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In 1940 Dr. Price was interviewed for a 13-part radio series entitled “Travelogues in Health” that was broadcast on WTAM in Cleveland, Ohio. Price-Pottenger preserved the transcript of this radio interview for decades, and has made it available for reading in the members-only research archives section of www.price-pottenger.org.
We also took the time to re-record these interviews, using the voices of two of our board members, Ed Bennett and David Getoff.
These recordings will soon be available on our website to members only, but we’ve made a portion of the interview available to everyone. Listen to the mp3 here or continue reading for the interview transcript.
Editor’s note: Since the era in which these interviews were conducted, social mores and attitudes have changed greatly, and some readers may be offended by references to “primitive” people and other out-of-date terminology. However, in the interest of authenticity, we have chosen to use Price’s exact words. No disrespect to any cultural or ethnic groups is intended.
INTERVIEWER: Dr. Price, what are some of the essentials that the foods selected by the primitives contain that are not in our modern foods of commerce as provided to the primitives?
Dr. Price: There are many. Every housewife knows that she cannot safely buy whole wheat flour in warm weather because it so quickly becomes infested with flour worms and becomes webby. She knows that by getting highly refined white flour she does not have much, if any, of this trouble. She has not been taught that in order to have the flour keep, it has been necessary for as much as possible of the vital factors to be removed or destroyed, and that when bugs cannot live on the cracked grains and flours, humans cannot either. Similarly, refined sugars contain practically no body building or repairing materials.
When I visited a modern relief station in Africa my attention was called to a serious affection [affliction] of a number of patients who had come in largely because of accident. On examining the food that was being used I found it consisted of cooked beans and corn. A critical examination of the uncooked kernels of corn and beans revealed that practically every kernel had a hole bored into its side over the embryo or germ where a beetle had eaten the life-giving part of the grain and consumed it for its own use. This had not been observed by the local attendants. These patients had been robbed by the beetles.
INTERVIEWER: Dr. Price, where do the primitive races get their special foods?
Dr. Price: They always get them from Nature. When studying the primitives in central Africa we made an examination of a tribe in which the individuals were very tall. Many of the men were seven and a half feet and the women six and a half. When I inquired through the interpreters how they developed such splendid bodies they said they did so by living on the souls of animals. When I inquired where the soul is they indicated that it was the liver. That tribe lives along one of the branches of the West Nile as it flows through the Sudan which provides large numbers of hippos which these natives depend upon largely for their supply of livers for food.
When making studies in the far north of Canada among the tribe of stalwart Indians I asked one of them through an interpreter what part of a moose he would take home if his family was starving and he was a long way from home. First he was quite angry and said that an Indian’s family never starves–that the Indian always provides plenty of food. When I apologized for my mistake and asked the question in a more acceptable form, he then replied that when he killed a moose the first thing he would do would be to take a drink of the blood and lie down on the hot moose and in a little while it would make him very strong. He would then open the moose and take a big piece of what he described as the liver. When I asked him why he would take that he said that was where the life is. I then asked him what else he would take. He said he would also take the large bone from the bottom of the leg.
When I expressed my surprise and disapproval because of the lack of meat on that bone and its poor quality, he told me through the interpreter that I did not understand. I pressed for further explanation. He said it was to make milk for the baby. I then suggested that it was a very poor piece of meat from which to make broth and he again reminded me that I did not understand that it was to make milk for the baby out of the inside. He referred to the bone marrow. I found that this food was one of the principal sources of nutrition for a child’s life when making the transition from the breast food of the mother to the meat diet of the adults. It was common to see the growing children sucking on a piece of bone marrow. It was of special interest to me that when I prepared a broth from bone marrow according to the direction of the old Indian it proved on chemical analysis to be very similar in food content to mother’s milk. Recent studies in infant nutrition have show bone marrow to be one of the best foods available.
INTERVIEWER: Dr. Price, what were the most important differences to be found in the foods being used by the primitives and those of our modern whites?
Dr. Price: Minerals and vitamins. The primitive foods as selected provided from two to five times as much of the essential minerals and vitamins for building good bodies and keeping them in good health as the foods provided to the primitives by our modern commerce. The chemical analysis of both the native dietaries and the displacing foods when they were being modernized disclosed very remarkable advantages of the primitive foods over the imported foods.
It is of interest that the diets of the primitive groups which have shown a very high immunity to dental caries and freedom from other degenerative processes have all provided a nutrition containing at least four times the body’s minimum requirements, whereas the displacing nutrition provided by commerce, consisting largely of white flour and sugar products, has invariably failed to provide even the minimum requirements. In other words the foods of the native Eskimos contained 5½ times as much calcium as the displacing foods of the white man, 5 times as much phosphorus, 1½ times as much iron, 8 times as much magnesium, 2 times as much copper, 49 times as much iodine, and at least 10 times as much fat-soluble vitamins. For the Indians of the far North of Canada the comparisons are similar.
The primitives undertook to provide the foods that would accomplish the building of good bodies rather than presuming to understand what they contain. They were primarily concerned with the effects and how they might be produced. A first and principal concern was to provide the foods to the parents that would produce healthy offspring. To accomplish this they knew that the parents-to-be must have special foods not only during the time of building their own bodies but that they must have special foods before the immediate problem of reproduction. Accordingly, their programs provided special foods before pregnancy and also for expectant mothers both for her own safety and for the perfection of her child. They know of special foods that would help to provide normal breast food for the child after it was born and for the development of a vigorous body during the growth period. The primitives seem to have developed a nutritional sense which we moderns have largely lost.
The animal kingdom seems to have had the capacity to anticipate body needs by searching out and eating special foods at special times. Modern children may be born with considerable of this instinct which because it is undeveloped and unused, becomes dormant. This is strongly suggested in an experiment that has been carried on with very young children by taking babies at six months of age and requiring them to select their own foods from a display of sixteen foods placed before them in the same places from day to day. These babies have been shown to go through six months without a single digestive upset and with a total growth greater than the infants in the control children’s ward. In planning the foods for one of these experiments I used the information that I had obtained among primitive races with regard to their baby feeding. Among the foods used were both raw and cooked bone marrow. It was of special interest that bone marrow was very frequently selected and sometimes for the entire meal. Occasionally they would make a meal largely out of one article of food and not eat that food again for a week.
Young animals are required to work out their adaptation to their environment entirely by instinct and experience. It is difficult for us modern whites to develop a consciousness of need for special chemicals and vitamins–apparently, because we have failed to develop qualities which we are pleased to call instinct in animals, through our failure to use these functions in infancy and childhood. Adult primitives seem to have retained these capacities throughout life, and greatly to their advantage in maintaining the health of their bodies.