Verse 3.13: The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.
How much time do you spend on food? I'm taking about all of it - from thinking about it, shopping for ingredients, preparing it and eating it. Although it definitely varies from individual to individual, I would hazard a guess that at minimum the average person devotes at least 2-3 hours to food, daily.
That number has probably gone up drastically if you take into account the increasing popularity of food and cooking shows on tv. The creation of the Food Network and the myriad of cooking competitions such as Cupcake Wars and Top Chef cause many of us of us fantasize and dream about food even more these days!
Although that's all well and good, there's one important element that's missing. That is: the consciousness of cooking and eating any food.
Although we may feel gratitude for the chef, whether it be ourselves or others, who is cooking for us (and that's great!), what about the ultimate provider? The one who has actually created it all. That's what today's verse is getting it. It is encouraging us to practice the yoga of food.
That's right! We can connect to food in a yogic way! How so? It's really very simple. When we prepare anything, whether it be a meal, a snack or even a drink, we do so in a consciousness of love and care. Then, before we ourselves partake in eating it, we take the time to "offer" it.
Think of it like this. When you have someone over for a meal, don't you offer it to them first? They are your "esteemed guest" and you genuinely want them to have the first taste. Although we may forget, the Supreme is always with us too...but how often do we think to let Him have the first taste? By offering food to the Supreme first, we are recognizing that He is there with us and that He is the one who is providing everything. It's such a loving way in which we can reciprocate with the Divine.
The offering process is also very simple and the great thing and is we don't have to worry that the Supreme will eat everything and leave nothing for us! One can offer food simply saying "Thank you for providing everything for us Krsna!" or, if one is inclined to, one can even recite specific prayers and mantras.
It is important to note though that the yoga texts, such as the Gita, specifically list what items can be offered to the Supreme:
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Bhagavad Gita 9.26)
Every living entity has a soul, even fruits and vegetables. Therefore, by eating these fruits and vegetables without offering them, one will still incur karma. However, when we offer these items in a spirit of gratitude to the Supreme, that karma is removed.
Isn't the yoga of food practical? This was just an introduction though, so please stay tuned. There's more to come!