There are certain moments in movies that you never forget. For instance, remember that scene in Steel Magnolias when Shelby (Julia Roberts) has a hypoglycemic attack and is forced to drink a glass of orange juice to up her blood sugar? Of course you do. It’s a poignant moment in a classic film that reminds everyone of Shelby’s health situation… But when I see her choking down that orange juice and I watch it dribble down her chin, I just think “Ewwww, bleck…”
See, I’m not a fan of juice– orange juice in particular. It’s so super-tart sweet and there’s something about the way it feels thick and hairy as it clings its way down my throat. It’s as though it’s trying to escape the digestive process. Not only do I not like juices, but it’s the idea of juice. Such a waste, it seems. A drink, a gulp… it’s GONE. No fiber, no chewing, no real sense that you did much of anything, really.
Recently, I saw this film called Beautiful Truth which was a semi-investigation of what’s called Gerson Therapy– touted as a naturalistic alternative therapy to curing cancer. There are some truths to it. The levels of environmental toxins that we unknowingly ingest every day has to have some effect on our systems. The rise of cancer across the board is not just a coincidence. Coffee enemas aside, the main thrust (no pun intended) of Gerson therapy is daily juicing.
According to the film, consuming large (and I mean large) quantities of fruit and vegetable juices can prevent and, in some instances, reverse cancer. This is not exactly revolutionary; most of us are aware that fresh fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients: vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and the like. There is, however, a certainly a level of conspiracy to the film. Garrett, the 15-year-old kid from Alaska that is the main character, yet not its narrator, also kind of creeps me out in a Haley Joel Osment sort of way. The filmmakers, along with Charlotte Gerson, say that Gerson Therapy has been suppressed by governments and the medical community alike. As it’s suggested, the cure for cancer does exist, but big business doesn’t want that information to get out there. I’m not saying that is or is not true, BUT…
CANCER is a scary word and there is certainly money to be made by anyone who claims to have a cure–whether it’s the Gerson Institute’s alternative therapy, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, colonic centers and liver cleanse places, or the medical community charging up for radiation, chemo, and traditional medical cancer treatments (that only work temporarily for the most part.)
I came away from the film thinking: “OK, I see some of their point, but it’s a little extreme. I’m gonna eat more fruits and vegetables in whole form and buy organic on a case-by-case basis when I can (afford to.)”
I’m no juice convert– still not a fan. I like to chew. I like to crunch my way into an apple and use my fork to spear asparagus. I like to pop frozen grapes into my mouth and slice up bananas.
In response, however, a friend of mine bought a juicer– not the nearly $3000 Norwalk Juicer that Gerson recommends, but a juicer nonetheless. Now, it seems like more than half of all our produce gets juiced into a foamy mess of stuff I don’t want to drink. We have more trash in the way of vegetable after-products (the fiber “pulp” leftover from juicing) that we can’t very well compost since we live in a townhouse with very, very little garden space. (Last time we tried to compost, we got a nasty case of roaches wandering around our patio— not exactly the friendly earthworms and good soil bacteria I was hoping for.) I’ll also mention that there is nothing more rank than the stench of juiced broccoli mixed with beets. Will it kill the cancer lurking somewhere in our cells? Who knows. I may know the ‘beautiful truth,’ but I think I’m just as safe eating whole, unprocessed foods that I can actually chew and enjoy. And no matter how healthy beets claim to be, I just can’t hack ’em. I’d rather drink a glass of orange juice.
For a good critical assessment of The Beautiful Truth and the idea of Gerson Therapy, go to Science Based Medicine. More information about Gerson Therapy, as detailed in the documentary, The Beautiful Truth, can be found at The Gerson Institute. If you want to try your hand at juicing, check out Total Juicing by Elaine LaLanne. Even though it’s still not my thing, I will say that juicing is an excellent way to get your nutrients and making your own fresh juice is way better than the sugar and corn syrup-laden juices you’d get at the grocery store.