Editor’s note: Three days after this post appeared, a spokesperson for the Weston A. Price Foundation committed to correcting the error I describe here. Details at the end of this post and in a comment following this post.
The current issue of Wise Traditions magazine, the official publication of the Weston A. Price Foundation, includes a writeup by Sally Fallon Morrell of a debate on raw milk held this past summer at a food safety conference.
She provides an interesting description of a provocative discussion at the annual conference of International Association of Food Protection. Arguing in favor of raw milk were Joseph Heckman of Rutgers University and Ted Beals, a retired pathologist. Against raw milk were Jeffrey Farber of the University of Guelph and Jeff Kornacki Texas Tech University. (Sorry, the magazine isn’t online.)
Especially interesting to me is that Sally Fallon Morrell’s writeup says there was a similar debate nearly five years ago that “featured myself and Mark McAfee at Harvard University in 2012.”
Hmmm….I could have sworn that was me together with Fallon Morrell at the 2012 Harvard debate, arguing in favor of raw milk, and not Mark McAfee. And as I remember it, she and I spent a lot of time in the days before the debate, exchanging slides, and determining who would argue which particular issues and statistics. I thought we made a good team.
So I went back and looked at the video of the event on YouTube and, sure enough, there I am sitting next to Fallon Morrell, together with Heidi Kassenborg of the Minnesota Department of Public Health and Fred Pritzker, a product liability lawyer, both of whom argued against raw milk.
It was a provocative and educational evening for a lot of people. More than 150 people crowded into the Harvard Law School debate hall, while some 2,400 people plugged into the debate via livestreaming. And since that evening nearly five years ago, more than 50,000 people have listened to the debate on YouTube. That’s a lot of people who have been educated on the pros and cons of raw milk.
One of the reasons the event received so much attention is that serious debates about raw milk don’t happen very often. Prominent opponents of raw milk are reluctant to debate the subject, perhaps because arguing against raw milk is a difficult to case to make in the face of its exploding popularity.
So I looked at the YouTube video once again, and damn, I don’t think I look at all like Mark McAfee. In fact, I’d say we look pretty different.
How could Fallon Morrell have mixed me up with Mark McAfee? Or maybe she didn’t.
Last week, I emailed Fallon Morrell, along with her public relations agency of record, and pointed out the error. I asked one of them to let me know if it was just an editing snafu that led Fallon Morrell to place Mark McAfee with her at the debate. If that was the problem, I said, I’d appreciate a correction in a followup issue of the magazine, and that would be the end of it, no need for any kind of public disclosure.
So I sent an email to the main Weston A. Price Foundation email, similarly asking the executive director for an explanation of the error, and requesting a correction.
So now I have to assume the worst—that the error was intentional, a clumsy and distasteful effort to rewrite history. I have to assume that the effort to rewrite history was prompted by the angry debate a year ago over fermented cod liver oil, during which Fallon Morrell prohibited Weston A. Price Foundation chapters from linking to my blog, with the threat of ex-communicating violators from the national organization.
Fallon Morrell’s action of rewriting history is especially regrettable, because rewriting history and spewing lies are favored tactic of the large pharmaceutical and Big Ag corporations she likes to rail against for their production of vaccines and tainting of food products. Such corporations will often pretend that departed executives cease to exist, will mis-state their roles in influencing regulations, will hide actions to influence protective legislation, will minimize news of sickness from their products, and so on.
As a result, we know we can’t believe much of what they say about vaccines, GMOs, or anything else. I’m afraid Fallon Morrell is now operating in the same realm.
I now find myself wondering about all Sally’s presentations I’ve sat through at WAPF conferences (going on this weekend, coincidentally) on the research of Weston A. Price and on the history of raw milk. What has she misstated and misrepresented because of some personal grudge or some inconvenient truth?
All that comes on top of last year’s traumatic debate and discussions about the safety of fermented cod liver oil, when lots of people lost faith in WAPF’s credibility after it continued to insist on endorsing the product in the face of convincing evidence of safety problems.
It’s sad, because once a respected educational organization like Weston A. Price Foundation has shown itself to be simply a vehicle for dispensing propaganda and lies on behalf of an authoritarian leader, it’s on its way to losing ever more credibility. Credibility, after all, is its most prized asset.
(On November 14, I received an email from WAPF’s chief administrator, Kathy Kramer, as follows: “Sally’s error in citing Mark McAfee rather than you was unintentional. We did not receive an email from you but were told this was a concern to you. We apologize for any distress this has caused you. We will make the correction to the article online as soon as we return to the office.” I accept the apology and the commitment to a correction, but am sorry it took a blog post and extensive comments of concern to make it happen.)