Food is Medicine, a Conversation with Ziggy Marley

We had an insightful conversation with Ziggy Marley about what inspires him in the kitchen, how he encourages his children to eat healthily, and why natural food is the best food.

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“Food was always a part of our life.”

Ziggy Marley always starts his day off in the best way—with breakfast. Shortly before our call, Marley fixed himself a well-rounded meal, made up of all natural ingredients: eggs with beans and spinach, some broccoli with mushroom, and a kick of jalapeno pepper.

“I dropped the kids off at school, I went to the supermarket, I picked up the ingredients, and I came home and cooked. I wanted to have something different for breakfast, something I had never made before. I got inspired as I made the meal and it became a new thing. It was a unique meal,” Marley said.

When Ziggy Marley creates a new meal, he seizes this time to summon his creative energies.

“Cooking is like making music. I have an idea of what a song is going to be, of what words I’m going to put into it and what’s going to be the melody. Hopefully, the music is good and the food is good and that’s what makes me happy.”

Instead of pancakes, Marley will make his sons “Mancakes.” He creates a fun story around this meal, to motivate his children to want to eat a healthy breakfast.

“In my cookbook, I have a recipe called the ‘Mancake,’ and my boys love this one. They’re a special type of pancake with batter and syrup, all of the good stuff. But I make them even more beneficial than just flour and syrup. We add flax seeds and chia seeds, and sometimes blueberries. I like doing stuff like this.”

When Marley cooks with his family in the kitchen, there might be music on. But other than the sound of the radio, the real entertainment comes from talking with one another. With the lively conversations that are inspired in the kitchen, you can hardly hear the radio—you don’t even miss it.

“I give my kids incentives to eat healthily.”

The Marley Kitchen™, created by members of the Marley family: Rita, Cedella, Ziggy, and Rohan, was enlivened by the family’s love and devotion to flavorful and natural food. Their meal kits are created by their Jamaican influence and observance of fresh ingredients.

“I think for me, while I was growing up, food was always a part of our life. Food was like medicine. It would satisfy and fuel our bodies in the right way, to keep us as healthy as possible. Because everything begins in the gut. The gut is where your health system lives. I want people to know that food is often your body’s first defense.”

When Ziggy Marley’s children get sick, he tells them: See, you’re not eating right.

“That’s the first thing I say to them. I tell them that they have to eat the right food. I give them blueberries. I believe in blueberries. I love blueberries. They’re high in antioxidants… I also tell my kids about the benefits of proteins, how protein benefits their muscles. They’re so active in sports so I encourage them to eat a lot of protein. I just give them the reality of the food.”

“Simplicity with good, natural flavors is how we cook in Jamaica. It’s the best way to make your food.”

Marley believes in simple, natural, and wild ingredients. If you’d ask him, he would tell you that wild ingredients are the best ingredients. The more processed and extravagant the meal becomes, the more it can lose its natural flavors and benefits.

“I eat with my brain. That’s what I tell my kids, to eat with their brains. So for me, when I’m making food, I think about what it’s going to do to my body and the benefits the food has, and also the determinant it might have before I eat it.”

If a person wants to eat with their brain, they’ll first have to know where to look for those beneficial ingredients. The first place to look is within nature: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans.

“Wow, this is like a coconut dream!”

Ziggy Marley and his family created these meal kits to make eating fresh, Jamaican meals an accessible experience for everyone. Each meal was handpicked by the Marley family and was inspired by their own experiences in the kitchen.

The Roasted Yam Tart meal kit is something that my sister Karen came up with. I think it’s very interesting because it’s like a dessert but it is also made with goat cheese, which is something that I enjoy. I like sweet and tangy mixed together. It makes a great snack.”

Even his Coconut Dream Fish dish began as a happy accident in the kitchen, and it became one of his family’s favorite dinners.

“One day I was cooking in the kitchen, and I put too much coconut milk with the fish, and it turned out good! I was like, ‘Wow, this is like a coconut dream!’ because I had put so much coconut in it. So I named that dish, ‘The Coconut Dream Fish Dish.’”

Like a scientist in a lab or a musician with an instrument, a person with the right ingredients can make a lasting and impressionable meal. You don’t have to be a trained chef to create something special in the kitchen.

Ziggy Marley Meal Kits and Chef’d

As we came to the end of our conversation, Marley shared with us his plans to make a smoothie with fresh fruit—bananas, blueberries, papaya, and freshly squeezed orange juice.

“I love fruit. It’s good for the muscles. It’s good for the body,” he said.

We dreamt about that smoothie for a minute and then we thanked Ziggy Marley for his time. He took a breath, and with the earnestness and sincerity that can only come from a member of the Marley family, he said: One Love.

**Ziggy Marley recently released his 7th solo studio album 'Rebellion Rises' on his own Tuff Gong Worldwide label. Catch him on tour around the world this year.