Food is a gift. It’s a gift from the earth; it’s a gift from a mother to a child, to those we love and are getting to know, and from those wanting to show gratitude and reverence.
Most of us have forgotten food’s significance beyond physical health or sensual pleasure. But a number of small companies are working to not only remind us of food’s sacredness, but to improve its capacity to nourish through the power of human intention.
Intention enhanced foods are taking the trend of organics and fair-trade one step further – moving beyond nutritional, healthy and ethical food production to using food as a vehicle for love and blessings.
At Intentional Chocolate in Madison, Wisc., Buddhist meditators trained by the Dalai Lama embed chocolate with prayers for "optimal health and functioning at physical, emotional and mental levels" before it’s released to the public.
H2Om Water from Southern California infuses spring water with spiritual vibrations through music and color, and then encourages consumers to interact with the water through reading and contemplating key words on its packaging.
And Natural Zing, a health food company based in Maryland, nourishes people with more than healthy food and ethical growing practices, by offering love and care through community gatherings and educational events at their non-profit farm, Spirit Bliss.
While the innovative application of science and esoteric wisdom gives these companies a cutting edge feel, Jim Walsh, founder of Intentional Chocolate reminds us that the power behind his chocolate is ancient, simple, and available to us all. "Remember how our mother’s chicken soup helped us feel better when we were sick?" he asks. "It was the love she put into it!"
Nourishing the world
Can love really make a difference? Try drinking a bottle of H2Om branded with love and see. (Or try thinking about someone you love, while drinking your own water!)
"Water is highly receptive," says Lex Lang, co-founder of H2Om, echoing the wisdom of Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto whose "Hidden Messages in Water" became popular in the U.S. a few years ago and helped show the impact of thought and feeling on the crystalline structure of water.
H2Om uses water’s receptivity in two ways. First, they play spiritual music based on solfeggio frequencies – such as those used in ancient Gregorian chants – while it’s stored in the warehouse. "But that’s just a bonus," says Lex. More importantly, the company encourages consumers to think it while you drink it and impact water through contemplating a word chosen from the packaging. There are many words to consider, including love, peace and joy (and OM, of course).
Natural Zing founder Helen Rose also wants her business to serve others. She makes sure their goji berries are grown by the Goji Farmers Co-op, a group of Tibetan wildcrafters who work to save endangered plants used in Tibetan Medicine. All Natural Zing and Spirit Bliss promotional and educational materials are printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. Their warehouses are fueled by solar power, and they only hire people with "a sense of service to the community."
All their products are mailed out with a stamp declaring, packed with love ("When the shippers remember!" Helen laughs over the phone). Helen even offers free, raw, vegan Thanksgiving dinners at her family’s home for anyone that wants to come. "The first year we had 20 people. Last year it was almost 90," she says. And these aren’t people she knows! They’re mostly strangers who respond to "notices with on-line groups and local vegetarian groups."
For Intentional Chocolate founder Jim Walsh, chocolate provides a natural vehicle for love. The cacao plant has long been revered for its healing energies. Beloved by the Maya for its spiritual properties, and understood to be a gift from Quetzalcoatl the god of air, light, and life, by the Aztecs, its botanical name – Theobramba cacao – literally means "food of the Gods."
"Just look at the face of a child eating chocolate, and you can see some of its power!" he says, with a modern illustration we can all relate to.
Along with embedding chocolate with good vibrations, the company donates more than 50 percent of profits to people and programs researching and applying the power of positive intentions to world issues. They also contribute to non-profit organizations through creating specialty chocolate and packaging.
And like H2Om Water, Intentional Chocolate hopes others will learn to use intention in their own lives. Included in their gift baskets is a "Little Scroll of Intention," a nine-step "how to" guide that begins with "make clear your intention" leading into "do no harm, benefit others," and eventually encourages alignment with the "we" not "me."
The business of abundance
More and more, a commitment to others and the planet, and the spiritual principle of abundance are taking their place in our collective consciousness. But can they really contribute to this world prosperity?
H2Om knows that doing good means doing good business. It was founded in 2006, and in two years its business has multiplied times five, and its water has grown from being sold in two stores to 80 stores west of the Rockies. Lex says, "It benefits people to have businesses designed to enrich others!"
"We’re here to serve the community," is Helen Rose’s attitude. "We will grow if the community wants us to grow." Natural Zing put up its first websites in July 2003, and in its first year had one to four sales a day. Now they ship out on average 150 orders a day and are a $4 million dollar business. "Our business in the last two years has had a steady increase of 65 percent from year-to-year sales revenue," Helen says. "And we’re expecting a 70-percent increase this year over last year’s sales."
While it is too early to examine sales figures for Intentional Chocolate, Jim Walsh knows the chocolate serves those who eat it. A double-blind study shows that one ounce of Intentional Chocolate a day for three days increases subjects’ well-being, vigor and energy by an average of 67 percent, and in some cases as much as 1000 percent (see Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, October 2000).
Awakening to intention
The sacred nature of food has long been recognized in spiritual practice – as with observant Jews who bless food before eating, or in preparation of Hinduism’s holy Prasad. Or at the little Carmelite monastery in the St. Croix Valley of Wisconsin, where every harvest season the nuns bring the "choicest tomatoes" and other ripe vegetables to the chapel where they are blessed and served as a reminder of God’s goodness and Mary’s fruitfulness.
Waking up to food’s sacred possibilities has been part of a spiritual process for all these entrepreneurs. Lex and Sandy Fox, his wife and co-founder of H2Om, were on their honeymoon in Hawaii when, during a simple meditation, they projected positive intentions to the planet through ocean water. A series of synchronistic events, dreams and even a vision followed, leading the couple to their new life of service.
Helen says her life before Natural Zing and Spirit Bliss Farm was a "success" but only from a "financial point of view." "My husband and I had done the corporate thing," she says. "But we just felt there has to be more meaning in life. We wondered, Are we really helping people?"
Wondering how to serve, they acknowledged how they had been helped through raw food prepared with attention and care. Offering that to others was a natural step.
Jim Walsh was also a success working seven days a week for communications firm in Chicago when he was stopped in his tracks by a near-fatal whitewater rafting accident, after which his doctors suggested he get his affairs in order. "Suddenly, I had big regrets about how I’d spent my time," he admits. He saw with horror that his whole life he had come from "the me, not the we," and after a year of recovery, he moved to Hawaii with his family to devote himself to a more nourishing practice – growing what the New York Times was to call "the best chocolate in the world."
There, Jim had an epiphany. Describing it as "mother’s chicken soup syndrome," he saw that "lovingly prepared foods, by someone who really cares, has curative effects." So he took the leap and began enhancing chocolate with love.
Jim and his fellow business people are clearly on to something. Market research shows that consumers’ commitment to "fair-trade" and organic products continues to grow. The recognition of the power of intention is also growing – evidenced by the popularity of such books as Lynn McTaggart’s The Intention Experiment.
Dr. Dean Radin from the Institute of Noetic Sciences has spent a lifetime studying the effects of consciousness on external physical and energetic systems. "Focused human intention is one of the most powerful forces on earth," he says.
For Nancy, Jim, Lex and Sandy, using positive intentions to feed others just makes sense. And why not for all of us? When we cook, when we touch, when we serve through food or through speech or through action….
As Jim says, "With our thoughts, with our wishes, we can both help and harm each other. Why not use them to help? And not just the ones we love – but the whole world?"