TF and Waldorf/Anthroposophy? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 08-01-2009, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So we are a TF and Waldorf family, but I am finding these 2 things aren't the best bedfellows sometimes. Today for instance, I had a (much too heated) "discussion" with my VERY anthroposophical MIL where she basically said that grains (she knows nothing about soaking and only a little about sprouting) are the food of the future, that it is spiritual food and that we are all moving towards being more of the etheric plane than the earthly one and that grains and veggies are the foods to get us there. She says animal foods (meat/fat) are too earthy and grounded and will basically make us (she was especially concerned for DS) too hardened and not spiritual. I have heard this discussion a lot regarding toys and routine and early academics and the like and I am on board there, but when Waldorf/Anthroposophy goes against the basic tenets of TF I definitely favor TF.

Of course she also said that the TF/WAPF scientists/researchers etc. are totally clueless and are trying to force modern (evolved) humans into ancient diets that are not at all appropriate, that we are different (mentally, spiritually) and therefore need a different diet.

Of course I just think about the discussion of eating too little animal fats and too many (insulin depleting) grains and other sugars and how that can make people "spacey" (hypoglycemia/malnutrition and whatnot) and wonder if this is what anthroposophy is holding high in regard as spiritually advanced people.

Anyone else TF and Waldorf? Have you run into this conundrum? How did it play out for you? (I am not questioning TF, more trying to figure out what to say to MIL or trying to find some nutritional common ground b/w Weston A Price and Rudolf Steiner!)

Thanks!
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#2 of 17 Old 08-01-2009, 07:55 PM
 
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We're not Waldorf - though I can get into some of their ideas - but we are a TF family. One thing that comes to mind is that Steiner was the father of biodynamic farming. That method offers clear protocol for how to raise animals and these methods are TF-friendly (e.g. fed their natural diet with heavy emphasis on quality pasture and silage, no forced weaning, low-stress, herbal and homeopathic medicines, humane low-stress treatment).These animals are being raised for meat, eggs and milk.

Regarding forcing ancient diets on modern evolved humans, she should consider that TF isn't truly an ancient or outmoded diet at all. While it is the diet of history and has survived millennia, TF nourished humans until the middle of last century. Surely humans haven't out-evolved their diet in just 100 years?

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#3 of 17 Old 08-01-2009, 09:47 PM
 
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I think you're right on the mark with this paragraph:

"Of course I just think about the discussion of eating too little animal fats and too many (insulin depleting) grains and other sugars and how that can make people "spacey" (hypoglycemia/malnutrition and whatnot) and wonder if this is what anthroposophy is holding high in regard as spiritually advanced people."

This is my assessment too. When I was getting into raw foods, and then fruitarianism, also quoted as being the highest spiritual form of eating, I came across a quote much like what you said above and it set me straight right away!
But since I'm not a Steiner follower (I feel that we are perfect already, and that by embracing our earth-ness and physical form, we acheive spiritual enlightement), I can't offer my opinions on that basis.
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#4 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 01:02 AM
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Dr. Tom Cowan is an anthroposophical doctor (MD), and he's way into the WAPF version of TF, writes the Ask the Doctor column for the WAPF journal, and is on their board. Might help you in your discussions to check out his writing. (I'm personally not into anthroposophy at all, nor do I care what Steiner said about anything, although I do agree with some anthroposophical medical theory.)

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#5 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 03:26 PM
 
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We're not Waldorf - though I can get into some of their ideas - but we are a TF family. One thing that comes to mind is that Steiner was the father of biodynamic farming. That method offers clear protocol for how to raise animals and these methods are TF-friendly (e.g. fed their natural diet with heavy emphasis on quality pasture and silage, no forced weaning, low-stress, herbal and homeopathic medicines, humane low-stress treatment).These animals are being raised for meat, eggs and milk.
There is a Waldorf family in our area that farm biodynamically (raw milk shares, biodynamic organic gardens, meats and crops). They are also big TF believers and WAPF members but also use a lot of Steiner philosophies. Honestly I have never talked to them about this as I never thought that they conflicted.
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#6 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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My daughter starts Waldorf on August 25th. We are whole foods moving over/learning TF. I don't get the Anthroposohy thing at all. I told the school admin all about our family and she has a copy of NT and we talked all about it. I want my daughter to go to this school for a ton of reasons but since we haven't started yet, I don't know if I'll have any conflicts. I know this school is very diverse with race/religion so I'm happy about that. It also focuses on whole foods and there are chickens and a garden...I guess I'll find out soon enough. Sounds like your MIL and you have to agree to disagree. Alot of people still think meat is bad, soy is good, grains are the staff of life....yada yada yada...anthorposophy or not.

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#7 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 04:58 PM
 
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We do both Waldorf and TF, and haven't had any problems. Actually, it was a lecture at our school on TF that got us into the whole thing in the first place. Many of the early childhood teachers follow TF practices as much as possible in the classroom, and encourage parents to use the book as an educational tool.

That being said, I think our community is fairly liberal in its Waldorf practices (which is both a pro or con depending on one's Waldorf expectations), and there are lots families that follow competing food theories. Somehow it all works out....
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#8 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 05:01 PM
 
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This sounds less like a Waldorf issue than a MIL issue. She has no business getting into it with you about what you eat. I would politely deflect her from this kind of commentary and just go your way.
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#9 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We do both Waldorf and TF, and haven't had any problems. Actually, it was a lecture at our school on TF that got us into the whole thing in the first place. Many of the early childhood teachers follow TF practices as much as possible in the classroom, and encourage parents to use the book as an educational tool.

That being said, I think our community is fairly liberal in its Waldorf practices (which is both a pro or con depending on one's Waldorf expectations), and there are lots families that follow competing food theories. Somehow it all works out....
So do they soak/sprout/ferment their grains?

The biggest issue MIL had was that I don't want DS to eat much grains, and the few we do eat are soaked/sprouted/fermented. That's when she went off on grains as the food of the future and that he (at 2) should be eating more veggies than animal foods. She then said he'd never "make it" in Waldorf Kindergarten because they have/make grains every day. So is your school soaking/sprouting/fermenting?

Also our local Waldorf school makes soup in the lower school (pre-k I think) and its just water and veggies. Maybe this is less "cooking" and more playing, but as a soup, obviously, it leaves much to be desired! They also bake bread that I am quite sure is not soaked/sprouted/fermented.
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#10 of 17 Old 08-02-2009, 08:38 PM
 
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Of course I just think about the discussion of eating too little animal fats and too many (insulin depleting) grains and other sugars and how that can make people "spacey" (hypoglycemia/malnutrition and whatnot) and wonder if this is what anthroposophy is holding high in regard as spiritually advanced people.
Well, I don't know a whole lot about Waldorf or anthroposophy but what I have quoted from you is basically what my opinion was after reading about copper toxicity and veg*nism. I think adrenal fatigue probably plays a role in it as well. To say that people who consume plenty of animal foods and fats aren't spiritual (or spiritual enough) ignores a huge chunk of cultures that historically were very spiritual and consuming such diets. Not to mention that it's very narrow-minded, elitist, and prejudice imo. You can be a very spiritual person regardless of diet. I do think though that Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda may be on to something about your constitutional type and what foods are best suited for you based on that, but I haven't done a lot of research on that either.

ETA: ITA with what zinemama said. It's oK for family to want to help ensure that everyone is eating healthy but even family may have a very different idea of what is healthy. Everyone is just doing the best they can and it isn't something we should allow to become a divisive issue. Just agree to disagree.

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#11 of 17 Old 08-03-2009, 12:23 AM
 
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My dd's preschool was overly focused on the grains, and followed the spiritual day of the week/matching grain practice. The reality was that the kids needed protein and some good fats to keep them going well through their preschool day. It was easy enough to add in some almonds, raw cheese, hard boiled free range egg, etc. to whichever grain centered menu the day held.

I don't think Rudolph Steiner was meant to be in the kitchen or giving menu advice, personally.
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#12 of 17 Old 08-03-2009, 11:36 AM
 
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So do they soak/sprout/ferment their grains?

The biggest issue MIL had was that I don't want DS to eat much grains, and the few we do eat are soaked/sprouted/fermented. That's when she went off on grains as the food of the future and that he (at 2) should be eating more veggies than animal foods. She then said he'd never "make it" in Waldorf Kindergarten because they have/make grains every day. So is your school soaking/sprouting/fermenting?

Also our local Waldorf school makes soup in the lower school (pre-k I think) and its just water and veggies. Maybe this is less "cooking" and more playing, but as a soup, obviously, it leaves much to be desired! They also bake bread that I am quite sure is not soaked/sprouted/fermented.
Yes, they soak everything, and never eat their grains on the day of initial soaking. In fact, we have found that almost all of their cooking is prepared with the kids on one day and then consumed 1-2 days later. For bread, the kids grind the grain, soak it, add it to the sourdough starter, make the bread, and then eventually bake.

Everything they serve is vegetarian because there are families who avoid meat for religious and philosophical reasons. If there aren't any kids with nut allergies, they serve (non-soaked) nuts everyday - which I can live with. I've also seen them make and serve hummus and cheese in the past.

I've even been offered kombucha scoobies and keifer grains from the teachers, and TF books are scattered in each class' lending library.

I'm guessing though that it just depends on the individual school. We've just lucked out that our Early Childhood teachers are really into TF. I can guess that many schools ultimately reflect the philosophies of their teachers and parents. If your school doesn't soak grains for bread (for example) you might see if they'd be open to it when your child attends. Our school is very open to parents coming into the class and suggesting new ways of doing things, especially if you are able to bring in supporting literature (such as Nourishing Traditions).
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#13 of 17 Old 08-03-2009, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been a little remiss in not mentioning that we plan to homeschool for the early years (up to grade 6 or so most likely) so it really isn't a concern what the lower school feeds to their students. The whole 'DS won't make it in Waldorf kindy' due to grains just bothered me so much that I was curious to hear how that plays out in some of your waldorf schools.

Thank you all so much for your comments, it has helped a lot.

I had even forgotten about Cowan, not his tie to WAPF but his tie to anthroposophy. I am ordering 2 copies of the Fourfold Path to Healing (its been on my to-read list for years!), one for me and one for her (she says she's totally ready to read it, especially given the title!)
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#14 of 17 Old 08-03-2009, 03:26 PM
 
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In my area the Waldorf and TF communities are almost one-and-the-same. I get my raw milk from a Biodynamic farm that is very, very TF (the CSA offers fermented veggies, sourdough bread, grass-fed meat, etc). Two local waldorf schools' students work at the farm every week.
I don't have kids yet, so I'm not in Waldorf (and probably will not be) but I was under the impression that all Waldorf people were pro-TF.

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#15 of 17 Old 08-03-2009, 05:38 PM
 
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We attended a Waldorf Parent/Child program before moving off grid. The teacher was vegetarian, but we ate whole butter and local honey. All the muffins she made were either soaked or slow cooked as well as oats. There wasn't any specific recommendations to us about diet other than finding the best possible quality of foods that we could.
I plan on doing Waldorf homeschool now. I'll need to look into this further as I think it's silly to assume that someone is less spiritual or impeding any kind of enlightenment by eating meat. That totally negates the spiritual practice of hunting in my Cherokee culture. Silly... hope I'm not offending anyone.

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#16 of 17 Old 08-03-2009, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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... hope I'm not offending anyone.
Certainly not me!
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#17 of 17 Old 08-10-2009, 09:47 PM
 
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I was involved with the local Waldorf/Anthroposophic community for a few years, and a lot of the families were into NT, and they hosted NT cooking classes and things. I feel that my life was enriched by this exposure, I learned a lot about food and preparation. I eat very little meat myself (meaning the occasional fish or shellfish), but like the waldorf teacher mentioned above, I still soak grains, use raw milk, pastured eggs, good oils (olive, butter, coconut), fermented foods, local produce, etc.
Steiner did have quite a bit to say about diet, and he was a vegetarian. A lot of the cultures WAP researched ate very little meat. My ancestors in Scotland would have eaten a lot of oats and seaweed and fish. I am personally of the opinion that we eat what is right for us, and it's not up to any of us to say what anyone should or shouldn't eat (except for the obvious, like processed artificial foods= bad for you). I think there is a balance for everyone, and I consider myself a traditional foodist even though I don't do the bone broths or eat much meat.
Someone else brought up a good point about biodynamics. It seems to work well with traditional foods, as the farms are managed traditionally and organically.
Fallon deserves a great deal of credit for raising people's awareness about traditional foods, but her recommendations and recipes are not the end all be all, just like Steiner isn't the end all be all. I think that traditional foods and anthroposophy can work beautifully together, and that any thoughtful family's diet is a highly personal thing.
OP, my mom preaches a lot about raw veganism, and while I agree with a lot of what she has to say, and I eat a raw vegan diet from time to time, it can be confusing to children to hear this sort of talk. I can totally sympathize with what you are dealing with. It sounds like you have found a way of eating that suits you and your family and that is offering amazing nutrition. If you do end up sending your child to a school where that standard isn't being met, you could supplement what your child isn't getting at school with extra good stuff at home. You could even bring a little sack of crispy nuts and a bottle of raw milk for your child to snack on on the way home.

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