“He died while talking on the phone with him … This didn’t need to happen,” says Gwyn Whittaker. Her fiance said he was dizzy, and by the time the paramedics arrived, he was dead of a heart attack. At 50.
Three years later when Whittaker watched Forks Over Knives, it all clicked: Our diets are killing us. “It’s almost like I had a veil lifted,” she says. “Changing his diet would have prevented his death. There’s no doubt in mind that it was his diet that killed him.”
Whittaker, 58, reached out to the documentary’s Dr. T. Colin Campbell and a handful of other medical practitioners and nutritional researchers, decided to leave her job in big data and supercomputing behind and started a restaurant that mimics her food and lifestyle philosophy. Whittaker opened GreenFare, a whole-plant, animal-free salon cafe, in Herndon this past November. The salon refers to its educational aspect, including cooking classes, books for sale and guest speaker events.
Whittaker is a believer that food is medicine. GreenFare serves only organic food and is working to get certified organic, a many-months-long process that includes ensuring everything from the food served to the cleaning supplies used is organic. The kitchen is run by Justin Matthews, an alum of L’Auberge Chez Francois, and Pericles Silva, who started a healthy eating program at the Reston Whole Foods, runs the operations.
This week GreenFare debuts a pop-up stand at the Wiehle-Reston Metro with about eight to-go meal options. The unprocessed dishes—which are oil-free (olive oil counts as a processed food)—include a chickpea and kale bowl, vegetable chili, spinach and sweet potato lasagna, eggplant lasagna (eggplant instead of noodles) and Garderner’s pie, a spin Sheppard’s pie, with vegetables, mashed potato and mushroom gravy. / Wiehle-Reston Metro (North side, plaza level), Monday-Friday, 3-7 p.m., through March; mornings hours, 7-9 a.m., expected next week.