So, you may be asking, “What is the Weston A. Price Foundation? Why do I care what they say about breastfeeding?” Well, let me give you a quick description about them:
They are a non-profit that advocates “whole foods and traditional cooking techniques using farm fresh, true organic ingredients.” They “…educate the public on the nutrition research of Dr. Weston A. Price and the benefits of buying local foods for their nutritional value.” They promote nutrient dense diets and the use and benefits of raw milk.
This sounds fantastic right? Eating healthy IS super important. We aren’t debating that at all. But if you dig into their information about breastfeeding, it leaves you scratching your head and being very confused.
On their website, they state:
“…the diet of modern American women is so appalling, and their preparation for successful breastfeeding so lacking, that their breast milk provides no better nourishment for their infants than factory-made formula.”
They only cite a handful of studies that they feel supports their stance on this. They also talk negatively about the La Leche League.
Last week, one of their chapter leaders and board members, Sarah Pope, of The Healthy Home Economist, gave a presentation on breastfeeding at the Village Green Network’s Healthy Life Summit. Sally Fallon, co-founder and President of the WAPF, also gave a presentation, but I missed it.
The description for Sarah Pope’s seminar was this:
“Is Breast Really Always Best?”
“Breastfeeding is critical for baby’s health, but only if the mother is eating a nutrient-dense diet. Learn how to eat for your baby’s optimal health, and what to do if you can’t breastfeed.”
Breastfeeding advocates politely voiced their concerns over the language and information in that statement on her Facebook page and were met with very rude and defensive comments. The supporting studies for her claims were never given.
So, we watched the presentation and it was full of anecdotal evidence and personal opinions. Pope was adamant that if you did not have a nutrient dense diet, that you should not breastfeed and if women had issues breastfeeding, they should just use the WAPF’s homemade formula. She also did not recommend donor breastmilk as an option because the mother’s diet was unknown and breastmilk from milk banks was pasteurized and that “denature[s] proteins, destroy[s] enzymes, etc.” Never once did they discuss how a mom could change their own diet or how a mom that is having breastfeeding troubles should seek out an IBCLC or other breastfeeding professional for support.
On Pope’s Facebook page, she made unprofessional and offensive comments in reference to the breastfeeding advocate’s concerns:
Pope continued to use offensive language in other messages:
For someone who is a representative of a large and influential non-profit, this is very unprofessional.
Outrage over these claims about diet, nutrition, and breastfeeding were also brought to the Weston A. Price’s Facebook page. One person asked WAPF for their stance on breastfeeding and breastmilk to see if they felt the same as Sarah Pope. Here is what they had to say:
Breastfeeding advocates are demanding to see studies and proof for these claims. They keep telling us that they’ve done their research and we want to see it. But, as you can see in the above WAPF statement, they say the studies are in their new book, meaning you have to buy it to read their research…
So, I’m sure many of you are thinking that we should just ignore their claims and ignore their stance and to not draw any attention to it. Normally I agree with that line of thinking, but I feel that this is different and this definitely needs to be addressed.
The Weston A. Price Foundation is large, influential, and very convincing to their members and followers. They state that they have over 16,000 members, and 450 chapters worldwide. Their Facebook page has over 54,000 fans and they have over 15,000 followers on Twitter.
Many of their chapter leaders and board members have blogs and Facebook pages. Sarah Pope’s blog receives over 1 million views a month and she has over 41,000 fans on Facebook. Nourishing Our Children, who has Sally Fallon as an adviser, has over 22,000 fans on their Facebook page.
The Village Green Network is the PR/advertising network that WAPF uses. They claim to have “500 blogs and 7 million monthly visits”. Ann Marie Michaels, the founder of the VGN, put on the Healthy Life Summit where Pope and Fallon presented. Michaels runs the blog, Cheeseslave, and her Facebook page has over 22,000 fans.
Natural and nutrient dense diets are very popular and people are seeking out more information. They are drawn to the info on the WAPF’s website, Facebook page, and the other associated pages. Many of these fans are mothers and this breastfeeding misinformation, combined with the complete lack of appropriate breastfeeding support, is extremely dangerous.
This is a call-to-action for health professionals, breastfeeding advocates, and natural food advocates to voice concerns and outrage over this misinformation. We need to all demand to see their proof and studies they are basing their claims on.
We need to continue to support and educate mothers and provide evidence-based information. Our voices need to be louder than theirs. Let’s drown them out.
For more information, please read the Best for Babes Foundation breakdown of the “booby traps” in the WAPF’s breastfeeding info: “From Karo Syrup to Goat Milk – The Formulas May Change, but the Booby Traps Remain the Same”