I urge anyone who is interested in health and nutrition and/or would like to support the State Theatre to to see the documentary "Forks Over Knives" tonight. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre at a $10 ticket price, and for another $50, guests can enjoy a healthy pre-screening dinner prepared by local restaurateurs and caterers. Dr. Pam Popper, a natural foods specialist and founder of the health education company The Wellness Forum, based in Columbus, Ohio, will mingle with guests before the film and host a question-and-answer session after the screening. For more details, read the article I wrote for Friday's Weekender: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/01/14/2453158/experts-chew-on-diet-in-forks.html.
The event, which was organized by local Wellness Forum educator Kathy Pollard, is a fundraising effort for the State Theatre at a pivotal time of administrative changes and financial challenges. This is a preview screening, since the film won't actually be released in theaters until this spring. While I think it's terrific that the State Theatre's board hired Harry Zimbler as the new executive director, the theater still has a lot of debt to pay off, and making a profit through this event could help the theater start the new year on a positive note.
"Forks Over Knives" examines the claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting the typical American menu of animal-based and processed foods in favor of plant-based whole foods. The major storyline traces the personal journeys of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. The film features interviews with nationally known health experts and follows cardiac patients who dramatically altered their diets to save their lives.
I'm totally in support of this event for a couple of reasons. First of all, as a State Theatre volunteer and supporter, I think it's awesome that Pollard has taken this initiative. Also, as someone who has for many years made a conscious effort to eat healthy and exercise regularly, I'm also very interested in the subject matter of "Forks Over Knives." While I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, as are Popper, Pollard and some of the doctors interviewed in the film, I do firmly believe that eating as close to nature as possible is the best health insurance policy. Eating fresh, whole foods has a tremendous impact on one's overall health, immunity, energy level and mood. Here in the United States, we have a polarity in diet mentality. On the one hand, we are bombarded with advertisements for monstrous portions of high-calorie foods loaded with sugar, salt and bad fats. On the other end of the spectrum, we have so-called "diet doctors" and companies who are getting rich by promoting unbalanced diets. People go on these diets but can't sustain them, so they often end up even heavier than they were before, and the unhealthy cycle continues. The only healthy way to lose weight is to make permanent lifestyle changes, which is what the Wellness Forum advocates. And Popper and Pollard, while they are vegans themselves, don't preach veganism to their clients. They simply advise adding more vegetables, legumes, fruits and vegetables to their diets, which leaves less room for animal protein, sugars and oils.
I usually take documentaries that advocate on issues, no matter how well-intentioned they are, with a grain of salt. The filmmakers are trying to convey a point of view, which is commendable, but they are not totally unbiased. However, I think that the majority of Americans really do need to eat more fruits and veggies and less hamburgers and fries, and if seeing "Forks Over Knives" inspires them to do so, then the filmmakers will have accomplished an amazing feat.