Somehow, over the course of the months we spent corresponding by email leading up to the free talk and potluck I was organizing for Slow Food DC, I managed not to gush too much. I refrained from going on embarrassingly about how much I adore that cookbook of hers, with its recipes for fermented foods and the joys of whole grains and unapologetic tirade against modern health trends. I mean, for heaven's sake, the subtitle of the book is "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats." (Yes, it really says Diet Dictocrats in the title. Love it.) Unfortunately, my introduction of this local celebrity was a little gushy and awkward, but hopefully most folks forgot about that by the time Ms. Fallon got a few slides into her presentation.
Lord, I hate public speaking.
After some history of the research of Dr. Weston A, Price, whose work studying the links between health (specifically dental health) and diet in populations around the world, Sally -- hee, hee, I used her first name -- launched into a diatribe against the vacillating patterns that are the dietary/nutritional recommendations and health scares of our day. One day butter is bad. The next day it's good. Carbs are bad. No, wait, they are the main component of the USDA food pyramid, but a growing number of people can't properly digest contemporary commodity grains. Red meat is bad. Dairy is bad. Raw milk is dangerous. Fruit is too high in sugar. There's e coli on the spinach.... Aaaagh! What the heck are we supposed to think? Or eat??
Now, I take these sorts of ideas, these calls to eat more meat and animal products with a grain of Salt (which, incidentally, is also not an inherently bad ingredient in moderation), and I was a little taken aback with how extreme her views were at times. However, Sally (hee, hee, I just called her Sally again) did have some good points. There are a lot of important nutrients we can get out of eating animal foods -- eggs, milk, butter, cheese, meat, and (though I squirm to think about it) offal -- but we need to raise our animals differently than we have been. Out on pasture, roaming and eating what they would normally eat rather than a steady diet of commodity corn as they're crammed shoulder to shoulder in a windowless cement building. Raising animals slowly, letting them put on weight naturally over time, and as a result having the flavor of the land they are raised on... these are Slow Food principles if I ever heard any. And since it takes so much more time and work to raise animals this way, the quality of the meat would be higher and the higher price of meat would mean that we would eat less of it overall. I imagine at the higher price, too, we would not want to waste any bits of it... including things like liver (which I would welcome my dad to eat my share of since he loves it).
Speaking of appreciating good food, who could turn down something as delectable as the raw milk cheese Ms. Fallon brought from her farm?
Yes, we had much to chew on -- literally and figuratively -- at the potluck that followed, including some of my beet risotto (this batch made with homemade, free-range chicken stock).