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News 120, Hot Topic

Growing and Preparing Food with Love:
Better Alternative to Genetically Modified Food

Excerpted from conversations between Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her disciples
during the International Retreat at Youngdong Center, Korea • May 10, 2000
(Originally in English)

M: If you love your vegetables, they grow. Really, you must love them. There is a true story about a farmer in Scotland who loved his potatoes so much that his potatoes grew very big. It was in the newspaper. That is exciting, better than cheap cheating and quick profits. If you really put your heart into doing it and if you really love it, your plants will grow very big. In Miaoli, I gave each resident a piece of land to grow different things. But for the other ones, who didn't care and just threw them there and planted them, who did it just because Master said they had to plant something, who planted them cheaply and quickly, and felt there was no need to take care of them, all the worms came and ate them. Later they made an excuse: "Well, we have to be compassionate and let the worms eat our stuff." Also, it didn't grow very big, but it grew to be very tender; it looked good and the worms liked it. Other people who grew their plants with love, I saw that the plants grew very fast and had a lot of fruit. That's true, too.

I will tell you my experience. When I was in America, in New York, I didn't have money; I lived in a temple. When I first came there, there was a little plant about that big (Master estimates size of plant with Her hands). They told me it had been there for five years, and I couldn't believe it! Five years, and it was only that big, and yellow here, brown there, and so small. The stem was very small like the stem of this flower (Master points to flower). And I said, "Oh, five years; it must be a very funny plant that doesn't grow." So, I just watered it. And sometimes whatever was left over, tea or whatever, I gave him to drink. Sometimes when I drank tea, he got half or whatever was left over. And he grew, and grew, and grew: My God, he became very big! The stem grew so big that I had to sleep outside in the next room, because it had grown into the whole room already. It was in a small pot like that, (Master points to pot) half yellow and half brown. It grew so much that I had to cut some of it and put it into another pot that I found outside, or into any plastic cup or bottle that I found; and then I cut another. And another one grew again! I had to sleep in another room again because two rooms were occupied. And then later I had to cut it more, and I didn't have more pots to put the plants in. So I moved the already grown plants outside and put them in front of the temple. Everyone passing by could just take them home, and because I had no more room; I had to sleep sitting up.

I was sitting up to sleep, actually; I meditated all night at that time. I was holier than I am now, believe me! (Master laughs.) So actually, we were growing together. I meditated, and he grew just from the tea and water; that's it. And the abbot of the temple asked me, "What kind of fertilizer did you buy?" I said, "What do you mean, what kind of fertilizer? I don't even have money; you don't give me any. How can I buy anything here?"

I didn't have any pocket money at that time. I just worked for free in the temple. I didn't care. So he knew. And even later when he talked about it to his disciples, his disciples came and told me. Otherwise how would they have known? Because they were not in New York when the abbot had asked me about the plants, and they said, "When master talked about you, he said you have too much love and all the plants grow so fast and so big." Yes, when you have love, things grow, too.

So maybe that's a better alternative than the genetically modified method. Nevertheless, we don't mean to criticize them. They have tried; they have been excited over some possibility of ending world hunger, or getting more profit. Maybe in the beginning they meant well, and later on the business people manipulated it, monopolized it, and made it become something else. From there, they took a step further and injected animal stuff, just to experiment and make more profits. So it ends up that the process has become devoid of love. And that's why people protest against it. Because when they eat it, they don't feel good. They don't feel love; they don't feel contented.

With a lot of the food I eat, I don't feel good. And with some food I just eat one serving; I don't want to eat another one and another one. Most of the food that I eat nowadays is without any taste at all; I keep wondering why. Just now and again, very rarely, do I eat a very tasty meal, and I say, "This is how food should taste." Actually, it looks the same. But most food I cannot eat at all. It looks so good; it's prepared with everything, but lately, in the last few years, I haven't been truly enjoying food. Only now and again, rarely; I don't know why. It's not because I am not hungry! Sometimes I don't eat anything all day long, and the first meal I eat still tastes like garbage, like nothing; it tastes unattractive, not appetizing at all. I just pick here and there, and then that's it. It's almost like I'm eating nothing, even though it looks like a lot. And even if I eat a lot, I don't feel satisfied. I just feel full and bloated and lousy.

D1: This isn't scientific or anything, but I know someone who works in a restaurant, and they commented recently that they don't know why, but for the last few years or so everyone has been asking for aspirins. Everyone's been having headaches all the time, the people she works with. That could be.

M: That's because sometimes the affect of love-devoid food is not physical; it's not very obvious. You might think you have a headache or you might think you have dizziness, or you feel like vomiting, but it might be from somewhere. They might think it's from pollution, or they might say, "I am overworked, and I don't sleep enough," or from many things we do. Because the headaches people often have, they don't think about.

D2: Some of our brothers and sisters who have switched to organic feel a lot better.

M: I believe you.

D2: They even meditate better. I can feel the difference if I eat very pure food; I can sit still more easily.

M: Yes.

D2: Sometimes I feel agitated when I eat food that is not very good for me.

M: It's true. That I can confirm with you. A lot of times, when I go on an airplane, I cannot eat anything. Even though sometimes I want to try, I cannot eat; I don't feel like eating. It's so empty. The food looks like food, but it's not. So I just sleep or meditate through the flight, or just don't eat anything.

Or sometimes you go into a restaurant and the food looks so good, and everything is so impressive: the waiter is so polite, first class, but still you don't feel like you have eaten anything. You don't feel like eating a lot, and even if you eat a lot, you don't feel it's worth the effort to chew it. (Master laughs.)

It's the same in our kitchen. If some people in the kitchen love their job, do it devotedly and with love, to offer things to people, the food tastes better. So sometimes, when the same person cooks but he or she is in a different mood, I also feel differently. Even though I am hungry, I can't eat the food. And sometimes I am not hungry at all, but the food is very good, and then I begin to feel like I have a better appetite and I eat more.

But it is rare that I can have a nice meal nowadays. No matter how good it looks and how well it's prepared, seldom can I truly say I have enjoyed a meal. Once every month, maybe; it depends on my luck. It has nothing to do with my hunger. Sometimes, I am very hungry, but it still doesn't taste good.

D2: I think it's also important to have things that are very fresh. I have learned that if, for example, flour is just ground, it's much more nutritious, even if you just keep it for a few hours.

M: Yes, it's true. In India, for example, when I tasted chapatis (Indian flat bread) there, they tasted better than here, because they had ground the flour with a stone mortar. They do it every day, or maybe every couple of days; they don't do it in big lots. They do it at home, just a little quantity, enough for one or two days, or one or two meals. And it tastes like heaven.

Also, in Italy, for example, I ate spaghetti there, and it tastes different than what I have eaten here in any pizza restaurant. Rarely can you find good spaghetti. That's the difference.

In Singapore, I had one favorite restaurant. Sometimes I went there to eat pizza, and sometimes I could eat two or three pizzas, the thin type, called "margarita". It's very thin and small, but it is very nice. I don't know why it has the same look as the ones in other restaurants, but in other places it does not taste as good. So I asked them, "What do you do with your pizza? How do you make it?" And the cook said, "Oh, we don't have this pizza today." I said, "Why is that?" and he said, "Because the flour didn't come yet." They imported the flour from Italy, the kind that is good. That place is good, and that's why the quality is always the same. It's not just like anything else. Maybe in that region they grow organic flour, or it's especially good in that region, so they keep shipping it in. And if they don't have the flour, they don't make that margarita pizza. That's how I found out that it had to be different.

When I was in Germany and was married, my ex-husband and I grew tomatoes. And the tomatoes were just crawling on the ground because there were so many of them that they had to crawl on the ground. They could not stand up anymore. We gave the plants a lot of 'legs' but the tomatoes were still crawling there. There was so much fruit, and it tasted so good!

And when I was younger, as a kid, I also grew vegetables for fun. I grew tomatoes, and they also tasted very good. I can hardly find such tasty tomatoes anymore. Even though, now, they grow them bigger than my tomatoes, they don't taste as good; there is no fragrance. There is something in the tomato that makes you like it so much. Some tomatoes taste just like water. It could be the organic methods and the love that you put into it. So you should be careful about what you eat, because it also affects your meditation, according to our experiences.


Alternate Living

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