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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Food as Medicine, Food for Thought and Where to Discover Both

Jun 30, 2016 10:34PM

By Juliette Jones 


Let food be thy medicine.” 



Hippocrates, the famed Greek physician who taught and practiced medicine in fifth century B.C., is generally regarded as the Father of Western Medicine––not only because he laid the cornerstone for a scientific approach to the medical arts, but because he emphasized careful observation of patients and precise documentation of findings.  

According to Dr. Bernard Jensen, a truly remarkable twentieth-century practitioner of holistic medicine, “The real genius of Hippocrates was not only in turning the healing arts away from magic and superstition to a more scientific approach, but in recognizing that therapy must be consistent with nature and the design of the human body. Both men clearly emphasized the importance of natural cure––especially the curative properties of right diet.   

A skeptic might argue that science has come a long way since the time of Hippocrates. After all, he had no pharmaceutical agents or modern technologies at his disposal––not even a stethoscope! While this may be true, it can also be argued that, in some ways, modern mainstream health care has gone a long way off-track. In his classic text, Foods That Heal: A Guide to Understanding and Using the Healing Powers of Natural Foods, Dr. Jensen remarks that Hippocrates time-honored teachings on nutrition have “been all but ignored by the American medical mainstream.”    

The appropriateness and quality of food we consume is important to our state of health––more so than most people understand. We’ve heard all of the jokes about “hospital food,” but it’s no joke. Superior nutrition is critically important at a time when natural healing forces in the body most need to be supported. Today, the mainstream emphasis is still not oriented toward nutrition or natural cures, instead continuing to be dominated by pharmaceutical management of disease.  In fact, there remains outright bias toward many legitimate disciplines of medical practice such as naturopathy. 

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Despite evidence that nutrition interventions reduce morbidity and mortality––malnutrition, including obesity, remains prevalent in hospitals and plays a major role in nearly every chronic disease that afflicts patients. Physicians recognize they lack the education and training in medical nutrition needed to counsel their patients and ensure continuity of nutrition care in collaboration with other health care professionals. Nutrition education in specialty and subspecialty areas is inadequate, nutrition physician specialists are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and nutrition care coverage by third-party payers remains woefully limited. 

There is no shortage of opinions, specialty diets and writings on the subject of nutrition, both mainstream and holistic. These days, the topic is made even more complicated by the challenges facing our food and water supply. Pesticides, pollution, tainted foodstuffs and genetic modifications all threaten the condition of our food and water.     

Hippocrates emphasized that participation of the patient him/herself, as well as attitudes and internalized beliefs, are extremely important factors in the approach to healthcare. I’m fairly sure that he never imagined the complexity of a world where huge corporations like Monsanto work to deprive the public of their right to know the condition of food they consume. So, where do we turn?    

I personally rely on a number of “good science” sources for nutritional information. Among them, Dr. Joseph Mercola, whose daily newsletter and library are available without charge on the internet. Life Extension Magazine is also an insightful read for new health, nutrition and medical findings from around the world I continue to educate myself and shop for foods and supplements carefully. In addition, I condition my own water. 

When it comes to dining out, however, the ideal is finding a place where proprietors truly care about high quality food, as well as pleasing the palette. Café Evergreen in Nokomis is an establishment where I personally trust everything that comes out of the kitchen. Owners Annette and Ted Weinberger not only have a passion for quality food selection and service, they both possess in-depth knowledge on the subjects of food preparation and nutritional science 

Before immigrating to the United States, Annette practiced as a physician in her native Germany. Her motivation to become a doctor arose during childhood when she witnessed critical illness in her own family and recognized that health care providers could assist in bringing the sick back to health. She determined that, for her, there could be no more meaningful or fulfilling profession than to help restore others’ quality of life 

The German people are extremely supportive of natural medicine. In fact, the government has mandated that all medical schools include information about natural and alternative medicine. Annette has studied numerous healing methodologies, some of which are not well known in the U.S. Homeopathy, thalassotherapy (i.e. soaking the body in mineral water), balneotherapy (i.e. mud, algae body envelopments) and the healing power of food were part of her curriculum.     

For Annette, the “Food as Medicine” naturopathic path is a powerful approach to health and healing, as well as integral to her own lifestyle. “Healthy food,” she states, “contains natural nutrition, dietary fiber, heart healthy oils and muscle-building protein. Your food choices affect your health today, tomorrow and in the future. Proper diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, reverse diseases and promote overall health.” Annette is always available, when in the café, to share her knowledge about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  

The philosophy at Café Evergreen is to both prepare and serve food that people enjoy, while providing diners with healthy options (meat included) without compromising quality and taste. The menu also offers choices for every sort of specialty diet. In addition, Annette regularly blogs about these menu items on the restaurant’s website for the purpose of helping her customers become more knowledgeable about how food can be used to improve and maintain health.  

Café Evergreen is now hosting various groups that celebrate good food choices in a community setting. I dropped by one evening to discover The Whole Food Plant Based Meet-Up Group ––an evening of information sharing, support and friendship. Café Evergreen has an ideal ambiance for such occasions as the spirit of beauty, harmony and genuinely friendly service which prevails throughout every aspect of the dining experience. 


Café Evergreen is located at 801 S Tamiami Trail, Nokomis. For more information, call 941-412-4334 or visit 


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