There’s a simple saying that you are what you eat. It’s a simple concept that now guides the work of James Colquhoun and his partner, Laurentine ten Bosch. This strikingly attractive young couple exude the image of good health, a message they are now spreading around the world through documentary films and an interactive website. HT editor Michael Berry interviewed these spruikers of good nutrition at their home in Montville.
JAMES AND LAURENTINE had a couple of life-changing experiences that turned them on to the importance of nutritional science. They were both working on luxury yachts – James as a ship’s officer and Laurentine in logistics.
“We were working for all sorts of very wealthy people but with all their wealth they were often struggling with chronic illness”, says James. “They were living voluptuous life styles on their massive yachts with 35 crew running around after them. They employed five star Michelin chefs who cooked very unhealthy meals. They had masseuses to keep their circulation going, and expensive doctors who never went into the kitchens to ask, what are you feeding them? “
James and Laurentine could see that money was not buying a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, they saw that good nutrition was the way to improve a person’s health. Their keen interest in nutrition led them both to the Global College of Natural Medicine at Santa Cruz in the US.
After they graduated as nutritionists, they experienced the second life-changing experience, which was more personal.
“My father was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and anxiety,” says James. “The medical profession couldn’t offer any hope, yet at the same time our studies showed that there were known nutritional deficiencies and known toxicities that could be addressed with that condition.” Laurentine picks up the story. “He used to say to us, ‘I don’t know how to explain to you guys but I just can’t get out of bed. My muscles won’t work’“.
“There is a collusion between the drug companies and doctors,” says James, “and this leads to a heavy bias towards prescribing medicine rather than understanding the patient. So what we were trying to offer my father was another side to the story.”
James details with some satisfaction how he and Laurentine helped his father get off his cocktail of drugs and onto nutrition-based therapies. His life changed dramatically to the point where these days James’ father regularly goes out jogging. “His illness was the trigger for us to think about making a film,” says James. “We decided on film because most people with an illness like my father’s don’t feel like reading a thick book on understanding biochemistry for example.”
More than two years ago and recognising the widespread impact of documentary, James and Laurentine sketched out their plans for a film that became Food Matters, a hard-hitting, 80-minute expose of the ‘sickness industry’ and the enormous benefits of nutritional therapy. With a host of renowned scientists and nutritionists like Andrew Saul, Charlotte Gerson, Phillip Day and Dr Victor Zeines, the film carefully presents the story that nutritional therapies are less harmful, less invasive and more economical than most conventional medical treatments.
“We came into film to tell a message,” says James, “not because we are documentary film makers or journalists, but believing that people need to know about their health issues and how to deal with them from a nutritional perspective.”
With refreshing lateral thinking they decided to avoid the traditionally slow and expensive film production and distribution models, by producing and distributing the film themselves. While they are critical of doctors for not telling the nutrition story they realised the quickest way of getting their message to the public was to have doctors hand out Food Matters through their surgeries. They also set up a website and used a community screenings model allowing the film to be screened free to communities.
“That went like wildfire,” says James. “We had screenings all across America, Canada, Europe, Israel, the eastern bloc countries, Cambodia, Australia and New Zealand. That’s when the website gained in popularity and we became accepted into the traditional TV world and film festivals.”
Food Matters has since been dubbed into French and German and was recently launched through the Whole Foods store chain – the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods. As a DVD it has reached sales of 175,000 world-wide.
The speed of success for James and Laurentine has meant engaging sales and press agents, getting a warehouse in the US and managing a busy website that is now a focus for the global good nutrition message. “We wanted to bring together people on the website who had clinical experience using these therapies,” says Laurentine. “And for people looking for solutions to their problems. They can come to our website, look at our film, interact with the articles that we have there and start to become their own case manager.” “More and more people are now going to their doctors,” adds James, “asking things like, ‘because I am diabetic, what do you think about using cinnamon or chromium supplements to help with my blood sugar,’ .”
Long term this entrepreneurial couple want to produce another investigative film into the economics of the mainstream food industry and how it is geared to shareholders’ returns rather than good nutrition. You might wonder why James and Laurentine are not living in Los Angeles rather than Montville. The pair answers with knowing smiles.
“We run our business mainly through the internet,” says James. “So if someone orders a DVD in Bahrein, Bangkok or Montville, it gets shipped from the States and we don’t have to deal with that aspect of it. So we can operate from anywhere really.”
“And we fell in love with this area,” says Laurentine. “It’s magical. And this is the place to bring up kids,” she says smiling at James.