These are the inescapable questions for
anyone serious about practicing Macrobiotics effectively: "How do I know
whether I'm doing it right? How do I know a Macrobiotic person when I see one?
What are the unique characteristics of the authentic Macrobiotics?"
I began Macrobiotics a quarter century ago, in 1974, it was axiomatic that you
could go into a hall full of one hundred people, and if there was anyone else
Macrobiotic there, you would find yourself gravitate to that individual and
spot him or her in no time.
That's because Macrobiotics was practiced
with some discipline in those days, in accordance with George Ohsawa's
designation of this natural way of life as "a discipline of life."
by the late 70s, Macrobiotics was being transformed into something else, into a
so-called "naturally healthy gourmet" diet, in order to appeal to the decadent
tastes of Americans. Macrobiotics felt it could not sell itself any other way.
As Anne Marie Colbin shamelessly told one interviewer, about the "gourmet"
innovation she brought into Macrobiotics within a dozen years of George
Ohsawa's death in 1966: "This is what sells. This is what Americans
So Ann Marie transformed herself from a strikingly elegant macro
femme into a dowdy, frumpy matron; and within another ten years her "gourmet
revolution" had swept the country, from East to West. However, it really wasn't
bona fide Macrobiotics, although Ann Marie stole the Yin/Yang concept and the
Five Element Theory from Macrobiotic Oriental Medicine.
After that fatal
change in the concept of Macrobiotics, within another ten years, in the early
1990s, Macrobiotic leaders and practitioners of long standing began to bite the
dust from degenerative diseases--heart disease and cancer--precisely the
plagues that Macrobiotics had been invented to cure!
The question then
is inevitable: Can one be a self-indulgent gourmand and still reap the benefits
in optimum perfect health, with acquired immunity to both infectious and
degenerative diseases, that is the promise of Macrobiotics?
that prompts me to take up this old question is this: Yesterday, February 25,
200l, I was in the Bread & Circus Wholefoods Supermarket in Hadley,
Massachusetts, which was formerly owned by a Macrobiotic couple, and passing
the meat counter I saw Smoked Pork Hocks that had been frozen. Very
interesting, because "All Natural", no chemicals or preservatives, no nitrates
or nitrites. And it occurred to me that this was formerly a customary food of
the old Yankees in the cold New England winters here.
In fact, Pickled
Pigs Feet is still a standard item in the diet of the Polish farmers in Hadley
and roundabout. So I decided to buy one Smoked Hock, just over half a pound, @
$2.99 per pound. Of course the hock is mainly bone. But the meat and fat on it
are the most Yang (contracted, dense flesh), since this is the strong muscle
that sustains the animal's quite heavy weight.
So I cooked it in an iron
pot, with greens and root vegetables and onion, slowly on low heat, until the
steam permeated it thoroughly. Together with my brown rice and lentils, only a
couple morsels of the smoked meat satisfied my hunger completely, and infused
wonderful body heat into my bones.
I knew I should eat only a little of
this concentrated smoked meat, since it is so strong I didn't want to be
overpowered. It has given wonderful warmth and energy, and the question might
be put: "Are you still Macrobiotic while eating pork, no less?"
we return to my original question: "What are the scientific criteria for being
1. The body utilizes one's food
100% effectively, which means that the food is completely metabolized, broken
down and assimilated into one's bloodstream. This will show by several
2. The stools are well-formed, dark
brown color, with no food particles, no foul odor, and are buoyant, floating on
water. Physical buoyancy is the basis of spiritual buoyancy also, freedom from
depression, which comes from sinking energy, manifested in sinking stools.
3. The hair is strong and shiny, with an
elastic quality, because one's high quality food is being assimilated into the
4. Likewise, one's skin is smooth and
shiny, with a strong elastic quality. Thus the skin on one's elbows will not be
puckered, but will be smooth, even when the arm is almost
5. The nose will be well contracted on
the sides, concave, with nostril lines that are deep, and nostrils flaring,
indicating no accumulation of mucus in one's lungs and internal organs. One is
clean inside: this is internal hygiene.
course the eyes will be perfectly centered and strongly focused. There will be
no pouches or discoloring under the eyes. The cheeks will have a good shape,
oval on women, with a slight flat spot on men. I needn't protract this list
Now we should turn to the critical question: "What are the
indispensable factors that make possible this 100% effective complete
assimilation of our food, so that no unmetabolized waste matter is accumulating
anywhere in our body, giving us perfect internal hygiene?
of these factors should be known by ordinary commonsense, some are Macrobiotic
secrets known only to those who have practiced and studied this way of life
a. One must use only pure unrefined
sea salt or rock salt, which contains all the natural trace minerals, in order
to achieve a complete metabolism of one's protein and fat intake, including
b. One must be wearing all
natural organic clothing of sufficiently heavy weight to absorb the excess
moisture and dietary waste matter through one's skin. Transpiration precedes
and is a prerequisite for digestion. Without getting rid of our waste matter
through our skin, our biggest organ, our digestion will stagnate and our food
will putrefy in us, leaving toxic waste to vex our health and possibly cause
any of a multitude of problems.
especially in cold, damp weather (Yin), one should wear leather shoes with
leather soles, inside and out, so that our feet can get air and breath freely.
If you haven't discovered the important difference to your strength and energy
that is experienced with leather-bottomed shoes, try it. You'll be
d. The use of the Macrobiotic
condiments, gomasio, seaweeds, miso, shoyu, sauerkraut, and home-made
pickles--all these add to one's digestive power to metabolize one's food
completely, as is shown in our Daily Checkup by observing the condition of
e. Getting the requisite amount of
sunshine, activity, deep breathing, and well-ventilated sleep--all are
important. But we should not need to be pounding the pavement in jogging
shoes--not even to digest pork hocks completely. The secret is moderation in
diet, so that moderation in everything else will be sufficient. We will not
have to be engaged in a daily relentless struggle to maintain our health, if we
do not over-indulge.
f. Let me conclude this
brief list by stressing the importance of wearing wool, especially in winter.
Those who do not conserve their body heat with wool can never enjoy the vigor
of those of us who do. Wool has largely disappeared from winter garments in the
USA; and the health of the population has declined accordingly. So many
sicknesses and diseases could be prevented, and can be cured, by simply wearing
wool. Thus every day I thank heaven that I've had the commonsense to continue
to wear wool, when most of my contemporaries are wearing thin cottons or
synthetics, with their health suffering accordingly.
So then, to sum up,
when we eat Macrobiotically, we get the optimum energy from our food, and our
body is continuously cleansed by our food and clothing and footwear, instead of
being polluted by a careless, intranspirable way of life that does not permit
us to transpire, to discharge our dietary wastes as fast as they are
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