W.W Yellowlees, MC, FRCGP Dr General Practitioner (13.4.17-26.5.2014)
A founder member of the McCarrison Society.
He was a founder member of the McCarrison Society as set out in his book “Doctor in the Wilderness” and abstracted here.
His books give a wonderfull insight as to his outlook as set out in the description of “Ill Fares the Land” (see below).
“Dr Yellowlees argues passionately for a return to sanity from the lunacy of fragmentation in agriculture, food manufacture and medical treatment of the ills these fragmentations produce, pleading for a return to the wholeness which leads to true health in soil, plant, animal and man.”
A Scottish rural GP in the days before many had telephones, with wider experience as a doctor present at the front line of action including in Sicily in WWII.
He constantly worked to communicate the message of the importance of nutrition to health to a wider audience, including both through public lectures and as an author.
In the appendix of his book Doctor in the Wilderness he had a section titled “Advice to Government”
All who knew or listened to him were struck not only by the strength of his personality but by his goodness, wisdom, humility and humour and these admirable characteristics are clearly evident in his writings – a true ‘gentle-man’, whom we are privileged to have had with us for so long.
- being interviewed by Sheila Dillon The Food Programme in 2007.
- awarded with The Scottish McCarrison Medal in 2007.
- a few photos of him at our Birnam conference in 2013.
- his writings include: Ill Fares the Land (1979), Food and Health in the Scottish Highlands: Four Lectures from a Rural Practice (1985), A Doctor in Wilderness (1993) & A Time to Weep (2009)
Ill fares the Land
“ Ill Fares the Land by Dr. Walter Yellowlees, The James MacKenzie Lecture, 1978; Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 1979, 29, 7-21. Scottish rural GP Dr Yellowlees argues passionately for a return to sanity from the lunacy of fragmentation in agriculture, food manufacture and medical treatment of the ills these fragmentations produce, pleading for a return to the wholeness which leads to true health in soil, plant, animal and man. (10,000 words.)”http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library.html#iftl
Food & Health in the Scottish Highlands; Four lectures form a rural practice.
Food & Health in the Scottish Highlands: Four Lectures from a Rural Practice by W.W. “Yellowlees, 1985. Dr Walter Yellowlees discusses disease in terms of the work of McCarrison, Cleave, Weston Price, Albert Howard and the organic growing movement. What he finds is “the result of a long chain of events determined by man’s relationship to his land and its crops. Seldom in the writings of our highly skilled specialists is there a glimmer of the truth that there is a unity in the health of the soil, the health of plants and animals, and of man. The worship of technology finds little time for a comprehension of nature’s laws, or for the humility to understand that we cannot defy nature without being punished.” (17,000 words.) Full text online.” http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library.html#iftl
Doctor in the Wilderness
A book full of interesting observations of a rural doctor who had seen brutal conflict in WW2, set within the context of a belief that adequate nutrition was core to health, and with reference to and reflection on the research and writings of Cleave, Sinclair and McCarrison.
Some abstracts are included below by way of insight to the wider contents.
In the appendix he set out advice to government.
Abstract “Doctor in the Wilderness” Watty Yellowlees
Page on appendicitis
The issue of the rising rate of appendicitis being potentially related to diet was also raised in his book Doctor in the Wilderness by Dr Yellowlees; the relevant page is abstracted below:
A highly thought provoking book by a man who had experience life at the sharp end in WW2 as a doctor serving in the Sicily campaign.
“Dr Yellowlees discusses the decline in the standards of UK morality during the last fifty years. Statistics of crimes and offences, continuing street violence, promiscuity, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and overflowing prisons, give a sombre picture of decadence in which drugs and alcohol play their part. Massive rural depopulation gives an other cause for A Time to Weep. In this fertile island, we still have to import some 40% of our national diet. The small mixed family farm has made way for industrialised agriculture, so land and crops are showered with large quantities of artificial chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. Organic farming is opposed by a wealthy multinational artificial fertiliser industry. The resulting population changes in rural Britain bring ever expanding crime-ridden cities. The author argues that the basic cause of our complex national problems, outlined above, is supremely simple: we have abandoned Christianity as the basis of human behaviour.” A Time to Weep Amazon link
Dr Walter Yellowlees An Ecological Approach to Modern Diseases “The Ecology of Disease”. Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 81-91 (1983)
“The surgeon in his operating theatre doing his appendicectomy is interested only in doing the operation efficiently and well; to him comes satisfaction from thus using his hands to relieve suffering. The techniques of operating absorb all his mental energies. His students are eager to emulate him. Neither surgeon nor students at present appear to be particularly interested in knowing the evidence which strongly suggests that the festering appendix under their hands is the result of a long chain of events determined by man’s relationship to his land and its crops. Seldom in the writings of our highly skilled specialists is there a glimmer of the truth that there is a unity in the health of the soil, the health of plants and animals, and of man. The worship of technology finds little time for a comprehension of nature’s laws, or for the humility to understand that we cannot defy nature without being punished.”
Dr Walter Yellowlees The Chain of Health: Soil Fertility and Food Quality
“We are, I repeat, a sick nation; our sickness, like that of earlier civilisations, comes from arrogance and avarice compounded by ignorance; ignorance above all of the fact that you cannot apply to biology the rules and yardsticks of factory-based industry. Biology is the study of life; where there is life there must be reverence. Nature has her strict conditions for the life of soil, plant, animal and man. Only by obeying nature’s laws will this country get back on the road to health and sanity. There is no other way; the broken chain must be mended.”
“When blind ignorance is added to arrogance and avarice the results on the soil have been devastating.”
“The eroded soils and deserts of the Mediterranean seaboard. the dust bowls and deserts of North America and Africa, the desolate ruins of the great Babylonian and Assyrian empires are all the result of extractive farming, of growing for today’s yield rather than for tomorrow’s fertility.”
See Conquest of the Land Through Seven Thousand Years by W. C. Lowdermilk, U.S. (link) One of many such images of destroyed landscapes of many departed ‘civilisations’ in this powerful reminder of the arrogance of man and ease with agricultural fertility and economy can be lost.
“Please note that nature has her conditions; her society is not a permissive one. If we ignore her conditions she hits back.”
Dr Walter Yellowlees Why “Wholefood”?
“I was discussing these things recently in a large hospital with an obstetrician and suggesting that the whole aspect of maternity hospital work would change if only we could upgrade the diet of normal women from Social Class V to that of Social Class 1. “Yes,” he replied, and we would be out of a job.”
The other day I came across a remarkable echo of “The weakness of the remedy lies in its simplicity”. James Lind, the Portsmouth Naval Surgeon who had suggested that scurvy among sailors could be prevented by a ration of lemon juice, wrote, “Some persons cannot be brought to believe that a disease so fatal can be prevented by such easy means. They would have more faith in an elaborate composition dignified with the title of an anti-scorbutic golden elixir or the like”.