- Ryland Engelhart: Living is an Act of Love, Praise, Gratitude and Generosity. Patrick Huey 42:52
I met Ryland Engelhart at a Deepak Chopra wellness retreat in South Carolina. If you are a food person, his name may or may not be familiar to you, but his family’s two restaurant brands in Southern California (Café Gratitude and Gracias Madre) are synonymous with healthy, highly tasty vegan dishes that are not named after ingredients or a chef’s daughter but are instead positive affirmations. If you go to one of Café Gratitude’s eight locations in Southern California, and want a delicious, gluten-free salad of edamame, mustard-marinated kale, warm broccolini with dill, avocado and maple-toasted seeds, be prepared to let your server know when he comes to the table that I AM ENCHANCHANTING.
Before you roll your eyes, know that these affirmations, indeed, Ryland’s doctrine of living are genuine. He freely states that in the early 2000s when he and his brother migrated from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the concept of Café Gratitude, he specifically did so with the zeal and belief of an evangelist. He was on a mission to change the world through food, humbly serving his fellow humans and creating a culture of health.
That same zeal and belief underpins his “huge, foolish project, like Noah…” called Kiss the Ground, a non-profit organization that explores how we save the earth from global warming and the human species from extinction through regenerative agriculture and literally pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere and putting it back into the ground. Kiss the Ground is also the name of a film Ryland produced that has had over 5 million views on Netflix and won significant acclaim for the message that paints a 3D picture of how we can sustain our food supply and the planet.
The film, even with all its successes, has also been deeply criticized for a lack of diversity and not connecting the tenants of land management to its roots in the Native American and indigenous peoples of the North American Continent. That criticism has touched Ryland personally. It has been a source of disenchantment, self-distrust and apathy. He authentically describes how one of the greatest achievements of his life, has also been the cause of pain and the evaporation of his ideas of who he is.
We speak to Ryland during a time in his life when he is the process of rebuilding, reflection and reexamination. This is his season of life where there is no production, but silence, stillness and tarrying as springtime glimmers on the horizon. It’s a lesson for us all, really. As he describes it, there is a “divine timing for the inhale and the exhale.” And as with each breath, there is always a pause.
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