The Wise Traditions Conference put on by the Weston A. Price Foundation is coming to Knoxville once again from Friday, October 21st to Sunday the 23rd. This gathering of doctors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, food makers, and general health experts happens every year around this time, serving as a temporary hub of education, networking, and great meals. The 22nd annual conference, and the largest yet, Wise Traditions promises a number of brilliant speakers and will highlight food with five meals over the course of the weekend.
The organization itself is based on the studies of late 19th-century dentist Weston A. Price, original founder of the National Dental Association in 1914. By 1930, however, Price turned his attention to nutrition. Traveling the world and paying close attention to twelve different native tribes across it — from North America to Asia and Africa. — Price found that these groups had ten times the amount of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K than what “civilized” populations did at the same time. He also found that each of these tribes, though their diets differed based on region, had similar core elements (organ meats, bone broths, fermentation, raw foods) and published the book detailing this, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, in 1939.
The Weston A. Price foundation takes these findings and attempts to bring them back into the scope of the modern world. With four hundred chapters, they work year round to this end. Each chapter is required to provide resource lists for both food (like raw milk) and holistic practitioners. Other activities Chapters frequently host include regular meetings, hosting classes, potlucks, and lobbying. Brandon LeGreca, holistic practitioner and a speaker at the upcoming conference, calls the foundation “the single best organization in the country [for] giving people the nuts and bolts of a nutrient dense diet.”
Meals at the conference will center around local, nutrient dense products including bone broths, organ meats, and fermented foods. The Weston A. Price Foundation places high importance on ancient human diets, getting the most out of every calorie. I spoke with Weston A. Price Foundation president, Sally Morell Fallon, about the event and what it means for those attending and the world they are attempting to build.
Along with delicious, local, healthful meals, the conference will include speaker panels, food workshops, and an awards banquet. Awards include an activist achievement award, for those who have been working hard to spread the word of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s core dietary principles, and an Integrity and Science award. This is for, as Fallon explains, those who have been brave enough to challenge scientific orthodoxy that is less grounded in science than it is big money. This year, eight chapter leaders of the organization will receive it. The workshops at the conference cover everything from the basics of bone broth to more involved processes like fermenting foods. Fallon is holding her own seminar called “Nourishing Traditional Diet: Keys to Vibrant Health,” which will cover the eleven core dietary principles of the foundation.
After discussing these core principles, Fallon will cover practical ways to incorporate them into your everyday life. Other featured speakers will discuss a broad range of subjects from holistic dentistry; to the benefits of a high lysine diet; to cancer survival, health autonomy in law, and the dangers of particular electromagnetic frequencies. Fallon noted that the conference is the only one to remind all of its attendees to put their cell phones on airplane mode during the conference. Each participant in the event notes a sense of community and vitality, with Fallon referring to it as “the conference that nourishes you in every way: body, emotions, and intellect.”
One speaker at the Wise Traditions Conference, Leslie Manookian, was a chapter leader herself for over nine years. A former Wall Street business executive, Manookian has gone on to found the Health Freedom Defense Fund, “educating and advocating for people to be as healthy as possible,” in her own words. This is done through presence in the press, general media releases including a podcast, and through litigation against the federal government, state governments, and businesses when necessary. Manookian states she is passionate about health, wellbeing, and “protecting our health freedoms.”
The freedoms she refers to cover a wide variety of topics and issues, from states where people cannot get raw milk to non-consensual medical intervention. She firmly believes that people have the right to manage their health in the way that is best suited to them, whether that means rejecting chemotherapy, surgery, or a vaccine. As things are, she explains, “We are not able to make informed choices… Medical journals are deeply influenced by pharmaceutical companies. Food is deeply influenced by big agriculture.” Sound, informed choices cannot be made in an environment with such a high degree of coercion. “What passes for food today isn’t very nutritious at all, but it’s subsidized,” she states. Her dream is to create a world where everyone is empowered to be healthy without the interference of political or financial interests.
In addition to her support of regional food systems, Manookian hopes to build an independent and local healthcare system. She points to the National Health Freedom Coalition, a group of people practicing everything from homeopathy and acupuncture to emergency and functional medicine, as a model to roll out a nationwide independent health system. She expounds that although conventional medicine is great for situations like emergencies, it doesn’t do much for chronic conditions. She reminds us that for these ailments, there are “so many ways to keep yourself healthy with herbs and nutrition.” Repeating an old adage, she points out, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail.”
Manookian is excited to be a part of the upcoming Wise Traditions Conference and to educate people about what their rights are and what they can do to defend them when she speaks. She notes that the social aspect is also a joy: “There are people who are eager to learn about ideas and initiatives they may not hear about in the mainstream media,” she enthuses. “I always come away elated.” She also takes joy in eating great food and supporting the community.
Brandon LeGreca, describes himself as a clinician (having practiced traditional Chinese medicine for fifteen years), author, and cancer patient. He explained that although he has recovered from stage four Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, he continues to identify as a cancer patient because forever after, maintaining health is something you have to be mindful about. He has published two books, Cancer and EMF Radiation, which focuses on man made electromagnetic frequencies as a potent human carcinogen, and Cancer, Stress, and Mindset, which focuses on one’s mindset in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. “People who have the proper mindset will have a fundamentally different experience than people who don’t,” he expresses. This doesn’t refer to the notion that staying calm and optimistic will heal cancer, but rather to his thesis that a different attitude will lead to a number of healthier decisions regarding cancer treatment. Next year, he hopes to publish his third book, which will be based on the relationship between trauma and cancer diagnoses. His individual talk will focus specifically on the health and nutrition necessary for cancer patients.
LaGreca will also be taking part in a panel, answering questions from an audience with a variety of other health practitioners, which he describes as “always a hoot.” He details how panels can include medical doctors, naturopaths, homeopaths, pediatricians, and any other form of health experts. These practitioners together never can know what they will be asked by the audience, and their answers will showcase both differences and similarities in their methods. This creates an educational experience for the audience, as well as the panel members themselves. “We learn a lot from each other,” he smiles.
The joy of participation in the event is founded in this type of experience: LaGreca attends “not just [as] a speaker, but a student.” He appreciates the community and the camaraderie — the sense of a thousand other people who are all invested in the same things he is. From speaking to listening to just talking over a meal, the event is wholly inspiring and healing for LaGreca.
A newcomer to the Wise Traditions conference, Austin Durant is the founder of the Fermenter’s Club, an eleven year old organization focused on creating content, holding classes, and building a community around the skill and practice of fermenting food. Durant tells that the first time he tried a batch of sauerkraut he felt a “noticeable shift” in his body and mind. He went on to study fermentation at a five day residency program right here in Middle Tennessee with Sandor Katz. That same year, he started the club. Though for the first five years he continued to work a day job, he became the full-time leader in 2015. The Fermenter’s Club hosts hands-on workshops, classes (both online and in-person), and regular get-togethers where fellow foodies can enjoy kraut, pickles, sourdough, kimchi, and more. “I want to be able to contribute to this food and health sovereignty movement,” voices Durant.
He is honored to be a part of this year’s Wise Traditions Conference, stating that “if [he gets] nothing as far as making the business more prominent, that’s fine.” This is his opportunity to “both literally and metaphorically get on stage,” reminding people of one of the pillars of a healthy diet. He also enthuses about other speakers who will be at the event — Dr. Andrew Kaufman, Catherine Austin Fitts, Dr. Kelly Brogan, Tommy John, “really just everybody that’s going to be there… it’s cool to get to meet your heroes.” Durant may be that hero for someone else in a few years. He is publishing his first book soon, aptly titled Fearless Fermenting.
A Meeting of the Minds
These are only a handful of the thirty-four speakers and sixty exhibitors featured at this year’s Wise Traditions Conference. Tickets can be purchased from this page and range in price from $75 for Sally Morell Falllon’s all-day seminar and lunch to $440 for three days of sessions including five meals. Around one thousand people are expected to attend, many of them brilliant and all of them part of a community of health conscious thinkers. It will serve as an opportunity for all to support a number of great organizations, collect valuable information and experience, and enjoy meals specially curated with the best food available in the area.
Support the Health Freedom Defense Fund here.
Purchase books by Brandon LaGreca here.
See the Fermenter’s Club shop here.