This is truly one of the books that everybody interested in their own health, should read. It's a perfect compilation of the findings from the research done by the author while traveling and studying the diets and nutrition of various cultures - examples of which include: the Swiss of Switzerland, the Eskimos of Alaska, the Indians in the far North, West and Central Canada, the Melanesians and Polynesians on eight archipelagos of the Southern Pacific, tribes in eastern and central Africa, the Aborigines of Australia, the Maori of New Zealand and several others.
The book concludes that some aspects of a modern Western diet - particularly food based on white flour, sugar, and modern processed vegetable fats - cause nutritional deficiencies that are a direct cause of many health related issues such as: dental/facial/mental development problems, and several others.
While reading this book, it is difficult not to notice some points that correlate the wrong type of diet with human behaviour and human neural development. As the author found out, a certain percentage of people could even develop personality disturbances, lower than normal mental efficiency and acuteness ("so-called mental backwardness, which also includes the group of children in the schools who are unable to keep up with their classmates" <- his words not mine). He noted that IQs of that group of people, are generally lower than normal and they readily develop inferiority complexes growing out of their handicap. There is a lot information about that in one of the chapters: "Physical, mental and moral deterioration", where he is not only associating the lack of proper nutrition with lack of normal facial and dental arch development (which is kind of obvious) but also with mental development which could lead to a criminal behaviour later on.
The other interesting fact is, how nutrition and diet of a mother is directly related to the development of child during pregnancy (kind of obvious, but surprisingly not many people takes that under consideration) - and how the "various primitive racial groups" were actually conscious of it:
-"In many groups I found that the girls were not allowed to be married until after they had had a period of special feeding and in some tribes a six months period of special nutrition was required before marriage"
-"In some instances special foods are given the fathers-to-be, as well as the mothers-to-be"
-"One of the important lessons we should learn from the primitive races is that of the need for maintaining a balance between soil productivity, plant growth and human babies."
It's probably worth mentioning that he is not blaming "good natural" fat for various illnesses. For example, Eskimo at that time didn't have any major health issues, while eating a high meat diet with seal oil that was providing a very important part of their nutrition (please note that they also supplemented that with addition of ground nuts and berries). The problems appeared only when they switched mainly to the "white man's foods".
As another example to the above, he also found out that among the Eskimos fish eggs were eaten by the childbearing women; mostly because fish eggs are quite fatty and they are also a good source of protein (caviar gets nearly 70% of its calories from fat, whereas roe gets almost half of its calories from fat). The same goes for the coastal Indians in Peru that ate the so-called angelote egg, an organ of the male fish of an ovoviviparous species (Squatina dumeril -> Atlantic Angel Shark). These organs were used mainly by the fathers-to-be and the fish eggs by the mothers-to-be (obviously the other part of their diet included only fresh and natural food that provided adequate sources of bodybuilding and body-repairing material).
I also found the following to be a fascinating piece of information, and I wonder if anything has actually changed since then, as we are currently constantly faced with a "low fat" product almost everywhere:
"Extensive laboratory determinations have shown that most people cannot absorb more than half of the calcium and phosphorus from the foods eaten. The amounts utilized depend directly on the presence of other substances, particularly fat-soluble vitamins. It is possible to starve for minerals that are abundant in the foods eaten, because they cannot be utilized without an adequate quantity of the fat-soluble activators".
There are 28 chapters in the book, over 150 photos and illustration that prove the author's theory - that "you are what you eat" (which also largely depends on what kind of food your mother ate before and during pregnancy). Some of those photos may be shocking, but as the author is saying: "A good illustration is said to be equivalent to a thousand words of text" - and he is definitely right about that. A good example of that is in chapter 21, fig 131, 132 and 133, showing teeth and arch progressive injury - or should I say: the lack of normal dental arch development (there is plenty of other photos in the book, proving his points).
This is fascinating research material that should be a compulsory reading in medical schools (but then again, most medial doctors are not nutritionists so they are not likely to be interested in this kind of research). Today, it is probably impossible to repeat what Weston Price did, since processed food is pretty much everywhere and it is very difficult to find a culture with "clean" eating habits (even famous Hunza people are already affected by a "western diet") - which makes this book even more impressive. Maybe it's just me but I'm also glad that the book is lacking any "political correctness" (maybe because it was published 1939) as it only makes the core message much more clear and powerful.
Not a lot more to say. If you are concerned about your health, you simply have to read this book. You won't regret it as the knowledge you gain in the process will be priceless (not only for your health but also for the health of your children).
Side note: this is a "full" version of the book (28 chapters), not the one where the last several chapters are missing (one of the editions from 2010 is like that).
Other recommended books:
"Food and Western Disease" - by Staffan Lindeberg
"Pure, White and Deadly" - by John S. Yudkin
"Food is Your Best Medicine" - by Henry Bieler
"Good Calories, Bad Calories" - by Gary Taubes
"Trick and Treat: How healthy eating is making us ill" - by Barry Groves
"The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein's Low-Carbohydrate Solution" - by Richard Bernstein
"The Great Cholesterol Con" - by Malcolm Kendrick
"Big Fat Lies" - by Glenn Gaesser