Monthly Archives: November 2015

Style-Diet Shot – GTC

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

I walked by a little store on the pedestrian Via dei Coronari in Rome and *had* to try on this ring. It’s Remus and Romulus suckling the Capitoline she-wolf. How much more Rome can you get? Dig this – it’s made in the shop by the sister and brother team of Michela and Roberto Borrazzi.  Crafted from resins, the result is antique pop art using original 1830 plaster casts. *Had* to share this photo Michela spontaneously took.  Ring: ‘Grand Tour Collection.’  http://grandtourcollection.it/ Purse made and bought in Italy about 5 years ago, and Woolen Coat by Selbu Knittings of Norway made and bought when I sang on the Hurtigruten S/V Midnatsol, (Midnight Sun) circa 10 years ago.  It’s gone through the ringer so many times – all those bits of wool that get pulled out by rings and buckles.  Thus, I am proud to proclaim that this Norwegian coat has been lovingly repaired countless times, most recently 4 weeks ago!

GTC

The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Yogic Farming – Say What?

“T’aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it”

– Ella Fitzgerald

Ella’s singing in my head as I write.  And I *get* this song; it popped into my head when I talked with Piero. It made sense, like when I fell in love for the first time and finally “got” every lyric about love ever written. In fact, love is the operative word when I spoke with the yogic farming creator of Kebio’s Santa Pasta. I asked him, “if you had one word to describe what you’re doing?”  Love is the answer.

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Piero  Senatore Musini says, “Love is the natural vibration of everything is living.”

I’ve heard a lot about different types of agriculture. Monoculture, industrial, organic, biodynamic.  I’ve read about farmers in India dramatically increasing their yields reverting to traditional methods.  When I asked Vandana Shiva about that in 2013, she said some folks believed it had much to do with uncompressing the soil.  Basically, the opposite of using heavy machines. There are myriad, wonderful ways to nourish and replenish the soil through ancient and organic methods.  Keep in mind, most industrial modern agricultural methods (from the 1950s  on) have succeeded mostly in depleting the soil and introducing biocides into the soil, air, food and water from glyphosate and now agent orange’s 2,4 D. There are so many viable alternatives.

My parents told me of a farm they just visited last week, where the farmers keep hives of predator insects.  Kind of like cultivating ladybugs to eat the aphids.  Natural pesticides…  Uncle Matt’s Organic orange growers in Florida also use such methods to fabulous effects. But, one thing I never heard about until I met Piero was “yogic farming.”

meditating in fields

Travels to the East have inspired pioneers in the West, as I have discovered in many early movers and shakers in the food movement. Piero had been to India and learned about Brahma Kumaris studies in Yogic Farming. So when Piero took over the management of his family farm in Italy in 2008, he promptly converted it to organic and has since implemented yogic farming.  Piero’s a tall, soft-spoken, calm and twinkly-eyed Italian who lives near one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval towns (Gubbio) near Assisi. Piero’s cara mamma set up an agricultural teaching center on the farm after being horrified when a local child informed her that milk was made at the store.

SAY india

What on Earth *is* yogic farming you must be asking??  At this point, I will let Piero explain, from an article he wrote for Dirt Magazine:

“YOGIC FARMING IN PRACTICE – Methodology

“The seeds or a sample of the seeds are placed in the house, ideally in the corner where meditation is practiced regularly. Thoughts of peace, love, strength and resilience for empowering and linking the seeds to the farmer are practiced every day for few days up to a month before sowing. From then on, regular meditations are conducted in the fields and remotely with specific practices designed to support each phase of the crop growth cycle: from seed germination, growth, and especially a lot of gratitude towards the time of harvest. In addition placing a meditation flag in each field helps in being reminded to sustain the meditative practice during the day.”

SantaPasta_Pagina_stampa

When I was growing up, my dad always stressed how food was better, tastier, imbued with good vibrations when one meditated on the food while preparing it.  It’s about intention.

I grew up with the idea of parshad, or blessed food.  In Hindu and Sikh temples, after prayers, hot sweet parshad is handed out. For me, as a kid, that was always the best part! (I grew up in a sugar-restricted home). So I couldn’t get enough of the delicious sweets after invocations when I studied Bharat Natyum classical Indian dance as a child.  (I was a terrible dancer, sad to admit.) In the Indian tradition of saints and sadhus, food that has been prayed upon or blessed by holy men and women is special. How? Why?

This is something I’ve only just started to understand.  It hit me about a year ago.

I went to a Hindu temple with friends who wanted to pray with me after I had passed close to the veil.  We went into this small but colorful temple.  Conches were blown and bells were ringing.  It was a mesmerizing atavistic cacophony. The chanting was vibrating through the speakers viscerally calling one to the higher, the divine.  I slowly walked around the perimeter of the room where Gods were lovingly dressed in jewels and rich silks.

Praying in the Hindu temple, focusing kind and loving thoughts for people I love, using the gods as a focal point was a new experience.  After I circled the room, a bare-chested priest wearing a dhoti with marks on his forehead put into my hands a mango. This luscious fruit had been sitting on the tip of Lord Ganesh’s trunk.  When I ate it later, I was continually reminded how many prayers were sent its way, passing between and amongst fibres with love and hope.

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A South Indian friend from Kerala explained how mothers take wedding jewelry to the temple and transmit the positive energy of prayers while wearing the jewelry.  Then when it is passed onto the bride, the prayers also go with the gold.

But back to the fields! There have been studies on yogic farming.  To read more, look up the article in Asian Agri-History, (Volume 19, Number 2 May-June 2015 pp 105-122).  They have found that meditating on the seeds and in the fields has helped the yield and the general well-being of the farmers and their families. The Indian Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in September 2015 (Article in Indian Express 15 Sept 2015), that the government supports organic and yogic farming.

LOGO_YOGICFARM

Piero designed the logo above and puts it on his Santa Pasta grown from ancient grains (from Spelt and older wheats like Senatore Cappelli to Millet).  I made some Santa Pasta spelt linguine with broccoli for dinner 2 nights ago.  (Eternal grazie to Maria de la Purification Saez in Marti for the recipe). It was delicious.  We thought of the Kebio farm in Umbria and felt the love on our plates from the whole-grain pasta and the green brocoli with olio nuovo, new olive oil my typing hands helped pick from trees on his farm.

For Piero, organic cultivation was just a starting point.  His goal is to enhance biodiversity, the soil, and nutrition through the cultivation of ancient grains. In his practise of yogic farming, Piero said he goes into a state of mindful consciousness.  He tries to reach a deep part of the self that is love, happiness purity joy, the essence of the soul.  Swimming in that energy, he has loving feelings for nature.  He feels like an instrument, a lens, focusing down into the fields, into the seeds, into the plants and what will nourish and sustain us and the ecosystem.

Here is Piero meditating in his fields:

piero-yogic-farming

The idea of praying on food or objects wasn’t a first for me.  But I really lit up when I heard of yogic farming.  The idea of prayer in the fields, upon the seeds strikes me as simply… bello!

Something to share.

Something to meditate upon.

 

 

Paris Prayers

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.  It is mightier than the mightiest weapon devised by mankind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

France was wonderful to extend me citizenship after I married a French Man in Canada and birthed a French baby in London.  I was given full rights as a French citizen (even the ability to vote in French elections while living abroad) even though I never have actually lived in France. When I took the French nationality, they gave me new *French* names which still make me giggle (I chose Stephanie).

I am proud to be both French and Canadian with Indian and British roots.  And I carry a world passport in my heart.

I am sad for my French family and compatriots. I am sad about all the violent injustice in the world creating masses of pain, anger and disenfranchisement. I now redouble my efforts to make small differences in my every interaction. To continue to fight against injustice as a way to honor the victims of violence. In silent prayer, I see a better world where we find the good in everything and care for that good, nourish it and disseminate it widely.