The BabyGate Files: Sally Fallon & The Weston A. Price Foundation Should Not Be Let Off The Hook

PREEMPTIVE UPDATE:  A few days before finishing up this post, I noticed that the Bubba Yum Yum book has finally been self published in iBooks.  It will be interesting to see what the final published formula is though and if they added any carbohydrate (somehow I doubt it from the preview pages available of other recipes).

Background Posts & Prior BabyGate Files:
  1. Mammalian Infant Food Macronutrients ~ Especially Human
  2. Common Themes: The Chef Evans & Prof. Noakes Controversies, and Robb Wolf vs. North Carolina
  3. The Obesity Paradox
  4. The BabyGate Files: Tim Noakes Blames Gerber for Baby Cereals (this post contains historical breast milk alternatives and weaning practics)
  5. The BabyGate Files: Tim Noakes Just WRONG on Protein (discusses "early protein hypothesis" link to increased adiposity later in childhood.)
  6. The BabyGate Files: Pete Evans' Bubba Yum Yum ~ There's a Macro Missing!  (key to this post, they claim adaptation from WAPF recipe)

When the Bubba Yum Yum DIY Baby Milk controversy came about, the Dietatians Association of Australia seemed most alarmed over the extremely high Vitamin A content.  This was also picked up in most of the news reports.  As discussed in the previous BabyGate Files, the revamping of the formula by the Bubba Yum Yum gang mostly involved adding back in a few -- but not all -- of the missing nutrients.  They did not alter their original amount of liver and fermented cod liver oil, and thus the Vitamin A content.  I'm going to tackle the Vitamin A issue in a longer post here soon, but the initial concerns were raised from this image in the original Bubba Yum Yum book.

As it turns out, yes, the numbers provided on the above table do indeed come from the Weston A. Price Foundation website, and are for their original formula.  Here is that formula:

Note that 2 ounces is roughly 60 grams of liver (56 g to be exact).  The fermented cod liver oil (or regular CLO) adds additional Vitamin A.

Micronutrient Content of WAPF Liver Formula

The WAPF folks are obsessed with certain fat soluble vitamins and/or vitamins that are particularly prevalent in some animal foods .... and their magical properties.   At least WAPF is somewhat responsible in terms of the macronutrient composition of their homemade formulas.  However, some of the micronutrients are so far out of the norm for breastmilk,  as to raise some serious questions regarding them recommending this formula as any sort of breastmilk or commercial formula alternative.   Just look at these comparisons  (I took the table from their website and just displayed breastmilk vs. the liver formula).

Please note the reddish highlights are for amounts I have arbitrarily decided to "call out" for being more than 5X different from breastmilk.  If you scan down the right column you will see that many nutrients vary by over 2X.  In terms of being worthy of the term *mimicking*, where should we draw the line?  I don't know exactly, as it would obviously vary from nutrient to nutrient based on the necessity, benefit and potential for toxicity for each one.  It does appear that where commercial formulas are concerned they do tend to err, for better or worse, on the side of caution and provide more than the average breastmilk delivers.  However, keep in mind that even 20% more or less can be critical depending on the nutrient.  

I recently got a hold of a copy of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan MD.   In the introduction Mary Enig PhD is indeed credited specifically for developing the baby formulas.  It remains a great mystery to me as to what her basis was for the various ingredients and the proportions used, especially in the liver-based formula.  The goat's and cow's milk formulas differ from breastmilk, but not nearly as significantly as the liver formula.  I can think of a few ways to have made a more balanced milk-free formula, even using many of the same ingredients.  

On the website they note that commercial formulas contain roughly 2400 IU Vitamin A per 800 calories (I confirmed this to be the case at least for the first brand that came to mind, Enfamil) which is about 2.5X the content of breastmilk. It boggles the mind why, without any real explanation, it was deemed appropriate to DESIGN formulas with 5X (5000 IU for both milk-based) and  20X  (20,000 IU) ??? 

I do not know how popular the "mother ship" WAPF organization is at this point in time, but the "nourishing" mommy (mostly) bloggers espousing the Gospel of Weston A. Price according to the Book of Sally are up there in the rank$ of internet marketeers.   So even if the 2013 book above failed to make much in the way of mainstream waves, there are copycats out there too numerous to count who are repeating this recipe over and over, sometimes without even linking directly to the recipes.   Oh!  It's from Weston A. Price!  As if ol' Weston cooked it up in his infamous* laboratory, based on his meticulous studies while globe trotting.   I have yet to come across any connection between WAPF and Price himself, and there is so much woo woo on the WAPF website (there's a homeopathy page, and it's not even outdated!) it's hard to believe there's no descendent who might object at this point.  [*I use this word, because despite copious references made to tests on saliva and indigenous foods in Nutrition and Degeneration, I cannot find any detailing of the results of these tests.]

Macronutrient Composition:

At least WAPF is responsible here in terms of making sure that lactose is "represented" in their liver formula.  Thank Grok for that I suppose.  But their formula is rather high in protein.  Dangerously high?  I don't know to say with absolute certainty.  The formula skirts just to the limit set by the WHO and related agencies.    For me, considering the evidence discussed in The BabyGate Files: Tim Noakes Just WRONG on Protein, the protein is too high and I would not advocate this for anyone who asked my opinion.

So it seems that WAPF has been given a pass here.    Why?   

If it wasn't obvious before, this issue has exposed the fact that we're not dealing with people interested in appropriate nutrition in the paleo or WAPF communities.  It's pretty much a consensus opinion that breast feeding exclusively for the first 6 months is the ideal.   This should be as paleo as it gets. Furthermore, the hunter-gatherers who have been studied generally breastfeed for around two years, some quite a bit longer.  When you wade into the infant feeding literature, breast feeding in particular, it is overwhelming.   Yet somehow, despite babies deprived of breast milk -- throughout the centuries and around the world for a whole range of reasons -- the human race has flourished.  So with that said, where is the logic in trying to optimize infant nutrition by making some "super formula" to replace breastmilk while insisting that breastmilk is best for baby?   More is not always better.  NOT.

Q:  Where does WAPF, as an organization, stand on Bubba Yum Yum's misuse of their formula?  

A:  Nowhere, apparently.

I would think they would object to the changes in their formula that include leaving out all carbohydrate, omitting whey and halving the amount of liver. Regardless of where you stand on the appropriateness of the formula itself, these changes are well outside the realm of "adaptation" and the referencing of WAPF gives the BYY formula additional undeserved credence.  This infers that it has been used successfully by others for years.

We're not talking about a 
meatball or falafel recipe here.

The problem here is that if WAPF says anything, it will draw the spotlight onto their own formula ... one that is far more egregious in the micronutrient issues that the DAA took note of.  Given that it is also published in at least two books, this could create issues. 

BUT ... Alteringing???  

OK for the privileged to alter as they please, put in a cookbook and sell though, right?  
Just don't be someone worried about doing right by your child and not having infinite financial resources at your disposal.  You'll be given guilt over possibly "compromising" your child's wellbeing.

This puts the *I* in Incestral.  Everyone in this community is too involved in making money and not rocking the boat to dare challenge the status quo when the very "science" they claim to base things on is misunderstood, misrepresented, and just flat out MISSED (as in wrong).  

But nobody in the "in crowd" has the freaking vagina to speak out.