Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter 10: Isolated and Modernized Australian Aborigines

Continuing my review of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price...

Weston A. Price began his world travels for this project in 1931, so I have gathered - the present chapter is his reflections from a trip he took to eastern Australia, Figi, Samoa and New Zealand in 1936. He compared inland populations to coastal populations and found that even though the foods they were consuming were different, the results were the same.

On the first page, Price describes needing to study children between 10 and 16 because "the deciduous dentition or first set of teeth may be in normal position in the arches with a correct relationship between the arches, and the permanent dentition show marked irregularity." (p.146) This was one of those "of course!" moments for me where something I've felt before has been put into words by someone else. Most babies look at least moderately healthy (of course many don't look healthy at all here in the U.S.), but almost all adults have poor teeth and are sick in some way. There's so much available to us at birth and in those first years of life that sustains us through even poor nutrition for a few years, but then later on, if it's not corrected, serious problems erupt.

It is always striking that the same patterns of deformity and degeneration manifest throughout the world, regardless of race or location:
One of the most important phases of our special quest was to get information that would throw light on the degeneration of the facial pattern that occurs so often in our modern civilization. This has its expression in the narrowing and lengthening of the face and the development of crooked teeth. It is most remarkable and should be one of the most challenging facts that can come to our modern civilization that such primitive races as the Aborigines of Australia, have reproduced for generation after generation through many centuries-no one knows for how many thousands of years-without the development of a conspicuous number of irregularities of the dental arches. Yet, in the next generation after these people adopt the foods of the white man, a large percentage of the children developed irregularities of the dental arches with conspicuous facial deformities. The deformity patterns are similar to those seen in white civilizations. p.155
It is difficult to believe that less than a hundred years ago white people thought it okay to put other races in small plots of land and limit what those people were allowed to eat. It happened in Canada and the United States with the first nations, and then later with the Japanese during World War II. It also happened in Australia:
One can scarcely visualize, without observing it, the distress of a group of primitive people situated as these people are, compelled to live in a very restricted area, forced to live on food provided by the government, while they are conscious that if they could return to their normal habits of life they would regain their health and again enjoy life. p.160
He continues with his assessment of their situation two pages later:
The rapid degeneration of the Australian Aborigines after the adoption of the government's modern foods provides a demonstration that should be infinitely more convincing than animal experimentation. It should be a matter not only of concern but deep alarm that human beings can degenerate physically so rapidly by the use of a certain type of nutrition, particularly the dietary products used so generally by modern civilization. p.162
It concerns me even now... or most especially now, as my reading of this book is to improve my family's health. I find myself to be unable to be fixed. That is to say, I have medical issues which are the result of poor prenatal nutrition and poor nutrition during my youngest years. In short, I cannot do anything about these problems because their cause prohibits a remedy. So we are starting to learn while our children may not end up being perfect, they will absolutely enjoy better health than their parents - because of better nutrition.

Price ends this chapter obviously deeply saddened by what he has seen happen to the Aborigines, writing "They demonstrate in a tragic way the inadequacy of the white man's dietary programs." (p.166)  I found my own diet to be inadequate and I still struggle with its inadequacy... constantly making corrections and finding that the old cravings are hard to deal with... One of the common threads between all the peoples Price studied is their isolation. What does that mean for my family in 2011?

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