- Why do you eat the things you eat?
- Is it just because it’s tastes so good?
- Because everyone else eats it?
- Perhaps you’ve been told this food is going to keep you healthy and strong?
- But what does that mean exactly?
Here are some things to ponder. Please consider these 5 simple aspects and take a few minutes to contemplate each one and how they apply to your life situation.
Place: Does it make sense to you to eat food which has been imported from far away places?
Product:Are you willing to eat food that is proven to be less vital, fresh and nutritious than Mother Nature has intended. Are you willing to tolerate any amount of toxin and pollution in your food that are known to be a burden on your system? Do you think food should be of lesser quality just because it’s produced in modern ways and said to be ‘cheaper’?
Price: When you choose affordable or cheap food, are you considering the real price you are paying? Are you thinking what you can afford today or what you can afford in life?
People: Would you be happy to eat food produced by people who suffer emotionally or physically as a direct result of their work?
Planet: Are you willing to take more than you give back to planet earth? Do you want to honour the earth which has sustained us since the birth of our species? Is it possible to be a healthy individual whilst all life forms are under threat?
Quinoa is a crop which has kept native South American people healthy and strong for many generations. Not long ago its health benefits were recognized by a bunch of forward thinking health guru’s in the West. It didn’t take long for the stuff to become wildly popular as many people were convinced of its superior nutrition. Exports to the western world boomed and the quinoa price went up dramatically as a result. Whilst well meaning, health focused people are enjoying their quinoa salad in their local health food café, some of the native people in true need of their nourishing food can no longer afford it and have their health decrease as a result. The planet patiently absorbs and transforms the emissions and shares her final drops of oil as big trucks and planes transport these so called ‘superfoods’ around the globe. What are you considering when you believe the food you eat is healthy?
Are you willing to ingest a cocktail of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, preservatives and other manmade chemicals with unknown health effects daily just by eating food? Do you believe that any government institution could possibly control or deem the impact of all these toxins to be safe? Up until world war 2 all food was ‘organic’. A proposition: should food that has been produced naturally without added chemicals deserve a special label at all? Perhaps it’d make more sense to label every vegetable with a list of the residue of the exact chemicals they contain so you can make an informed choice. A conventional farm uses artificial fertilizer to make their crops grow quicker, after a few years of this practice an otherwise healthy and balanced soil becomes depleted of its natural life force and therefore the farmer will rely on increased doses of fertilizer. Unhealthy soil and decreased bio diversity contribute to increased unwanted organisms such as plants that compete with the crops (weeds) insects and animals that eat the crops (pests) and a range of moulds and fungi. Modern agriculture continues to fight the war with these ‘enemies’ with increased amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These chemicals tend to remain on the crop until they end up in your body. Government regulation states a so called ‘safe’ amount of residue found on produce, assuming a healthy person will be able to deal with a certain dose of poison. Modern, well organized governments have safety barriers for most toxicity issues for that matter, ie. a maximum amount of toxicity in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, etc. However, no one is able to predict the accumulated sum total of this complicated cocktail of environmental toxins that one ingests on an average day. Moreover, even in strictly regulated and controlled countries we find these so called safety barriers being crossed more often than not.
The food you buy in supermarkets is generally produced on a very large scale. These manufacturers spend a large percentage of their budget on marketing their products through clever advertisement, without it you would probably not even consider their product. Another chunk of the money you spend on their product gets lost in the supply chain which includes resellers, transport etc. Next time you grab a box of cereal or tin of soup consider all the things involved in getting this product to you. Estimate how much money has actually been spent on the ingredients. Refined sugar, cheap oils, a range of artificial flavourings and colourings designed to make an inferior product look appealing. Can food be truly nourishing once it’s been so far removed from its source, put through endless refining processes and transported many miles? Most people are now aware that poor nutrition like this is linked to chronic decease. If you were to consider the cost of health care to counteract the direct impact of this mass produced, anonymous ‘food’ you would probably find it unaffordable.
Most of us have experienced the nourishing qualities of food prepared with love and shared with joy. It’s safe to assume that most of us harbor the innate wisdom that it truly is possible to stir love into a pot of soup and make it taste better. Energy goes where intention goes, modern quantum physics and ancient wisdom agree on this. How could food possibly be good if not every single individual in the cycle is benefitting, expanding and enjoying wellness and peace. Can we grow healthy crops when we drive families of their land in the name of modern agriculture? Do you know what goes on within the walls of food factories? Are office cubicles, battery hens and production lines true facets of an evolved and wealthy society? Forced slavery may be rare and unaccepted these days but why is a large part of our working population seemingly stuck in a cycle of dreams, debts and minimum wage? Can you read behind the smile of the checker next time you’re in the supermarket?
Can we continue to clear acres of precious rainforest every minute of every day to grow genetically modified soy to feed the ever hungry caged hens on their journey to become chicken nuggets? Is plastic an acceptable default packaging for every single item you purchase, knowing there’s no real sustainable way to dispose of it? Can we safely alter the genes of our crops without understanding how this fits into the complicated web of life and how these gene altered crops affect our health and the health of future generations.
Asking questions – gaining insight – finding philosophy – making decisions – finding solutions
How do we walk the talk of this philosophy at Bali Silent Retreat?
In Bali we are blessed with abundance, a tropical climate and fertile soils contribute to year round harvest of interesting and delicious produce. Bali Silent Retreat is build on 4 hectares of land, a large part of this is used to cultivate fruits, vegetables and herbs. Our team of gardeners are facing the challenge of transforming what was once dense, clay like soil into more fertile and healthy land. By applying age old Balinese traditional techniques along with permaculture principles we find our soil becoming livelier and more productive year after year. Increased biodiversity attracts beneficial wild life and the general love and care that our team puts into this holistic gardening concept results in sweet and vibrant produce. Veggies and fruits are being harvested twice daily, just after sunrise and just before sunset. Herbs are picked minutes before used in our cooking. The produce is thoroughly washed in deep well water and reverse osmosis filtered water before it’s used in the variety of dishes we serve at the retreat.
We cannot grow everything we like to use in our kitchen so we rely on our community of farmers and ‘local food heroes’ to supplement. A number of people in our village produce coconut oil using a traditional process. This rich, incredibly healthy oil is an absolute corner stone of our cooking.
Another interesting product is palm honey and it’s sister palm sugar. Our friend Pak Julie tends to his palm trees twice daily, climbing with a large bamboo stick and collects their sap. This ultra nutritious liquid is called ‘Tuak’ and is used in many ways in traditional Balinese culture to not only produce sugar but also vinegar and palm wine. In our case, his wife boils the sap on a wood fire for several hours until it’s reduced into a sweet, rich syrup called ‘juruh’ or ‘palm honey’. It really is a Balinese version of maple syrup and it’s not only sweet and delicious but full of beneficial minerals and electrolytes. When the syrup is reduced even further it turns into pure unrefined palm sugar.
At BSR we do not use any refined oils or sugars whatsoever. Instead we create new recipes which embrace the natural sweetness of our produce enhanced by these healthy wholesome sweeteners.
Chef Simon explains his philosophy on Garden-to-Table dining at the retreat. WATCH MORE: