Ayurveda has named the skin “the cream of embryonic rasa”. Rasa is one of the body’s seven tissue types and relates to the blood’s plasma and lymph. Skin is also named, less attractively, an upadhatu or by product of rasa dhatu. In more western terms this means that the quality of our skin relies on the nutrients provided in plasma and the cleansing action of our lymphatic system. Without a doubt, the beauty of the skin from an Ayurvedic perspective relates directly to what and how we eat as well as the healthy functioning of our digestive system. Recognizing this to be true if we are seeking what Ayurveda calls twag sara, or excellence of the skin, I feel it is time to have a “farm or field to face” movement that would take its inspiration from the ideas embraced by the “farm to table” movement.
Farm-to-table refers to a movement concerned with delivering high quality, ideally organic, food that is locally produced to customers quickly with as little packaging, preserving or transport costs as possible. It also aims to connect customers with their food sources and inform them about the global relevance of sustainable agricultural practices. It supports organically grown produce and organically raised meats and is adamantly against GMO’s genetically modified foods. If you go to a farm to table restaurant you will find the emphasis is on simple, seasonal, fresh foods prepared in a traditional manner. You might also hear the term “Slow Food” meaning that time to sit, eat and visit in a relaxed, joyful and appreciative manner is one of the main goals. That is the exact opposite of fast food restaurants where the ritual of eating as a community has been totally lost.
Ayurveda has always taught that beauty and skin care come from the inside and the outside so it makes perfect sense that we should take equal care of what and how we eat as much as what and how we nourish and protect our skin. So, why not a “Farm to Face” movement where we become more aware of both what we eat and equally what we feed our skin.
Let’s look for products that are simple, locally produced, use as little packaging and preservative as possible and use recipes that are based on a healing tradition with years of experience like that of Ayurveda. We can look to flours such as oat, barley, and chickpea to cleanse our skin. Or, explore the added benefits of ancient or “super” grains that are more nutrient dense like black barley, nude oats, amaranth, and quinoa. As an extra boost, we can add powdered seeds like flax or sesame or herbs like rose, lavender, or calendula petal. Then use massage oils from seeds like jojoba, rosehip, grape, pomegranate, and avocado to nourish, moisturize and protect the skin. We can use all manner of organic fruits, herbs, vegetables, salts, and muds as masks, occasional extra cleansing or nourishing. How great would it be to have a face bar at your local natural food store where you could get a mask of the day made with local, seasonal, organic produce. How about a “Slow Face” get together with friends to make face masks or herbal steams - a dinner party for your face? Or simply taking the time to nourish your skin each day just as you would for cooking. Let’s start gathering skin care recipes and get together to appreciate all that farms offer us. Let’s honor traditions, build communities and start taking better care of ourselves, our skin and the soils that nourish us on the inside and outside.
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