In the April issue of Elle magazine, Molly Langmuir questions the societal and dietary norms that preach ‘fat is bad.’ Langmuir spoke with Sally Fallon, who, for two decades, has preached the health benefits of enjoying animal proteins, organ meats, and raw milk and yogurt (while avoiding all things processed), and reveals that food—like all else—isn’t binary. Enjoying fatty foods doesn’t have to just be a cheat day indulgence.
Raised in Palos Verdes, California, by parents she calls “the original foodies,” Fallon got an English degree at Stanford in 1970 and settled in Washington, DC, with her then husband (they later divorced), who worked in the aerospace industry. “I knew in my bones this low-fat thing was wrong,” she said. But she didn’t have evidence until she read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, published in 1939 by an intrepid dentist named Weston A. Price, which documented his world travels studying diets and health. His conclusion? Various diseases, cavities, even “personality disturbances,” were rare among groups who ate like their ancestors— lots of meats or seafood, plenty of fat, and, if they ate carbs, whole grains—but rampant among those who’d adopted a modern diet, with heaps of white flour and sugar.
Fallon eventually had four kids and fed them foods like liver and raw milk—she credits this with their continued good health and in 1995 she put Price’s beliefs into practical form in the self-published Nourishing Traditions. At first, Fallon stored the books in her garage and shipped out a few copies a month, but “it started to grow and grow,” she said. Even Atkins blurbed her book, gushing that the first chapter “is so right on target that I feel a little guilty for taking her ideas.” There are now 740,000 copies in print.
Over lunch—a tomato soup into which she’d stirred an entire container of crème fraîche and a dip made from cheese, butter, and cream—she said that at her farm, she does things “the old-fashioned way,” meaning it’s a multispecies realm with pigs that eat the leftover whey, cows that eat the grass, chickens that eat anything they scratch out of the ground, and cats that eat the mice. The living-history–museum vibe carries over into the 150-year-old main house, a precisely decorated three-story affair filled with antique china and Oriental rugs. (There are a few incongruous nods to the present: a swimming pool, a wine fridge.) Fallon does her writing at an enormous antique desk, on which sits a glass paperweight I mistook for a crystal ball. “I don’t see the future,” she said. Then she laughed. “Yes, I do! And it’s butter!”