5 Things We Learned at Donna Karan's Urban Zen Symposium
Last week, Donna Karan hosted the Urban Zen Well-Being Speaker Series, a two-day symposium on nutrition, health and wellness that was open to the public and attended by a mix of medical professionals, alternative therapists and a few boldfaced names like Zani Gugelmann. Held at the Stephen Weiss Studio, Karan’s enormous West Village space and favored fashion show venue, the event was outfitted in signature Donna style: wood block tables with grass-filled vases, and row upon row of green apples.
We learned all about about the new Urban Zen Integrative Therapist pilot program at Beth-Israel Medical Center, the dangers of pill-popping and the benefits of eating the diet of our ancestors. Here are a few other things we picked up…
1) Dr. Oz is the next Dr. Phil.
Mehmet Oz, the symposium’s keynote speaker, revealed that he is taping his last show with Oprah Winfrey this week. After the audience made appropriate “awwww,” noises, he added that it’s because O asked him to start his own show, which will be taped in Conan’s studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Like his frequent appearances on Oprah, Dr. Oz’s show will involve much discussion of superfoods and organ functions, as well as compelling patient stories.
2) Cookies made without flour, sugar, butter or eggs aren’t necessarily awful.
One Lucky Duck Two, the raw-food take-out shop on Irving Place, catered a lunch where dessert included gingerbread cookies made of ground cashews and maple syrup. Although you might imagine such treats to be leathery tasting, misshapen blobs, they looked and tasted like actual cookies. ($13 for 6 cookies, oneluckyduck.com)
3) Mariel Hemingway is a health nut.
Who knew? The actress sat on a panel about women’s nutrition with Spent author Dr. Frank Lipman, nutritionist Susan Luck and holistic OB/GYN nurse practicioner Marcelle Pick. As she recalled (to much stifled laughter), for years she convinced her two young daughters that unsweetened rice crackers were cookies.
If you have the chance to see Kris Carr speak, go.
The dynamic and funny filmmaker held the audience in thrall, even as she told the kind of story we’ve all heard before. On Valentine’s Day 2003, Carr, then 31, was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. Instead of taking it lying down, she picked up her camera and started filming a documentary about her ordeal, Crazy Sexy Cancer. Her battle has since spawned two books and a busy speaking schedule. Her story was touching, honest, real, and inspirational, and it was Carr who had the bon mots of the afternoon. Our favorite? “Make juice, not war.” (You can buy a bracelet with the phrase on her website, crazysexycancer.com) And when she revealed she just received her “best scan ever,” the room erupted into applause and tears.
5) Diet Coke Plus is not so Urban Zen.
When Dr. Mark Hyman, founder of the UltraWellness Center, showed a photo of the vitamins and minerals-infused fizzy invention, it was met with a chorus of hisses. The basic nutrition message of the seminar was that we should be eating foods that have been around since day one, when everything was local, natural and organic. “If it’s brand new,” said Annemarie Colbin, director of the Natural Gourmet School for Health and Culinary Arts in Chelsea, “give it 500 years.”