Being ISKCON - Growing Food

Srila Prabhupada has denoted the purposes of ISKCON very carefully. The purpose of ISKCON for its members to live their lives by comes under the 7th purpose. ISKCON devotees have not been lead up this path, and I know devotees who do not even know the purposes of ISKCON, amazingly. The whole idea of this 7th purpose of ISKCON is to guarantee a mode of goodness lifestyle and wholesome nourishing food, the way nature intended. The point of Simple Living, the 7th purpose of ISKCON, Cow Protection and devotee communities is directly meant for ISKCON members. Sadly this has not worked out wholesale in ISKCON, and the fallout for ISKCON members has been that they are locked into the modern agricultural process of industrial, chemical and Genetically Modified food production. And the vocational engagement in service does not exist in today's ISKCON, perhaps just pockets of it.

Srila Prabhupada's instructions and vision for ISKCON members is far reaching with wide inclusion for all members based on the mode of goodness, Cow Protection, and land. The conclusive idea behind this radical concept from Srila Prabhupada set the stage for all members of ISKCON to live closely together, to enculture the idea of dependency on each other, and to grow luscious wholesome food for body, mind and soul.

The concept of the noblest of vocations, farming, would bring all the members of ISKCON closer together and help us live a more simple, natural way of life. Thus the lifestyle alone would bring stability socially, economically, individually and collectively.

"Simple Lliving and High Thinking is the solution to economic problems. Therefore the Krishna Conscious movement is engaging devotees in producing their own food and living self-sufficiently so that rascals may see how one can live very peacefully, eat the food grains one has grown one-self, drink milk, and chant Hare Krishna."

(Teaching of Queen Kunti, 18: Liberation from Ignorance and Suffering)

By engaging the devotees in these most noble efforts so many facilities are available for the devotees. The whole idea is to by-pass the modern industrial mentality of existence in the material world by living in touch with nature and connecting back to our food sources. Just this simple activity alone brings the mind into peaceful places to chant Hare Krishna.

But this was not all of Srila Prabhupada's plan. His plans were to the detail for each and every member of ISKCON. What each of us face on a daily basis is the economic problems that we have to solve. In fact, all species of life have to solve their economic problems. Modern capitalistic industrial economic solutions are created from the mode of ignorance and mode of passion and actually create more problems than they solve.


   Srila Prabhupada's ideas were to live a simple life; a more natural way of life depending on the mode of goodness, land, cows and bulls and community, and these would solve all our problems so we could engage in chanting Hare Krishna peacefully. We do not have to work like hogs, dogs, camels and asses just to live.


       "From an economic point of view, if one man has a cow and four acres of land he has no economic problems. That we want to start. He can independently live in any part of the world. Simply he must have one cow and four acres of land. So let the people be divided in four acres of land and a cow and there will be no economic question. All the factories will be closed. (Everyone laughs)." …

       "We have to think, "Plain Living, high thinking'". The necessities of this bodily existence should be minimized—not unhealthy, but healthy to keep oneself fit. But the time should be utilized to develop Krishna Consciousness, spiritual life. Then this whole problem is solved."

       (Discussion with Allen Ginsberg)


   The modern capitalistic industrial chemically driven society is only seeking one thing—to make money, a profit. But Srila Prabhupada's idea is to seek healthy life based on a simple lifestyle to develop Krishna Consciousness. The reason Srila Prabhupada wanted to introduce this "Simple Living" concept based on Cow Protection and a more natural way of life has many implications. If we want to be healthy we have to eat healthy food, not just a vegetarian diet, but produce that has been grown wholesomely and gets to our plate without any processing—I mean proper old fashioned produce without chemicals, violence, food processing and supplements. Pre-industrial revolution food before processing was invented.



   The more refined our food has become the more diseases have been created. The more unhealthy people live. And the way to by-pass all the problems that this absurd capitalistic society has created, especially in its agricultural processes, is to simply produce our own food and milk products with four acres of land.

   The principle of devotee agriculture is mode of goodness. The reason for this is so our agricultural produce is wholesome, as nature intended. Our bodies are created by nature and food is created by nature and when these two are harmonized, then healthiness is the by-product. And this is Srila Prabhupada's idea. We should be fit and healthy to pursue the important feature of our life, which is Krishna Consciousness.

       "So our eatables should be food grains—krsi-go-raksya – and milk. Krsi means by agriculture process you can produce fruits, flowers, vegetables, then rice, wheat, and pulses, and you have got milk. Then where is your want, scarcity? This is civilization."

       (Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1.22 - Chicago, July 6th 1975)

       "Everyman should produce his own food. That is Vedic culture. So this example is given: idam sariram ksetram. That means to own a certain piece of land is the basic civilization. Everyone must have a portion of land to produce his own food. There will be no economic problem."

       Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 13.35 - Geneva, June 6, 1974

   Now can you imagine this in ISKCON!!! Can you imagine every devotee owning 4 acres of land and a cow? Can you imagine devotees actually having to toil all day weeding their potatoes, planting vegetables, and milking their cow twice daily. It would be incredible to see:

instead of collecting the government dole (UK slang) money and going down to the supermarket. Instead of being totally dependent on tax payers,

Capitalism and exploitative business and agriculture.

Yes farming is the noblest of engagements, but it's really hard work. But how else do we connect back with our food source? Certainly not through shopping malls, supermarkets and stores.

   Another interesting point that could be drawn from this approach by Srila Prabhupada is the way devotees live, where they live and how they live. To achieve this kind of communal living within four-acre type distances from each other would need a combined,  agreeable solution. Obviously the land would be fairly rural depending on how many devotees would be involved and transportation of bartering goods would be easily managed on foot or by ox/horse cart. Dependency would be a high factor and the opportunity for mode of goodness lifestyle within grasp. You can imagine the future in this respect of a quilt work/tapestry of four-acre small-holdings stretching as far as you can see… of Vaisnava holdings working harmoniously, farming the land.


   And this is what Srila Prabhupada is teaching - just to solve the economic problems that we all face daily. And it takes just some time and work, and then it's just chanting Hare Krishna with the cows on a beautiful sunny day in the glorious sun drenched meadows. Come on, you devotees! What could be more ecstatic and satisfying?

  And so the community lives together in this mode of goodness, with proper wholesome food, protected cows, working bulls, working humans, and no more horrific supermarkets.

   And as spiritual as we want to be and as brahminical as we all want to be, we also have to be as practical as we can be. And if we can't do that then we need to learn how to protect cows, how to grow food on our four acres and how to barter with other devotees to keep body and soul together. Then by this preaching tool we will be able to show the rascals how to grow our own food and be happy chanting Hare Krishna.

   Otherwise is it all not just a façade, being ISKCON? How long can we hide behind big buildings and capitalistic lifestyles -- using concrete and metal as a building material and government handouts to pay for chemically grown food?


   As Srila Prabhupada's directive for all ISKCON members we have the 7th purpose of ISKCON. We have the concept of Cow Protection, we have the mode of goodness lifestyle, and we have community living. Put them all together and that's the conclusive life path to live for devotees in ISKCON. That's what being a member of ISKCON means. Being ISKCON.



   What's gone wrong and why doesn't it work like that??? And even more importantly, what are the ramifications for devotees in terms of lifestyle, implicated in modern life and sadly in their diet? To get the answers to all these questions would take a book of over 500 pages. And to review all your eatables and food that is bought from supermarkets, stores and farm shops is a particularly hard task.



   Since I was a young man, I have always tried to eat healthily. I was a bit of a hippy type and after quitting all the "sex and drugs and rock and roll" I discovered Srila Prabhupada's Books and devotees. The unmistakable sound of a Kirtana captured my mind and I was hooked from the 1975 Great Windsor free festival. And the second hook was, of course, Prasadam. And like so many other devotees, I only ever wanted to offer the best products to Srila Prabhupada. And in my ignorance I set about that task.

   Thirty-eight years later I have discovered the truth about our modern food. In a word, it's really scary. I am going through an audit of my whole entire diet, from top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned. I thought I knew what I was buying but it turns out I was blissfully ignorant. Even though I grow as much fresh food as possible I still have a long ways to go. The words of Srila Prabhupada became even more relevant to my food source and my understanding that we should all, every man, own four acres of land and one cow. It just rings in my ears daily.

Why on earth should we support all those capitalistic exploitative processes that produce our food?

Horror Story

   The logic goes a bit like this. Unhealthy land produces unhealthy plants, and unhealthy plants eaten by man produce unhealthy men. And then disease is upon us, our immune system is compromised and old age prematurely enters into our lives. We become slaves to marketing, advertising and packaging. We don't fully understand what processes are put upon our foods before they reach our cupboards. And the false propaganda that is taught as fact by medicals, pharmaceutical companies and advertising campaigns make us believe anything. They simply bewilder us with their jargon.

   White sugar can cause over 76 medical problems in the human body. If I described how they extract Vegetable Oils into the fluid that we see on supermarket shelves you would never touch it again, what to speak of cooking with it.

   Margarines and spreads are only one molecule away from being plastics and share 27 chemicals the same as paint. That which drives food companies today is not health products but "shelf life" products, and that includes vegetables too. They actually use certain animal genes to help prolong the life on the shelf of some vegetables.

  Top of the toxic vegetable and fruit list with chemicals of all descriptions are: Peach, Apple, Bell Pepper, Celery, Nectarine, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Lettuce, Grapes, Carrot, and Pear.

   When pesticides are sprayed onto crops only 1% of the spray reaches the pest, and the other 99% gets blown around the world until it eventually spreads a layer of toxicity on all crops. Even "organic" crops have a reduced amount of toxicity.

  We are lambasted with "trans fats", "hydrogenated fats", "hydrolyzed proteins", overheated milk that destroys all nutrients in milk, orange juice that has been pressure fed through microscopic holes that makes the juice become oxidized and therefore loses all its nutrients and has to be added with orange "products" to gain the flavor back. Grains are bleached and milled till there is no wheat germ left, the milling of wheat is by metal knives that mills the wheat to bits, unlike the traditional method of stone ground whole meal flour that preserves the wheat germ. And unfortunately the list goes on for about another 495 pages with practically all foods affected.

   Going through all the "food" products that we face on a daily basis reads more like a horror story. Historically, natural fats have been a basic pillar of human diets. But the modern techniques for extracting oils from soya, maize and vegetables that we recognize on our supermarket shelves don't bear any resemblance to the old traditional fats of the pre-industrial revolution times. From the traditional method of cold pressing we have travelled technically to the "processed" era to produce our foodstuffs.

   Essentially most of our fundamental foundational foods have been destroyed through the processing techniques. The essential basic three are sugars, grains and fats. And just to illustrate one example in a peripheral way I will focus on the process of extraction of oils. What we call cooking oils.

   The oil seeds, soybean, rapeseed, cotton, sunflower are harvested. Mostly these plants are already genetically modified with huge amounts of pesticides. To begin the process of extraction the seeds are mixed with water and heated to 110-180 degrees C. They are put through a high volume press at high pressure and high friction. Next the slurry that is left over is mixed with Hexane. (Hexane is a petroleum product used in glue and recreational solvents.) Now the mixture is put through a centrifugal system with added phosphates to begin the separation of the oil and the residues. The next four steps are: 1) water degumming; 2) neutralization; 3) bleaching; and 4) because it smells so revolting at this step, deodorization. It's heated to well over 500 degrees to rid the product of volatile compounds, odors and tastes.

   Then the packaged product is marketed to the ignorant public, that's you and me, as "refined oil". With citric acid added at the final packaging point to inactivate any metals such as iron or copper, we have the final product that we recognize as "cooking oils" that look "pure" clear and fluid in plastic bottles and that have a longggg shelf life, not health life.

   This process of "refining" the oils is exactly analogous to the refining of whole-wheat flour and whole sugar into white sugar. In all cases we start off with a product full of natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other food factors and reduce the original natural food into relatively a "non-food" that is devitalized and stripped.

   Our conditional problem in the west is that we have grown up with  these products and think them "normal" but they are anything but normal and certainly have no nutritional value whatsoever. If we progress into the next category of foods that are ready and waiting to eat we are then faced with hydrogenated and trans- fats and hydrogenated proteins, all of which have been chemically changed from original fats that are inedible and indigestible and should not be on your plate in any circumstance. But to cut a longer story short, this is a repeated process of "refining" our foods to a product that is not healthy and with no nutritional value to the human body.

And just as a bit of a historic story, this whole process of destroying our foods came along simultaneously with the industrial revolution. It's been with us but a short time, but has overwhelmed the dietary needs of the world population quickly. The industrial revolution could actually be renamed the agriculture revolution and can be identified as the beginning of the end of good wholesome food for humanity. The capitalistic attitude begins. And that's exactly where we are now, but in way worse shape.

And this brings into context exactly why Srila Prabhupada introduced the concept of Simple Living, self-sufficiency, Cow Protection, land dependency and the mode of goodness lifestyle. Why? So that devotees in ISKCON can by-pass all those "refined" unhealthy foods and those lower modes of nature.

Being ISKCON means the perfect, harmonized lifestyle with wholesome nature intended foodstuffs to offer, for healthy lives in which we can chant Hare Krishna with peaceful minds and go back to Godhead easily.

In today's closely connected world there is a predominance of recognizing that Srila Prabhupada is the great unique Spiritual Master, both in His physical presence and after His physical presence. But my point is, why on earth haven't we created all these simple lifestyle changes from the capitalistic ones that we grew up in?

Why haven't we followed Srila Prabhupada's simple instructions on growing our own food, producing all our own milk and milk products, living the mode of goodness lifestyle, self-sufficient ISKCON, and all those many instructions He handed to us on a plate? It was and is only for our benefit. Are we being ISKCON, or are we being political unhealthy ISKCON? The choice is yours.

Let us collectively and individually follow Srila Prabhupada's instructions. His teachings encompass everything we need to live a healthy and peaceful life in this world, and illustrate it practically, and everything we need to go back to Godhead at the end of life. Is this not what it means to be ISKCON, 'Being ISKCON'?

by Dusyanta dasa   May 08, 2013 — WALES, UK (SUN)

Post or Reply to Post