Eating Local - A Yogic Prescription for Wellbeing
Q: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. You have been talking about the relationship between the human system and the celestial geometry. Is there a relationship between the body and that particular part of the earth where one is located? For example, Jamaicans are very good sprinters. Does the specific place where someone grows up influence them? Is that why they tell us to eat the local food?
Sadhguru: How the deeper human system functions is definitely impacted by location. It is true with every other life also. The plant and animal life which is very comfortable in southern India would wither away anywhere around New York State or in that part of the world because the life here has evolved differently. It is not just because of the weather and the volume of sunlight or cold. Those have a big impact too, but why life has evolved in a particular way has something to do with the location.
It is an anthropologically recognized fact that, when a certain race of people migrates to an entirely different geographic location, many racial features in their physiology will slowly change. Over a period of time, there is a distinct change to a point where you can no longer recognize how they were. India has been a cauldron of racial mix for a long time. But, you can see how being at this location on the planet has completely altered their physical features. Of course the temperature, the weather, and the nature of the food that they eat also have an influence.
Unfortunately, for every difference, certain human beings turn it into a discriminatory process. Otherwise, if you study the different types of human beings and life forms that the planet has produced, it is amazing and incredible. There are a whole lot of things to know about this.
The Forces Which Shape Us
The forces working upon life on this planet vary from one latitude to another. This impacts how the body shapes itself. Because of a certain shape and a form that a piece of life takes, it could become differently competent. India’s latitude and longitude largely make its people inward-focused rather than outward. This does not mean others cannot turn inward – everybody can. But definitely by being in different parts of the world, the body becomes competent in different ways. It is not that if you move from one place to another, in next two years’ time everything about you will change. It need not, unless you are willing to change. You could resist, but changes will happen in spite of your resistance even in your own lifetime just because you are geographically located in a completely different space.
It is very difficult to gauge this type of change because the amount of cultural influences and other social influences is so big, and they are so intertwined that you cannot really separate them. But suppose we had looked at the world before the migration started, before we started traveling as we are traveling today. You would have clearly seen this distinction – how the planet generated a certain type of life in a certain part of the world. This is true with every other life and definitely with human beings also.
Eating the Yogic Way
In yoga, the prescription for eating food is the distance a man can walk in a day. In a single day, the distance you can walk should be the radius of the area from which you eat. You should not eat food which is grown far away from you because the body that you carry is essentially a piece of this planet. If you are eating food from that specific area where you are living, there is a constant interaction between your body and the earth. Even today as you are sitting here, if you sit in this place, your body and this part of the earth on which you are sitting are in a constant state of very profound interaction.
It is because of this that being in contact with the earth is a very important part of one’s health and wellbeing. In the yoga center, we are always giving people work in the garden if they are not healthy so that they are in touch with the earth. Today in modern spas, this being in touch with the earth has reduced itself to a mud bath. Well, you must be in touch somehow. It does not matter how you do it, either with a mud bath, by working in the land, sleeping on the floor, or whatever you do – essentially you are trying to be in contact.
Eating for Wellbeing
Food is a transaction. What was in the earth, you are taking it into the body. The body will function best if the food you eat comes from that area of earth on which you are living. Suppose you live on a patch of land, grow your own food and eat it. Within a month’s time, you will see a very distinct change in the healthfulness of your body. If this one simple thing is done, I think we can bring down the incidence of cancer on this planet by fifty to sixty percent. At least fifty percent of the incidence of cancer could be brought down if we are in touch with the earth that we are living upon and the food comes from the area in which you live, not from somewhere else.
Right now, if I go for breakfast, the food may come from New Zealand, Vietnam, or who knows where. We are able to transport things around and there are supermarkets which can sell the world to you, but we are doing this more for pleasure, not for wellbeing.
Editor’s Note: Taste of Well-Being, packed with recipes from the Isha Yoga Center kitchen, is a book that will help you discover the potential that lies within you and the joy you can derive from the simple act of eating. Interwoven throughout the book are Sadhguru’s insights into digestion, nourishment, classification of foods and more. Download now.