Jane from London saw an advert saying;
"we have over 250 natural
macrobiotic products from Japan"
and she asked:
we need to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic diet ?|
people overdo on Japanese macrobiotic products ?
it profits before what people really need?|
Isn't macrobiotics about living from local foods and resources ?
Several people below have responded to these questions.
Kerr - Christina Cooks - Leila Bakkum
- Craig Sams - Carl Ferré - Hiroshi
Phiya Kushi - Jane Steinberg
- Joe Waxman - Angelo Macrocasa - Steven
Acuff - Paul Kern
- Jean Richardson - Gero Plath - Michael
Potter - Roberto Marrocchesi - Denny
What are your
we need to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic diet?
No, of course not. One ought to eat foods that are local and seasonal, but also
consider one's ancestry, condition, constitution and lifestyle. The more perishable
(or yin) the food, the more local and seasonal it should be. Ideally, fresh fruits
and vegetables would be local and seasonal. With modern transportation, people
can get anything, anywhere and any time. (But one may feel cold eating watermelon
and bananas in London in the winter.) More yang, staple foods like dried grains
and beans, which are inherently designed to survive from year to year for planting,
are suitable food around the globe, still considering climate.
climate grains would be the primary staple for people whose ancestors came from
a temperate climate. Some dried foods, like seaweed's, are suitable for most people,
most of the time. The ocean covers much of the Earth, and seaweed's are mostly
vitamins and minerals. Salt (yang mineral) is nearly universal and not seasonal.
We can enjoy Japanese foods because we are from a temperate climate and of temperate
ancestry. Personally, I enjoy many ethnic grains and beans of European origin.
They feel more familiar to me than Asian foods.
I dearly love Japanese
food, but even after nearly 30 years, it does not feel as "familiar."
I think the benefit of eating Japanese macrobiotic food is that we can learn alot
from traditional foods and diet. I appreciate the balance, presentation, and discipline.
In America, much tradition has been lost in the "melting pot." One can
also go to some other part of the world and live with indigenous people and eat
their traditional diet, to experience non-Japanese macrobiotics. All indigenous
people were "macro" before modern society intervened.
people overdo on macrobiotic Japanese products?
One can overdo anything!
Is it profits before what people really need? I don't know how this
question relates to the topic. If it means that Japanese macrobiotic food is too
expensive, then it might be wise to learn how to make your own miso, shoyu, umeboshi,
etc. I can't speak for any other than my own business, which provides Japanese
macrobiotic food. It involves a lot of hard work for very little profit. The cost
of importing food (especially since the American Bioterrorism laws went into effect)
is exorbitant. Foreign exchange rates and politics are also factors.
macrobiotics about living from local foods and resources ?
Grow and make your own, or at least try to know who grows and makes it for you.
I would like to see the global food economy scale back to small, local trading
Jean Richardson (Goldmine Natural Foods Co)
There is no need to use any oriental foods and the
macrobiotic diet of Hufeland was European. Zen macrobiotics includes Japanese
and Chinese foods but is not limited to them. Marco Polo introduced lots of Chinese
foods to Italy 800 years ago and it is fine to do this. We for sure do not have
to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic diet. They do make it
seem like they make the best quality food and we got to pay the high prices to
get it. They priced me out years ago. For some profits have gotten to be more
important than health of people and that is sad. You are thinking about what I
have wondered about for years and it is hard to get clear about the truth of the
matter. Maybe they should start calling that Japanese diet trip Shoku-yo and stop
calling it macrobiotics that would be more honest and historically accurate.
we should eat local & in season. The Japanese make some great health food
products and they have their value like Chinese Herbs. Charak Samhita says best
medicines came from the mountains. So for cures in extremes we can use special
herbs from far away places. On the other hand there is an element of greed that
has corrupted the promotion of some of these Japanese products that are called
macrobiotic. Also they tend to view salt as a cure all when in fact excess salt
Some of the Japanese products took hundreds of years to learn
how to manufacture it is an art and deserves more money if it is higher quality.
yes, Japanese products for health
not in my book. For me, but you have to
understand that, here in the states, I am considered to be on the fringe
for me, macrobiotics is simply whole, unprocessed, seasonal
foods cooked in balance with your lifestyle, climate and condition, locally produced
period! I think that the Japanese have given us much in the
way of understanding nature and how we fit into the picture
I also think
that some Japanese products are priceless to our health
but I think people
can surely overdo them
generally they are too salty for us in Europe and
profits play a large role, as you know, in marketing to people for
what they need. Peoples well-being and true appreciation of
nature and our impact on the planet are rarely the first priority in business
said, it is wonderful to at least be selling foods that can be healthy, as opposed
I hope this helps a bit
do not need to eat strictly Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic
diet. However, there are several products used in the macrobiotic diet that are
not available locally.
Everyone's body needs vary, and whether you can
"over-do" on macrobiotic Japanese products would depend in an individual's
As for profits before what people really need. . . . we
are a very small company with a VERY small profit margin. It is extremely expensive
to import goods from overseas, and we try to always offer the highest quality
items, and we always try to offer organic products when available. Everyone that
works at Great Eastern Sun is here because we believe in providing quality products
for consumers - we don't work here because we are being paid well!
one does associate eating the macrobiotic diet with eating locally grown products,
but again, there are several items that are not available from local resources.
There are foods that we provide that are grown in Japan because the terrain and
climate lend themselves to the best growing conditions of the product.
Bakkum (Great Eastern Sun)
I think a some of the problem stems from an originally poor or confused definition
of "macrobiotics." As I mentioned in some of my previous articles, "macrobiotics"
should not be used as an adjective to describe a diet, let alone food products.
It is simply the art and science (and daily practice) of longevity.
regards to Japanese food products versus locally grown (unless, obviously, you
live in or near Japan) the main factors involved here are far beyond the simple
question of going against philosophical principles:
1. The commercial
availability of high quality traditional foods
2. Globalization of the Food
3. Economic and Political Power Structures
These days in any
cosmopolitan area it is practically impossible to eat locally no matter what kind
of diet you follow. Indeed, most available food is part of a vast global economic
network that has developed tremendously in the last fifty years since world war
II and originally began since the early days of sea-faring colonization. Nowadays,
with instant communications and high speed delivery networks, and a global market
economy backed by powerful governments that ensure a world entrenched in the dependency
of international products; to worry about high quality Japanese food products
is ridiculous when compared to the whole global food economy. At this point, any
dollar spent in support of high quality traditional foods, no matter what country
they are from, is a support to preserve rapidly disappearing traditional practices.
This is similar to the fact that buying organic helps resurrect and maintain traditional
agricultural practices, not to mention being good for the environment.
worry too much though, traditional Japanese food products are also at the mercy
of globalization. When you buy hig quality traditional miso or shoyu from Japan
you are also supporting organic grain and soybean farmers in the USA, Canada and
Central and South America. What would you prefer the world do? Eat McDonald's
hamburgers from hormone and pesticide fed beef grown in Argentina together with
French fried potatoes from another part of the world or have traditional processed
products from Japan made from organic ingredients from the USA and other places?
I suggest people consider finding global solutions facing real people instead
of imaginary ones facing so-called imaginary "macrobiotic" people. There
is an appropriate quote from an old Japanese movie: Why worry about your beard
when your head is about to be cut off?
In other words, the problem is
not an either/or situation. It is a situation that calls for the uniform support
of all ancient and traditional practices while, at the same time, figuring out
how to globalize and feed the rest of the world with higher quality food products.
Thank goodness Japanese makers have been careful to preserve the artistry
and craftsmanship of many of their traditional practices for hundreds of years
up to now and your dollar helps to support them. If you have any doubts about
it then go to Japan and see for yourself; especially now since there is a big
threat to the very existence of these traditional Japanese practices from inferior,
less expensive but booming Chinese imports into Japan itself.
the quality of the food products themselves, the Japanese have mastered the art
of fermentation and the natural preservation of everything from grains, beans,
vegetables and so on, only to be rivaled by European wine and cheese makers. A
simple measure is, if you can travel with it without any refrigeration or other
artificial preservative and it still be edible when you get to your destination
(with mold and all), then it's good enough to eat. That applies to any food. Like
organics: if its good enough for the insects then its good enough for you. In
the end, however, what would be better and more efficient is to export the know-how
and expand and develop it further. This is a huge opportunity that people like
Georges Ohsawa saw and took advantage of and continues to be available today for
anyone else interested.
Globalization is a necessary move forward for
the planet and yet so is localization and the preservation of time-tested traditional
practices. The real question is how to do both with all of humanity winning in
the end. It is a question far more interesting and meaningful than trying to adhere
to some conceptual principles. And not coincidentally, by tackling the larger
problem you've already solved the smaller one. As Yoda would say: Do or do not.
There is no try. In other words: Do "MACRO"-biotics (think and live
big) or Do Not. There is no try. Be the principle instead of trying to live by
It is a self-destructive illusion to divide the world between an
"us" vs. "them" (and it is that particular way of thinking
that perpetuates the problems, small and large, which we continue to face - and
create - in the world today.) It is all "us." In case you haven't noticed,
the name of the biggest game in town is the survival and development of humanity.
Are you game?
I think there has been at least a partial misunderstanding.
We do promote the fact that we have 250 different macrobiotic quality foods, but
only 70 of them are imported from Japan. That's 28% of the 250.
Foods such as these that Eden offers:
Brown Rice Udon 100%
Kuzu Noodles, Mung Bean Pasta 100% Rice PastaSoba 100% Buckwheat Soba
Root Soba Mugwort Soba, Jinenjo Soba, Hot Pepper Sesame Oil,Toasted Sesame Oil
Brown Rice Vinegar, Ume Plum Vinegar Furikake Sesame Shake, Bonito Flakes Dried
Shredded Diakon Pickled Diakon Radish, Kuzu Root Starch, Lotus Root Slices,
Maitake Mushrooms Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms, Whole Shiitake Mushrooms, Pickled
Ginger Shiso Leaf powder,Tekka Umeboshi Plums
Umeboshi paste Wasabi powder,
Shoyu Soy Sauce 3 kinds, Tamari soy sauce, Mirin cooking wine
Genmai Miso, Hacho Miso, Mugi Miso, Shiro Miso, Natto Miso
Agar Agar bars Agar
Agar flakes, Arame, Hiziki, Kombu Nori, Sushi Nori, Wakame leaf,Wakame flakes
Bancha tea, Kukicha tea Genmaicha tea, Hojicha tea Lotus Root tea, Mu#16 tea,
Matcha powder, green tea
Mochi Rice Crackers Brown Rice Chips, Brown Rice Crackers
Sea Vegetable Chips
Nori Maki Crackers Vegetable Chips, Wasabi Chips Kombu
Balls, Bifa-15 bifodophilus supplement, Ume Plum Balls,Ume Plum Concentrate, Dandelion
Root Extract, Dentie Toothpaste
Dentie Tooth Powder.
Further unlock and
make available the wonderful nourishment and healing power of the vegetable kingdom.Many
of them are useful to those attempting to heal or recover from maladies / illness,
and they are delightful.
Supporting the artisans that produce these is
nurturing human evolution, health and happiness.
Yes, living on local foods
and resources is wise. Cultivating and supporting local resources has been the
backbone of our efforts here at Eden Foods for the past thirty-five years. Most
of what we offer people
is locally produced. In the cases of sea vegetables,
soy sauces, and misos the most local sources for these for us here in Michigan
of the type of quality that we seek is still Japan. In the case of the misos
soy sauces, we ship locally grown soybeans to Japan and then import them back
as finished goods. If this was possible locally we'd do it, but it's not at this
time. I look forward to the day that it is. Sea
Vegetables, at least some
of them, I see coming to us from Japan for the foreseeable future. The quality,
know how, and techniques for producing these will not be approximated in North
America in my life
We use these foods because they delight and
help us achieve our goals. Macrobiotics is not national. It is personal and spiritual.
The Japanese culture just so happens to have refined certain aspects of food preparation
beyond any other. It is important that some of this beauty be transplanted and
nurtured into our youthful culture in the U.S.A. The culture here is astonishingly
naive when it comes to food.
Michael Potter (Chairman and President of Eden
I am not sure what "profits before people" means.
Finely crafted foods, using the highest quality ingredients, passed down through
a family for centuries is hard to compare with a more mass produced product. In
the same way that personally cooked meals using these ingredients is going to
cost more than a restaurant meal. Many Western societies lost the traditional
methods due to wars and diasporas, something that Japan was sheltered from for
many years. Their family, yuuki and small businesses kept developing in a time
honored and labor intensive path. Many western companies are stepping up to create
excellent products: Clearspring and Kendall come to mind. In some cases these
Western products are very good...in many cases they are in the early stages of
developing a great food and it will take
more time. It is always best to use
local resources, but it is acceptable if the food come from the same climate zone,
looked at as a band that circles the globe.
Many of our chefs are creating
some fine recipes for the Western palate: Kramer, MCarthy, McAteer, Nelisson,
Porter and many more....but the highest quality ingredient really makes the difference
in a dish both from taste and an energetic feel. If it is a Japanese product like
Miso, Shoyu, Takuan, umeboshi or Hokkaido beans that will make the difference
in my dishes for me and my clients, then that is what i will use. These are the
seasonings, the flavors of my dishes...my vegetables, my grains, my beans are
from my countryor my temperate climate. I think it is a nice balance.
No, we do not have to eat Japanese foods to be macrobiotic. The basis
of macrobiotics is whole grains and vegetables. These can come completely from
The use of some Japanese products such as natural shoyu,
miso, umeboshi and others have very important uses in a macrobiotic diet. They
can only help someone regain and maintane their health if used accurately. Furthermore,
with such heavy pollution of every kind in our modern world, these Japanese products
may even be necessary to really keep our health. They have the greatest ability
to neutralize and discharge heavy toxins and radiation. Generally, we can not
have the strongest health without certain Japanese products. Why not use them?
Even though the prices may be higher than other foods, if we really know the
value, then it doesn't seem too expensive. I would rather give that money to a
food company than to a hospital. Are they too expensive? How much is your health
The Japanese have developed and refined these products for thousands
of years. We may even be able to improve on them if we make them in the West.
Japan has certainly improved on Western technology. Every part of the world has
something unique to offer the rest of the world. Why not use all of it?
can only gain. Thanks for asking. I have given this some thought, and will continue
to do so.
Do we need to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic diet?
think you do not need to adhere only to Japanese foods. Japanese traditional eating
habits had been meeting macrobiotics naturally. (Japanese usually implement a
macrobiotic diet without knowing it.)
For this reason, we think Japanese foods
have many advantages as macrobiotic diet. Please see: http://www.muso-intl.co.jp/ENGLISH/Macrobi/Macrobi1.html
We recommend to take traditional food styles but do not insist on Japanese foods.
In a hot country, India, people have been eating spicy foods like Curry (Ying)
to cool down the body.
It does make sense from a macrobiotic point of view.
But adhering only to Japanese foods there, does not meet a macrobiotic.
- Can people over-do on macrobiotic Japanese products?
is no good for anything. The balance of food is important but the style is not.
- Is it profits before what people really need?
Both are important.
We cannot meet needs without profits as business.
- Isn't macrobiotics
about living from local foods and resources ?
It is true that the ideals
for macrobiotic are "local production for local consumption".
world economy has been globalized and it is impossible to keep "local"
nowadays. Also, it is very difficult to find foods free from chemical additives
these days. In this situation, we think that providing good quality macrobiotic
food is our company mission.
We recommend to people to eat local foods
in season, especially fundamental foods like grains and vegetables. Our main export
products are Japanese traditional seasonings like Shoyu, Tamari and Miso which
are produced by Japanese tradition and climate. No one can produce the same product
in quality outside Japan. We think these seasonings cannot be a staple food but
can coexist with local fundamental foods. If people enjoy Miso soup more instead
of chicken broth soup, it would be more "macrobiotic".
Umemura (QC of MUSO Co., Ltd. Japan)
we don't have to eat Japanese food to be macrobiotic!!!! There are SOME Oriental
foods such as miso, seaweed, maybe ume plums that are definitely worth including
in one's diet but ,apart from that, I think that too much Japanese food would,
how can I say,tone down my cultural identity as an Italian and this, in my opinion
is NOT Macrobiotics!!!! Macrobiotics, from a dietary point of view, is the ability
to eat all what my environment is offering me using the principles of Yin and
Yang or, if you prefer,
the principles of expansion and contraction.
I think that often, even in our Community, profit comes before, needs.
Macrocasa from Italy
Do we need to eat Japanese foods in order
to be eating a macrobiotic diet?
Japanese sea vegetables are the best
well prepared, carefully washed and packed (think nori and hiziki particularly).
But I dont see any reason why European producers couldnt do as well.
With sea pollution increasing everywhere the primary concern should be the quality
of the seawater in which the vegetables are grown. Wasabi can be replaced with
horseradish. Shoyu and miso are good for umami flavours and the mellowing that
takes place during long fermentation's probably makes them better than quick and
dirty methods of getting glutamic acid, but its still pretty close to msg.
If youre deficient in intestinal flora, there are far more effective ways
of boosting the population. Whole grains and vegetables are the core, not eating
to much is the hardest thing for most people. Quantity is the issue people tend
to avoid by focusing on quality.
Can people overdo on macrobiotic Japanese
People can overdo anything. Each to his own. Its a
lot harder to overdo macrobiotic products than junk products such as burgers,
coke, ice cream, booze or nightshades like tomatoes or cigarettes.
macrobiotics about living from local foods and resources ?
its also about enjoying tea and cocoa and other foods that dont grow
in our region. We shouldnt really be living in Northern Europe, unless we
exist on seal blubber and rabbit meat, but the Gulf Stream has made it habitable
and here we are. The first Hokkaido pumpkins came from Massachusetts, via Commodore
Perry, to Yokohama and then to Hokkaido, then to Belgium, then to England. There
are all sorts of strong and self-interested health, social and economic reasons
to support a local economy but health should come first.
profits before what people really need?
When people can make profits
it indicates that there is demand. There are people making profits from processing
products like miso and seaweed in the UK. I find the implicit utilitarianism of
the question worrying we arent in Maos China now, perhaps we
should be, given current rates of overconsumption of resources, but lets
get it into perspective and not become obsessively frugal. The macrobiotic way
puts justice first and to worry that a few producers in Japan or importers in
Europe are making profits by supplying Japanese commodities is to focus on the
wrong issues. Apart from anything else, because Japanese products are commodities
nowadays, there is little profit to be had from them. Thats one reason I
stopped importing from Japan in the early 1980s there was more money and
less competition doing products that appealed to macrobiotics but werent
standard undifferentiated (and undifferentiatable) kuzu, shoyu, miso and nori.
Just for your interest - I stopped using umeboshi some time ago, just pick
a harvest of sloes every autumn and salt them. They are just as good as umeboshi,
perform exactly the same function, virtually indistinguishable in a kuzu or arrowroot
gel. The UK equivalent is wild service berries, which people used to pick whole
branches of in the autumn, then hang in the kitchen and people would eat when
they needed the sorbic acid, 'ratted' by hanging.
we need to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic diet?
don't think anyone would seriously answer yes. Japanese foods increase the variety
of possibilities with macrobiotic cooking, which many people appreciate. Some
Japanese foods like miso have long since been produced in the West. Is American
or European miso a Japanese food? I have made miso from common Swedish beans.
Some seaweeds are Japanese, others are Irish, French, American and Canadian.
I toured Japan and its organic food production many years ago, some of the producers
of these foods expressed to me their sincere gratitude to their Western macrobiotic
customers. They told me that before Western interest in their foods they kept
production going because it was a family tradition they were proud of. They said
that in the post-war era of Japan the Japanese people had lost interest in good
qualtiy and wanted food only as cheap as possible. One elderly man told me his
family and friends were the only consumers of his products for several years.
we overdo the Japanese products?
Yes, we can. We can also overdo the
avoidance of them.
Are profits more important than people?
of the producers of Japanese macrobiotic foods are small companies, even family
businesses. Obviously top quality costs more than mass produced and the strong
Japanese curency has not helped matters either. When I knew Mr. Kazama of the
Japanese distributor Mitoku in the 80s, he was running
that macrobiotic food
business more as a hobby, while his real income came from the other business he
Is macrobiotics about local products?
Yes, it is partly,
but it is also about free-thinking. The Japanese have adopted a lot more from
our food culture than we will ever take from theirs. I like several Japanese specialties
and would not consider dropping that enjoyment because of ideology. I used to
lecture in East Germany and Czechoslovakia under Communist rule. Those people
were forced by the situation to eat only locally grown foods. I admired their
dedication to continue without the delicious seasonings such as umeboshi and tamari.
very interesting and important questions, but honestly,
I feel unable to answer
What I can say is that Mitoku is exporting now for over 25 years
traditional Japanese products. A lot of them are made by small family-run companies
which would probably not exist anymore if macrobiotics all over the world did
not buy them. Often, the quality is exceptional and cannot be compared with similar
products manufactured in Europe or elsewhere. This is not only due to different
manufacturing methods but also because of the unique climate in Japan (hot, humid
summers and cold, dry winters).
I believe a company which is involved
in the business part of macrobiotics should not answer these questions. Maybe
a macrobiotic teacher or the Kushi Institute would be in a better position to
answer these questions.
Gero Plath (International Division-Mitoku
could be, the Japanese know they work with very high standards of quality. Unbeatable.
It sounds racist and it probably is, but quality-wise they have the best. We could
try to beat, but my guess is we better stick to make good Ferraris, fashion shoes,
wine & olive oil (we Italians, that is) and each country has unique features
or products that are unbeatable in their own field. I go nuts for English oatmeal
porridge, lager beer, and elegance.
It's not important, they may if they
wish, we already do with coffee, spices, drugs, tropical fruits, Chinese or Indian
products of all sorts. However, with Japanese foods. We have a cost problem, and
THAT is going to be the limiting factor.
Is it profits before what people
Yes, but so it is with just about everything in this
world. One can really do Macrobiotics simply and cheaply if he/she is ingenious
and yang enough, but are we so needy? ask our east Europe macro friends.
Marrocchesi (from Italy)
we need to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic diet?
Yet there is nothing else that is strong and effective as miso and umeboshi.
people overdo on macrobiotic Japanese products?
If by overdo
you mean use only Japanese items and think this makes it MB, the answer is YES.
But I don't consider having miso soup daily overdoing it. (Having to have FU,
TEKKA, and some of the hard to get stuff, is a bit much! - although I like these
products, I don't use them much - maybe 1-2 x per year)
it profits before what people really need?
I don't think
it is motivated by profits. With the Yen exchange rate, Japanese products are
just plain expensive (many years ago this was not the case). Perhaps it is more
the case of over zealous to use products that are (were) recommended by Japanese
teachers that we respect.
about living from local foods and resources ?
your questions reveal a basic understanding of macrobiotic and I feel you knew
the answers to all the questions before sending them in the first place. And,
having glanced at some of the responses already posted such as the one from Jean
Richardson, I believe you have some very valuable information on which to base
your current thinking. Still, I believe something is missing.
you had attended Ohsawas school and had asked him these questions, he would
have asked you to answer for yourself without copying from anyone else, including
his own writing. In other words, his goal was to teach people to learn to think
for themselves. If one made a mistake it could lead that person to greater understanding
and thus there was/is no wrong answer. He might say, try it for yourself
Looking at the questions themselves, the answer to the first
one may be different depending on each persons condition and purpose. One
following a macrobiotic diet for health reasons may find that she or he needs
foods of a certain quality that are only available from Japan, or any other country
for that matter, at one time or another.
One practicing macrobiotics to
raise his or her judgment may need Japanese foods at one time and
not at other times. The same could be said for those using a macrobiotic diet
for gaining happiness, for elevating consciousness, for overcoming fear, for finding
freedom, and/or for any other purpose. Thus, I believe determining ones
purpose is necessary in order to answer the question fully. Second, I recommend
listening to your intuitive voice.
Macrobiotics is about freedom, not enslavement.
Thus, I would caution against any one overdoing, or becoming too dependent, on
any food, Japanese or otherwise. Ohsawa said it plainly, quantity kills
quality. My personal interest is in seeing macrobiotics presented in a more
liberating and unlimited way. Lists of foods to eat and foods
to avoid are okay at the beginning but at some point each person needs to
graduate from such lists and to include as wide a variety of foods as her or his
condition and purposes allow.
What is your life worth? What is happiness
worth? No one that I know is getting rich teaching macrobiotics or selling Japanese
foods. If you really need the food for life or happiness I would suggest
being grateful that it is available and paying the price with great joy so that
others may benefit from such quality food.
The final question does raise
one of the basic principles of macrobiotics eating local foods. The magazine,
Macrobiotics Today, is presenting some of the core teachings of macrobiotics and
discussions about these teachings in each issue starting with the May/June 2005
issue. To paraphrase Herman Aihara, One is healthy and strong when living
on the products of ones nearby surroundings, ideally by growing ones
own food. This does not mean, however, that non-local foods are to be excluded
when needed or useful for ones purpose.
In closing, those who grow
local organic food deserve our support as do those who produce good-quality, special-use
foods from Japan or any other country. Consider Ohsawas description of eating
according to Supreme Judgment, eating anything one wants with great joy
and gratitude. I wish you well in your continued practice.
G O M F
hope you grow a big garden or at least have a co-op or natural food store to provide
fresh grains and vegetables of approximately the same latitude. Although you can
be macrobiotic, eat well and be healthy without any Japanese foods, some are highly
recommended, particularly seaweed and miso. Both of these are produced in countries
besides Japan, but the Japanese are the best. Seaweed found in every Chinese market
is typically of wretched quality. The best seaweeds, from Japanese companies like
Mitoku, are grown in clean waters and harvested at their peak, carefully, so you
get the best quality and no contaminants. Pricey? How much do you use? And it
swells greatly when soaked and cooked. Not only in the winter, when organic produce
may come from far away, be expensive and not so fresh, but also in summer, seaweed
adds a rich combination of easily assimilated minerals and nutrients to maintain
balance and vitality, and youre not eating bowls of it, just small amounts,
pennies per day. Whats good health worth? Look what you spend on
well, we wont get into that.
Miso Master (made in USA) makes
a good, every day, inexpensive, traditional unpasteurized barley miso, but the
miso from several of Japans families has been patiently, carefully crafted
by hand for centuries. Many pasteurized, commercial misos are used only for flavor
and they can render savory even the poorest cooks soup, but Im referring
only to traditional, high quality unpasteurized miso which makes not only good
soup but good health. Among other things, these misos chelate heavy metal ions
(thus aiding their excretion). These unpasteurized misos also establish a beneficial
culture of microorganisms in the intestines which greatly aids assimilation, synthesis
and is integral in the formation of healthy blood. I know of no other practical
source of these microorganisms. The effect of these misos on your health is dramatic,
not subtle, and certain Japanese ones are the best. Expensive? Again, how much
do you use? A tablespoon per day? For even the spendiest miso, thats less
than 50 cents per day for a dramatic improvement to your health.
every culture has foods and aspects worth considering. While at the Kushi Institute,
several cooks alternated in the planning and preparation of meals. Two of them
were Japanese, Myume (MY-OO-MAY) and Mariko. I could always tell when they cooked.
The food, although simple, was always more delicious and deeply satisfying. Profound!
Amazing! I still wonder how they did it, but Im sure it had something to
do with their Japanese cultural heritage. I dearly miss them.
is a Traditionally Based Diet by Denny Waxman
Macrobiotics is a traditionally
based diet, not a traditional one. It is based on the traditional diets of the
world's long standing cultures. Macrobiotics has its dietary roots in the Far
East, Middle East, India, Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and the United Kingdom.
We have combined the unique foods from each area along with the cooking styles
that are appropriate to where we live.
The traditional grains of the U.
K., barley, oats and wheat are regularly used in the standard macrobiotic diet.
Sourdough from Europe is also frequently included. Cous-cous from the Middle East
and North Africa, pasta from the Far East and Italy and corn from the Americas
are a few more examples.
We use azuki beans from Japan, lentils from Europe
and chickpeas from the Middle East. We also use sea vegetables that were traditionally
eaten in all coastal regions and island countries, not only in Japan. Historically,
regular pilgrimages were undertaken to gather sea vegetables and sea salt. Sea
vegetables are now harvested in many places around the world. We use sauerkraut
and other brine pickles from Europe and umeboshi plums and daikon radish pickles
from Japan-and the list goes on.
The modern macrobiotic diet seems more
Japanese because of the use of certain traditional Japanese products and cooking
styles that are used on a regular or occasional basis. These include unique soy
products such as miso, shoyu, tofu, sea vegetables, umeboshi plums and vinegar.
Do we need to eat Japanese foods in order to be eating a macrobiotic
No, we do not! Does it make sense to include them? Yes, it does.
They add a unique nutritional value that makes it easier to practice a vegan style
of macrobiotics, if we choose. These foods also have the ability to enhance the
flavor of our cooking. For example, hummus, from the Middle East is commonly eaten
as part of the American macrobiotic diet. Over the years, at various gatherings,
I have observed that hummus made with umeboshi paste or vinegar is often preferred
over the commercial variety. Hummus is more delicious when made with umeboshi,
even to someone not familiar with macrobiotic foods. I have seen barbecued corn
served with a dip made from umeboshi paste, rice syrup and shoyu devoured by people
who said they would never go near macrobiotic food.
Can people over-do
on Japanese macrobiotic products?
Anything can be overdone.
macrobiotics about living from local foods and resources?
yes. It is best to choose from the highest quality, locally produced foods available.
But remember that for the best health, we need to create a balance between the
highest quality foods and what is locally available. For example, if the ground
water in our locality is polluted, it is best to choose water from elsewhere but
as close to home as is feasible.
In the practice of macrobiotics, there
is an order to choosing foods. Country of origin is paramount. It is more important
than where a food can be grown or is processed. When we live in a temperate climatic
zone, it is best to choose daily foods that originate in the same or a similar
climatic zone. For example, although potatoes and tomatoes are grown in North
America, they originated in the Andes Mountains, in a tropical environment. Tropical
foods are used more selectively than temperate foods.
More perishable foods,
those foods with a high water content that lose their freshness quickly, such
as fruits and vegetables, are best grown or gathered as close to home as possible.
Foods that can be stored for longer periods of time, such as sea salt, sea vegetables,
well-aged pickles and fermented foods, grains and beans, can be chosen from further
away. When we require foods that originate further from home, we choose those
from east or west of where we are living, not from north or south where climatic
differences are more dramatic. If we live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is important
not to choose foods from the Southern Hemisphere. The magnetic charge which creates
the basic structure of food is opposite in both hemispheres.
Is it profits
before what people really need?
As far as I can see, all of the companies
selling commonly used macrobiotic food products are making high quality, simply
processed food widely available. In my opinion, health is the motivating factor
for these companies.