Just in time to make good on that "get healthy" New Year's resolution, a new food-themed documentary film festival kicks off next week in Elgin.
The goal of the Elgin Food Film Feast-ival is to get people thinking about all things food, ranging from good nutrition to where it all comes from, said Shared Harvest Elgin Food Cooperative president Carol Rauschenberger.
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The food co-op has been in the works for about 1½ years and has sold about 250 shares at $100 apiece, she said.
"We talked as a board about how we can continue getting our message out as well as sell shares," said Rauschenberger, also a member of the Elgin City Council. "The idea of a film festival came from several people, and everyone agreed this was a good way to talk about food."
The Jan. 9 documentary will be "Forks Over Knives," which makes the claim that such ailments as diabetes and coronary disease can be controlled -- even reversed -- with a whole foods, plant-based diet free of animal-based and processed foods.
Future showings will include "Seeds of Freedom," "The Greenhorns," and "What's on Your Plate?"
Each film will be followed by a panel of speakers and accompanied by a sampling of seasonal, fresh foods sourced locally, Rauschenberger said.
"Besides food, part of our story is also about farming practices, local food production, and access and sustainability," she said.
The free films and food are sponsored by a partnership among Shared Harvest and Gail Borden Public Library, Advocate Sherman Hospital, Elgin Community Network, Elgin Climate Change Organization, Side Street Studio Arts and others.
Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson, Advocate Sherman's director of public affairs and marketing, said the festival's mission fits within the hospital's own.
"Advocate Sherman wants to be a contributing member of our community, so any way that we can support local nonprofits and organizations that promote healthy lifestyles, we try to do that," she said.
The hospital didn't participate in the film selection, but is in agreement with the overall message of the documentaries, she said. "This particular project is an interesting and innovative way to raise awareness about the importance of good nutrition and healthy lifestyle for the community."
The festival will run take place once a month through the spring, and culminates in May at the Elgin Green Expo with the showing of videos from the TEDxTalks series "Food Matters."
Films can have a profound effect on one's nutritional choices, Rauschenberger said, whose turning point came when she watched Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," about the effects of living on McDonald's food for 30 days.
"That was the first time I thought, 'Wow, we should really be more thoughtful about this kind of food and the effect it has," she said.
"Forks Over Knives" will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave. The discussion will feature registered dietitian Joan Kanute and physician Lawrence Kosinski, both from Advocate Sherman Hospital, along with chef Caitlin Boyer and Robin Migalla from Health for Life.