Sometimes in life you can instantly recognize when something is meant to be. At times this can be difficult. Once in a blue moon it is painfully easy. This interview was one of those occasions. I know this because the second I pulled into the Alchemy parking lot, took off my motorcycle helmet, removed my face mask and looked around, I saw Ben Richards, co-founder of The Seeds of Life, an organization focused on empowering the average person with the tools and knowledge they require to achieve optimal health and consciousness, doing the exact same thing as me across the street. Our arrivals were perfectly synchronized to the second. The only infinitesimal difference was that it took him longer to take off his face mask because it is one of those badass hardcore velcro ones and mine is one of those flimsy elastic ones. Clearly I gotta step my face mask game up. But I digress. Back to Ben. He is a Raw Food Chef, an Ultimate Nutritionist, a Holographic Kinetics facilitator, and one of the most inspirational Raw Foodies, nay, people, that I’ve met in Bali, so I am beyond psyched to be able to share some of his story and insights with you.
All right Ben, we’ll start out the interview with some fun, light questions before we dig into the deeper stuff. What’s your favorite fruit?
Durian, Mangosteen and Cacao.
Ooh that’s a tough one.
I know right. Definitely harder to answer than fruit.
I’ll go with Jicama because it’s a lot of fun to prepare. There’s a lot of creative things you can do with it, like making rice or taco shells.
The Mexican Potato; good choice. What’s your favorite Yoga pose?
Marichyasana D, because it has been the toughest one I’ve practiced over the last year and a half. Once I got it in the bag and was able to do it unassisted, it was such a good feeling; like taking the training wheels off your bike for the first time.
This Pose is so Confusing that It Requires Two Pictures to Illustrate Properly
And your favorite Raw Food dish?
Well my favorite dish to prepare is our Better than Beef Raw Lasagna because of the impact it has on people that aren’t already into Raw Foods. When served warm, fresh out of the dehydrator, it is so reminiscent of the comfort foods that people can associate with that it instantly piques their interest in Raw Food and subsequently what we’re doing here at Seeds of Life.
I had the pleasure of trying it at one of your recent Raw Food Dinners and I was blown away. The resemblance to the taste of real meat was uncanny. Is it also your favorite Raw Food dish to eat?
No, my favorite dish to eat, I’d say, is more of a platter; a traditional Korean buffet with Kim Chi, Pickles and Bibimbap.
How about your favorite Cooked Food dish?
I only really eat cooked food when I’m in India or other countries, so it would have to be a South Indian curry.
On to the Better than Beef Lasagna and Potatoes of the interview; Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I grew up in the Maleny and Byron Bay regions in Australia. My mother was young, wild; even beyond wild, spontaneous, intelligent and loved to travel. So I went to 14 different primary schools. We moved around a lot because she did what she wanted when she wanted and didn’t see having a child as something that got in the way of travel. This was inspiring for me and has allowed me to adopt the same philosophy and learn a lot of great things thanks to it.
I did settle down when I was a teenager for around 5 years in Brisbane. After secondary school I worked as a bicycle courier for 2 years before moving to the Gold Coast and enrolling in a traditional chef course. I earned a level 3 certification in hospitality and a level 2 certification in basic cookery. In the early days, I studied every cuisine I could under the sun. Then I travelled around Australia, working in all different types of restaurants; Italian, Mediterranean, International, you name it. Later I was trained in traditional Indian cuisine.
My passion, however, has always been healing. I’ve studied different modalities for 20 years. I started with body work and moved on to spiritual work. I’m particularly interested in quantum physics, consciousness, and trying to understand what causes imbalance; physical, emotional and spiritual. Now my main healing modality is Holographic Kinetics.
So then how did you end up as a Raw Foodie and was there any particular impetus for your switch to a High Raw Diet?
Five years ago I was living in Tasmania and I’d been doing a lot of internal cultivation, looking at the next step for me as a healer. It is a very pure environment; fresh air, spring water, beautiful scenery, and I realized that despite the pristine environment there was a serious lack of organic fruits and vegetables. There was plenty of high quality meat, seafood and fish, but no good organic produce. It got me thinking more about food, why I like to eat it and what I like about specific foods. Being in that pure environment with pure spring water and fresh, clean air, but poor access to high quality fruits and vegetables created a personal demand for access to good foods.
So I moved to Western Australia and worked at Samudra, a wellness and yoga retreat center, as the manager of the cafe and the kitchen. Then I moved into the kitchen and worked as a chef, making food for retreats, doing demos, and working in the large scale production kitchen. This was when I really took my knowledge of Raw Food to the next level; I started learning about Superfood Elixirs, Tonic Elixirs and Chinese Herbal Elixirs. Soon I was consulting Samudra on their in house blends.
Then came Green Smoothies. They were really the game changer. Once I figured out the right combinations for my body I was able to take my health to the next level. I learned that if I simply blended the veggies and drank them than they would provide energy to my body with incredible efficiency. Classically trained chefs are taught to throw whatever tastes best together on the plate, but there’s more to food than just taste, and Raw Food helped me understand this.
I’m quite interested to hear what you eat now, as such an Experienced Chef and Raw Foodie. Can you please describe your current diet briefly and explain why you have chosen it?
My typical day goes like this: In the morning I drink a herbal tea made with Reishi Mushroom, Ginseng, Schizandra Berry, Astragalus, Goji berry and Licorice root. I practice yoga and then have a juice or smoothie that usually consists of Superfoods, Chia Seeds, Structured or Coconut Water, and maybe some Banana and Honey. Then I’ll eat some fruit on its own; Mango, Papaya, Pineapple and Durian if it’s in season. I’m a big proponent of mono-eating.
In the mid afternoon i’ll usually have a salad with some fermented foods, and then maybe a small salad at night. The longer i’ve stayed activated in this lifestyle, the less food I’ve needed to consume, the less rich, gourmet foods I’ve desired. My transition has been to natural, clean, simple foods; Sprouted and Fermented Foods in particular. I love Kim Chi, Miso, Shio Koji, Kombucha and Herbal Teas.
Ben & Sayuri with Chocolate Pie and the Better than Beef Lasagna
Yes! If you hadn’t mentioned Durian I might’ve just ended this interview right now! Seriously though, that sounds like quite the powerful diet. What has been the most impactful effect Eating Raw has had on your health and your life?
It has allowed me to cultivate my ability to listen to my inner voice and draw guidance from it.
Interesting. Can you share a bit about how Seeds of Life was formed and what the motivation behind it was?
Seeds of Life is a representation of two people coming together to share personal experiences that have become their passions. Sayuri’s passion is to feed people with simple, amazing food that can completely nourish them. She has an incredibly loving approach, like a mother or a grandmother in that sense, with lots of love and intention. She makes a lot of time for and puts in a lot of effort to convey that message. She’s passionate about making things simple for people. She never prepares food if she’s in a bad mood, and holds her assistants to the same standard.
Basically, Seeds of Life is about consciousness. It’s about getting more energy from less. No need for the overuse of expensive supplements. We’ve combined Living, Plant-Based Cuisine with Yoga, Qi Gong, Chinese Tonic Herbalism and Holographic Kinetics. The Seeds of Life are pillars that have allowed us to achieve more, gain more, and access more within ourselves. We’re taking ideas from our reality, from our world, to share with people who choose to learn them.
On your site it says that the focus of Seeds of Life is to “reawaken our true-self through creating the ultimate lifestyle. Activate your fullest potential via the very act of understanding what it means to truly live.” Can you explain what role Raw Food plays in this Ultimate Lifestyle you speak of?
I once read a talk Rudolph Steiner gave on Bio-Dynamic Farming. He brought out a dead body from a morgue. Then he brought a person on stage, and had them stand next to the corpse. He asked the audience what they saw. There was a lot of intellectual response. Finally, one person gave him the simple answer he wanted; there’s a living body and a dead body. Then he pulled out a living vegetable and a cooked vegetable. His point was that what we need to feed these plants and ourselves as human beings is food that is alive, that is full of life. Living bodies require Living Foods. Raw food at the very least is an understanding of the fact that we have a living body.
Ask yourself, what do you think is going to be the most effective food for the human body? Fresh living food. You don’t see animals cooking food. We have to look at nature for the answer. We think we’re separate from nature but we’re a part of it. Animals are mono-eaters; they eat one food at a time until they’re full. They find one plant or tree, eat at it until they’re full, exercise until they are hungry again and then find another food source and repeat the process.We’re the only species that cooks our food. Raw food plays a vital role as being the most efficient fuel for the body.
I’m quite intrigued to see the direction your organization heads in. Would you be willing to share some more specific goals you have, particularly about Raw Food and Bali?
Our goal is to continue running retreats our retreats focused on Raw Food, Yoga, Qi Gong, and our Raw Chef Certification program. We are opening a Cafe and Tonic Bar that will have a studio to run Yoga and Qi Gong Classes and regular Raw Food Workshops upstairs. And we’re also going to have traditional Chinese Tea Ceremonies there. It’s going to be right in the middle of Ubud, so fundamentally, it is to be a place where regular people can walk right in and find fantastic, healthy food that they can discover for themselves. Food that people can relate to, that they associate with.
We’re hoping that people will order something like the Better than Beef Lasagna and then they can be delightfully surprised by the fact that it’s fresh Raw Food. Then their interest will be piqued, they’ll come back, and be opened up to the world of Raw Food and Consciousness. There will be short explanations on the menu about the benefits of Raw food, Yoga and Qi Gong. It will be a place of self discovery where people can access the Seeds of Life that they’ll be able to sprout personal cultivation from. This will lead into us creating a Raw Food Academy and Retreat Center. That is the big vision. And of course, there will be an Organic Bio Dynamic and Permaculture Garden in the retreat center.
You read my mind; I was just about to ask you about Organic Farming. What are your thoughts on the Organic Farming Movement in Bali?
The average Balinese Farmer; their understanding of organic is that it just comes out of the ground. But there are some really passionate farmers that we deal with. The Organic Movement is growing slowly and steadily. You can tell the difference between the good organic produce and the pesticide filled stuff. The colors, the vibrancy, the textures; they are mouth watering. With these people you can tell that they know what they’re doing.
It still has a long way to go in terms of the areas they grow organic produce in; the organic farms are often so close to pesticide-using farms that issues like rice field run off and large rains can affect the water quality. Those things need to be improved upon. But the good farmers are doing their best and there’s a lot of passion in them and their work. They deliver on their word. It’s such a pleasure to get this produce in when we’re preparing for the retreats. A lot of it has been picked the day before, or even that same day. The freshness is unbelievable.
Totally agreed; I recently started buying vegetables from a local farm that lets you literally pick the vegetables off the stem and you can feel the vibrancy of the life still contained within them. With that said, you are definitely right that there are some areas that could use improvement. So my final question is; if there was one change you could make instantaneously in Bali, what would it be?
I don’t think Bali needs changing. I didn’t come here to change Bali.
I couldn’t think of a better way to end an interview. We would all be well served by having such a poignant statement sink into our consciousness. No matter how authentic and altruistic our plans to change Bali are, the only people who can truly change Bali are the Balinese themselves. Ben elaborated on this statement as we chatted while walking to our motorcycles, only pausing for a minute to examine a plant with bright green and purple leaves that he informed me was good for the thyroid and then proceeded to munch on a leaf. Inundating me with potent information until the very last second we were together, I couldn’t help but feel immensely grateful for the time he shared with me.
Ben Richards is a Nutritionist, Holographic Kinetics facilitator, Raw Food Chef, Teacher, Consultant, Life Coach & Seed Planter, with a strong focus on Nutrition, Superfoods and Tonic Herbalism. He is also the author of the ‘Intuitive Flow’ Massage Technique.
Him and his partner Sayuri will be running several Retreats in Bali and other parts of Asia over the next couple of months, including a Love Life Retreat in Bali from July 13th – 20th and a special Yoga and Raw Food Retreat in Goa from September 20th – October 18th. You can find all the details on their website, www.theseedsoflife.net/
Stay tuned for an interview with Sayuri in the near future!