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Loetschental Valley Swiss

Lötschental Breithorn, 3937 Naters, Switzerland

First Contact:


gather% / fish % / hunt %
fat % / protein % / carb%

A rough estimate to help us understand how carnivorous and how ketogenic these people were before being exposed to western civilization

Click this Slide deck Gallery to see high quality images of the tribe, daily life, diet, hunting and gathering or recipes

About the Tribe


The Loetschental Valley, nearly a mile above sea level in an isolated part of

the Swiss Alps, had been for more than a dozen centuries the home of some

two thousand people when the Prices first visited in 1931. The people lived

in a series of small villages along a river that wound its way along the valley

floor. The completion of an eleven-mile tunnel shortly before had made the

valley easily accessible for the first time.

The people lived as their forebears had. Wooden buildings, some centu-

ries old, dotted the landscape, with mottoes expressive of spiritual values ar-

tistically carved in the timbers. Snow-capped mountains nearly enclosed the

valley, making it relatively easy to defend. Though many attempts had been

made, the people had never been conquered.

They had no physician, dentist, policeman, or jail. Sheep provided wool

for homespun clothes, and the valley produced nearly everything needed for


Price examined the teeth of all children in the valley between the ages of

seven and sixteen. Those still eating the primitive diet were nearly free of cavi-

ties- on the average, one tooth showing evidence of ever having had decay

was found for every three children examined.

Many young people examined had experienced a period of rampant tooth

decay that suddenly ceased, often having first lost teeth. All had left the valley

prior to this period and spent a year or two in some city. Most had never had

a decayed tooth before or since.

Tuberculosis at this time took more lives in Switzerland than any other

disease. Yet Swiss government officials reported that a recent inspection of the

valley had not revealed one single case. Astonishingly, a thorough study of

records of death certificates demonstrated clearly that no deaths had occurred

from tuberculosis in the history of the valley. This is evidence of profound

natural forces at work.

Upon returning to America, Price had samples of the dairy products sent

to him twice a month throughout the year. A pioneer in developing methods

for measuring fat-soluble vitamins in foods in the early 1920s, he had written

extensively on the subject and was a recognized authority. His analyses found

the samples higher in minerals and vitamins, particularly the fat-soluble

D-complex vitamins, than samples of commercial dairy products from the rest

of Europe and North America.

The vitamin D-complex helps regulate utilization of calcium and other

minerals. Price believed the D complex and another unidentified nutrient

he called "activator X" played crucial roles in the excellent general health,

immunity to dental disease, and splendid physical development of the people

of the Loetschental Valley. The quality of the foods was apparently respon-

sible for the presence of rich amounts of these nutrients.

The Swiss people Price had studied recognized the crucial importance of

their foods. The clergymen told of how they thanked God for the life-giving

qualities of butter and cheese made in June when the cows ate grass near the

snow line; their worship included lighting a wick in a bowl of the first butter

made after the cows reached this summer pasturage. Price's analyses showed

butter made then was highest in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.

This early-spring butter obviously had a special place in the culture; it was

in a sense considered a sacred food. I believe it is no coincidence that this

butter contained the same fat-soluble nutrients of animal source found in other

sacred foods in other traditional cultures and native hunter-gatherer cultures.

We will learn more about these foods and nutrients in ensuing chapters.

Spiritual values dominated life. Part of the national holiday celebration each

August was a song expressing the feeling of "one for all and all for one." Price

wrote: "One wonders if there is not something in the life-giving vitamins and

minerals of the food that builds not only great physical structures within which

their souls reside, but builds minds and hearts capable of a higher type of

manhood in which the material values of life are made secondary to individual


' He found evidence of this throughout the world.

Health conditions in the Loetschental Valley were in stark contrast with

those in the lower valleys and plains country in Switzerland--modernized ar-

eas where rampant dental decay, misshapen dental arches with crowding of

the teeth, and high incidence of tuberculosis and other chronic health prob-

lems were the norm. The people of the valley clearly were protected by the

quality of their native foods.

Although few of the other traditional groups Price studied used dairy prod-

ucts (those who did were certain African tribes, including the Masai), raw,

whole milk (both fresh and cultured), cheese, and butter were used in quan-

tity by the people of the Loetschental Valley. This milk, from healthy, well

exercised animals, was unpasteurized and unhomogenized. Such foods may

play a major role in a health-building diet for people genetically able to uit-

lize them well. For the people of the Loetschental, their milk products pro

vided fat-soluble nutrients and minerals essential in maintaining their health.


Importance of Animal Products

The land, much of it on steep hillsides rising from the river, produced

the winter's hay for the cattle and rye for the people. Most households kept

goats and cows; the animals grazed in summer on glacial slopes. Cheese

and butter were made from fresh summer milk for use all year, and garden

greens were grown in summer. Whole-rye bread, made in large, stone, com-

munity baking ovens, was a staple all year, as was milk. Most families ate

meat once a week, usually on Sunday, when an animal was slaughtered.

Bones and scraps were used to make soups during the week.

Importance of Plants

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Transition to Industrialized Food Products

The Lötschental was likely first settled during the Roman period, but remained largely cut off from the outside world until the beginning of the twentieth century. The valley remained remote and difficult to access, especially during the winters, until the construction of the Lötschbergbahn, between 1907 and 1913, connected it to an international railway line.

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