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I just got back from a really intense weekend at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) annual “Wise Traditions” conference. This was my second year attending, and what a difference one year makes. Last year, I went with my mom, and essentially stuck by her the whole time since I didn’t really know anyone there, and also had limited knowledge about nutrition. The ultimate moment of last year’s conference was sitting at dinner with my mom, Stephan Guyenet, and Chris Masterjohn. If anyone knows those two guys, you can only imagine how glazed over I looked when they started discussing each other’s research. Man, those guys are SMART.
This year was a whole new ballgame. With some biochemistry and organic chemistry under my belt, and a few helpful pre-conference connections, I not only thorough enjoyed (and understood!) most of the presentations I attended, but I also got to spend time with some brilliant people who are working hard to “myth bust” the world of nutrition. Instead of focusing on the information I learned (I’ll get to that some other time), I’d like to focus on the multitude of young people who made my conference experience so incredible.
Liz from Cave Girl Eats
You know when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them your whole life? Well, enter Liz, one of the sassiest, sharpest young women I’ve met in a long time. I was fortunate enough to be “introduced” to her through an email from an apparently clairvoyant “Paleo/WAPF” friend of mine. I cannot begin to explain how much more I enjoyed the conference thanks to her presence. Not only is she hilarious, but I really enjoyed pondering the many nutritional science related questions that cropped up as we sat together and had our minds expanded by the geniuses on stage. I also had the pleasure of witnessing the live tweets that she masterfully thumbed into her iPhone during each presentation (and no… no actual panties were thrown at Chris Masterjohn!). I returned the favor of her company by sneaking her into the VIP room at the dinner on Friday night, which I was invited to because my mom was a speaker at this year’s conference. We dined on Paleo treats, and even snuck in the occasional slice of cheesecake (it was our 20%!!), and got to sit down with some real heroes of ours. I got to discuss my future business plans with her for opening a wellness center, and she gave me some great ideas to incorporate into my future plans. We are currently discussing organizing a panel at the Ancestral Health Symposium next summer, and I’m so excited to continue working with her. I’m so stoked to have met someone who I know will not only be a great partner in Paleo crime, but also to have met a new friend!
Chris Masterjohn from Cholesterol and Health.com
Where to begin with Chris… this is the third time I’ve met him, and every time I see him talk, I am more and more amazed by the brilliance that radiates out of him. The most incredible thing about Chris is that he manages to take some of the world’s most complicated nutritional biochemistry research and simplify it down so that everyone can at least somewhat understand the theories he proposes. I seriously don’t know how he manages to be both incredibly intelligent and down to earth at the same time. I was fortunate enough to spend two meals with him during the conference, including on Sunday night when my mom took the two of us out to dinner (again, yes. she’s a real schmoozer.) It’s really funny to look around a table and notice that, while Chris is talking, EVERY SINGLE PERSON is staring at him, mesmerized, as if they’re being hypnotized by his scientific genius. I don’t even think he notices this because, thankfully, he’s a very humble dude that doesn’t think he’s God’s gift to the world (even though he might be…) And even though I tend to feel extremely intimidated when in his presence due to his ‘celebrity’ status and incomprehensible brain power, he still manages to treat every person with respect to the point where people like me start to feel more confident talking science to him. Granted, I’ll never be anywhere near his level of understanding, but it was such a pleasure to be able to sit down and chat about nutrition theory with him. I’m so excited to continue working with him, and have lots of great plans to include him in the panel that Liz and I are developing for AHS.
Denise Minger from Raw Food SOS
Denise is quite possibly the cutest, most vibrant, and deceptively intelligent girl I’ve ever met. I’ve been following her blog for some time now, mainly due to my interest in her debunking of the China Study (aka the vegan bible). I usually send her link to any vegan/vegetarian who asks me if I’ve read the study, because Denise explains the inaccuracies in the literature so eloquently. Her talk at the WAPF conference this year was not only extremely educational and a great resource for someone like me who constantly deals with the vegetarian argumentalists, but it was HILARIOUS. Seriously, if this girl wasn’t so damn good at epidemiological research critiques, I would say she should be a stand up comedian. It blows my mind that she is my age and has done so much to advance the work in our field, and she was an English major in college to boot! It’s great that she has first hand experience of being a vegetarian/vegan for 10 years, because its an important testimony to the health problems that can arise from a plant based diet. Props to her, because I never want to subject myself to the nutritional deficiencies that come with being a raw food vegan just to prove how unhealthy the diet is long term. It’s unfortunate that she had to go through so much of a health crisis to come to the conclusions that we WAPFer’s live by, but I think she has a great story to tell because of her struggles. I was really pleased to get to meet her, and would have loved to spend more time with her had she not been surrounded by throngs of her fans. She also is a major component of our plans for the Ancestral Health Symposium, and I am really looking forward to our future collaborations.
Amanda, Tressa, and Jennifer from US Wellness Meats
It’s safe to say that US Wellness Meats makes some of the most insanely delicious meat products that I’ve ever eaten. It’s also safe to say that their culinary skills have opened me up to a whole new world of Paleo-friendly delights that I never thought I would actually enjoy eating (Pemmican? Head Cheese? Liverwurst? really???). I got to have a few drinks (well, more than a few) after we met at the VIP dinner, and the girls were so fun to hang out with! My mom has been buying their products for years now, and I loved getting the chance to discuss possible promotional ideas with these lovely ladies. I felt slightly guilty in between talks when I ran up to their table to get a quick bite of jerky, but I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to them whenever their table wasn’t swarmed with the many WAPF folks who were clamoring to get their amazing products. US Wellness Meats provides delicious, humanely-raised, environmentally friendly meat products to happy customers around the country, and I can say with pleasure that I’m one of those satisfied customers. I’m incredibly excited to work with them and help them develop recipes for their great products, since I think most people would be surprised how good a product called “Head Cheese” can taste!
I feel so fortunate to be a part of a movement that includes such intelligent, witty, and fun-loving people. Meeting these 20-something year olds who are making such a difference in the world of nutrition has really ignited my passion and drive to continue learning about human nutrition and educating myself about the proper diet for human beings. I’m so happy that we have people like Chris and Denise putting their ridiculous brain power towards the scientific study of biologically appropriate human diets, because if it weren’t for them, I feel like this whole Ancestral Health, WAPF/Paleo revolution would have no chance against the ‘animal-free diet’ dogma that we’re up against. And I’m also so pleased to meet such vibrant and witty people as Liz, who make me realize that this whole Ancestral way of living really does fill you with a lot of life force.
At the end of the day, its nice to feel like I’m on the side of science. I’m incredibly happy. 🙂