The Food Yogi hasn’t been in Bali for even a week and I can already say that I am thoroughly impressed by this hero among men. First he wowed the crowd at Sacred Durianology with his impressive mathematical knowledge. Then he melted hearts when he showcased his charity work for Food for Life, the world’s largest plant based food relief charity, during his Food Yoga talk at Taksu. Now he’s going to share a little bit more about himself, his experiences and his philosophy.
An Interview with The Food Yogi – Amaranth, Sri Lanka & Warrior Yogacise
I think that the aspect of your work that I am most impressed with is your charity work – the compassion combined with the efficiency and effectiveness of Food for Life is downright awe-inspiring. How did you first get involved in it?
As a monk it was my service to the ashram. I learned how to cook for thousands and soon I was heading up my own Food for Life program. After 10 years of volunteering I asked to be the international coordinator and set up the headquarters for the charity in Washington DC. I left Australia to do that and a few years later took the role as the international director which I have held since 1997.
What are some future plans you have for Food for Life?
My hope is that through educating the public about Food Yoga, we can expand the service of Food for Life by empowering everyone to start their own Food for Life-style program. In this regard I actually wrote a book called How to Build a Great Food Relief .
Speaking of Food Yoga, I’m interested to know if you practice physical yoga as well.
Yes, I try to do it every day. I have developed my own style, which is a mix of poses that I enjoy and that give me a full workout. I call my style, Warrior Yogacise, because I incorporate warrior poses, Hanuman poses, hatha yoga, Qi gong, Tai Chi and Calisthenics.
Wow. That sounds pretty cool. I’d like to try it some time. You appear to be quite the creative fellow. Does this mean that you’re more of an improvisational chef or do you prefer to stick to precise measurement recipes?
Preparing food is and art and a science. So while it is important not to stifle creativity in the kitchen, there are certain principles that must not be ignored, and this is the science side. So I do measure carefully when it is absolutely necessary, but when it is not, I just feel my way through the recipe and often make wonderful discoveries.
Is there any one particular wonderful discovery that is head and shoulders above the rest?
Well, I always get rave reviews for my raw cheesecakes and raw chocolate snacks, one of which is called the Mojo Bar. It will put the “mojo” in you real fast.
I won’t ask you for your best recipe because as a fellow chef I believe that certain secrets should never be revealed – it can take some of the mystique that adds to the flavor out, but can you give me another recipe? Perhaps your favorite smoothie?
Sure thing. Here’s the recipe to my Coconut Green Smoothie :
1 large young coconut, water and flesh
5 medium size bananas
2 tbsp wheatgrass or green barley powder
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tsp flax seed oil
1 pinch of celtic salt
1 tsp bee pollen (optional)
Sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try it. Can you share a few more of your favorites with me? Fruit? Vegetable? Nut? Seed? Sprouted Grain?
Banana, Broccoli, Almond, Pumpkin Seed, Quinoa.
Nice list. Allow me to move the conversation back to Food for Life through the topic of specific foods. Which single food do you believe has the highest potential for reducing malnutrition and malnourishment in the world?
According to research done by the UN World Food Program, wherever amaranth is grown and consumed there is no malnutrition.
Amaranth – Delicious, Nutritious & Beautiful
If there was one ingredient that is added to food products that you could choose to be banned what would it be?
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the interview. The subject that your nickname is based on. Forgive me if I am oversimplifying, but if I am to understand correctly, Food Yoga is about connecting with your food on a spiritual level. What I want to know is if you have had any specific intense spiritual experiences with food that have elevated your Food Yoga practice to a higher level?
My work with Food for Life has offered numerous life changing experiences wherein I have seen first hand how food can not only save a life, but literally transform someone’s heart right before my eyes. I also learned to really appreciate the blessing of food from the time I was a monk. Preparing food was not a job, but a meditation and an offering to God. We prepared meals for thousands sometimes, and during the long hours of preparation, we never tasted anything, because to do that would be disrespectful to the divine who should taste the meal first. This intuitive style of cooking helped make the meals extremely pure and powerful and the results were seen on the faces of the people that honored the meals.
Fascinating. Could you pick a single country that you have performed charity work in that has had the greatest impact on you?
Sri Lanka, right after the 2004 Tsunami, when I led a team of 50 volunteers to set up vegan kitchens in villages serving hundreds of thousands of hot meals daily.
Powerful stuff. I’ll wrap this up by asking you for the single most important piece of advice you would give someone in order to connect with their food on a spiritual level.
Remember this one thing and never forget it: Spiritual life begins with the tongue
Paul Rodney Turner is known as the Food Yogi and is in Bali promoting his new book, Food Yoga : Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul.
You can find information about his charity, Food for Life Global, here – http://www.ffl.org/
And finally, he will be running a Food Yoga Workshop which will include lectures on Food Yoga and Gourmet Raw Vegan Food Demonstrations on May 11th at a private kitchen in Ubud from 10 AM – 3 PM. If you are a local Balinese, Indonesian or Expat please ask us about discounts. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 081 237 613 489.
The Food Yogi at one of his Workshops
May your next meal bring you closer to the divine.