As with any movement, the macrobiotic community has had its share of controversies. Debate has raged on many aspects of food quality. What is the best quality and amount of salt to use in cooking? Should rice and other grains be soaked prior to cooking and if so for how long? Should herbs and spices, if any, be consumed in a cold, northern climate? Is it better to eat food grown isn’t organic?
Though most scientific and medical studies have found that the macrobiotic diet meets, and in many cases, exceeds current nutritional guidelines, the subject of Vitamin B-12 continues to spark controversy. Nutritionist T. Colin Campbell explains that B-12 originates naturally in the soil with microbes and is consumed in sufficient amounts by vegans who eat organic produce, especially that which is harvested and sold with some dirt clinging to the roots.
Cancer has also been a major topic of discussion. Despite many successful recoveries and studies showing that the macrobiotic approach can be effective, several teachers and counselors have come down with the disease, including the Kushis. Factors contributing to their illness (cervical and colon cancer respectively) included overwork, constant travel, irregular eating and eating out when abroad, lack of exercise, and taking on the energy and vibration of the many cancer patients with whom they worked. Both Aveline and Michio recovered from their initial diagnoses after a return to careful eating and lived for many more years (to age 78 and 88 respectively). Finding a balance among diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors is a constant challenge in today’s modern world.
As conventional medicine has recognized the benefits of macrobiotics over the last half century, so macrobiotics has developed a respect for the use of surgery, drugs, and invasive treatments if diet and lifestyle approaches are not working.
The trend toward integrative medicine, combining alternative and conventional therapies, is now widely supported in the macrobiotic community.
The Coming Era
“The macrobiotic revolution is the most peaceful and effective way to restore the earth,” as Michio Kushi observed. “Through it we are able to save ourselves and our families and friends from the vast current of degeneration sweeping the globe. We are even able to turn the general trend of modern civilization in a healthier, constructive direction. And, ultimately, we are able to enter the gateway of the new world, the Era of Humanity, with health and peace, justice and freedom, leading toward the unlimited happiness of all humanity for endless generations to come.”[i]
Education has been the main focus of the modern macrobiotic community. The Ohsawas, Kushis, Aiharas, and other pioneers all saw themselves foremost as educators, introducing macrobiotic principles and practices to the general public as well as training students to become teachers, counselors, and cooks. Over the years, there have been many schools, centers, and events, including the Ohsawa Foundation, East West Foundation, Nippon C.I., Vega Institute, Community Health Foundation, Kushi Institute, and Holistic Cruise at Sea. Today the international macrobiotic network consists of hundreds of centers, mostly local and regional. Summer camps or conferences have been a feature of the movement for over a half-century, with annual get togethers at camps, hotels, colleges, and other venues around the world. Increasingly, classes, webinars, and video presentations are offered online and there are many macrobiotic oriented groups on Facebook and other social media.
Classes in theory and practice have formed the foundation of macrobiotic education. Schools and institutes typically offer a combination of lectures and hands on training, including certification, in the following:
• Macrobiotic Philosophy Studies and training in cosmology, philosophy, and science (often known as Order of the Universe), including the spiral of life, yin and yang, the five transformations, the four elements, biological evolution, man and woman, cycles of history, mythology and religion, agriculture and energy, transformation of society, transmutation of
elements, the vibrational and spiritual world.
• Macrobiotic Health Care Studies and training in anatomy and physiology, the meridian and chakra system, origin and development of health and disease, classification of conditions by yin and yang and the five transformations, dietary guidelines and practice, macrobiotic nutrition, counselor training and practice
• Macrobiotic Diagnosis Studies and training in diagnosis and evaluation using sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and the other senses, as well as thoughts, emotions, dreams, visions, intuition, and other levels of consciousness; constitution and condition; Nine Star Ki and Oriental and Western Astrology, I Ching, and other metaphysical arts
• Macrobiotic Cooking Studies and training in daily cooking, seasonal cooking, gourmet and holiday cooking, travel food, medicinal cooking, restaurant cooking, catering, and other styles; home food production of miso, tofu, pickles, mochi, bread, and many other foods; menu planning; teacher and counselor training
• Macrobiotic Energy Healing Studies and training in shiatsu massage, do-in self-massage, stretching exercises, yoga, chanting, meditation, visualization, music and sound therapy, art and literature, and other disciplines
• Planetary Health Institute An educational organization in western Massachusetts founded and directed by Alex Jack, Edward Esko, Bettina Zumdick, and their associates, sponsoring the annual Macrobiotic Summer Conference and the Macrobiotic Wellness Retreat at Eastover, a holistic resort in Lenox, MA. Planetary Health, Inc., the parent nonprofit, also sponsors Amberwaves, a grassroots network to protect rice, wheat, and other grains from genetic engineering, climate change, and other challenges. Amberwaves Press publishes a quarterly journal and books and booklets. Contact: Box 487, Becket MA 01223, 413-623-0012. macrobioticwellnessretreat.com and macrobioticsummerconference.com.
• George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation founded by Herman and Cornelia Aihara and now directed by Carl Ferre publishes the bimonthly Macrobiotics Today and books. GOMF, PO Box 3998, Chico, CA 95927. Tel: 530-566-9765. www.ohsawamacrobiotics.com. Email: gomf@earth link.net
• Fortunate Blessings Foundation, nonprofit directed by William and Joan Spear, devoted to assisting children who have been traumatized from natural disasters, war, and torture. 409 Bantam Road, Suite A-3, Litchfield, CT 06759. (860) 567-8801. www.fortunateblessings.org.
• Holistic Holiday at Sea, an annual macrobiotic and holistic oriented cruise in the Caribbean founded by Sandy Pukel. 434 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134, 305-725-0081, www.atasteofhealth.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Kushi Institute of Europe. Co-founded and directed by Wieke Nelissen and Adelbert Nelissen (1949-2014). Weteringschans 65, 1017RX Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: 011 31 20 625 7513. Website: biotics.nl. Email: email@example.com
• Kushi Macrobiotic School of Japan in Tokyo founded and directed by Patricio Garcia de Parades. 3-14-16 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0066, Japan. Tel: +81-3-6326-6746. Website: www.kushischool.jp. Email: info@kushi- school.jp
• Kushi School of the U.K., founded and directed by Nicola and David McCarthy. Offering programs south of London in conjunction with the Kushi Institute of Europe. 112 South Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 4 LL, UK. Tel: 01444 628667, www.kushischool.uk. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Macrobiotics America, online institute founded and directed by David and Cynthia Briscoe from Oroville, California. 1735 Robinson St. #1874, Oroville, CA 95965, Tel: Tel: 530-521-0236. www.macroamerica.com. Email: email@example.com.
• Sha Wellness Clinic, a luxury spa on the Mediterranean Sea in Spain offering macrobiotic counseling, yoga, detox, and other personal services. 5 Verderol El Albir 03581 Alicante, Spain. +34 966 811 199. Website: shawellnessclinic.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Strengthening Health Institute, founded and directed by Denny and Susan Waxman, offering online instruction from Philadelphia. 1940 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148, Tel: (215) 238-9212. health.com.
Personal dietary and way of life sessions are offered by many macrobiotic teachers and counselors in person, by Skype, over the phone, or by written report. While each practitioner has a slightly different approach, they generally include a review of the person’s dietary and health history and background, visual diagnosis, specific dietary guidelines, way of life suggestions, and home remedies. Sessions take from about 1 to 1 ½ hours and cost from $200-$350. Modest follow up advice is included.
George Ohsawa healed himself after reading a book, and publishing has been an integral part of macrobiotics ever since. The Kushis and their associates composed several hundred books over the years, including basic texts on macrobiotic philosophy, health and healing, cooking, and shiatsu and do-in, as well as poetry, novels, art, literature, music, and other subjects. Principal publishers included the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, Japan Publications, St. Martin’s Press, One Peaceful World Press, Avery Publications, Square One Publications, Publicaciones Gea, and Amberwaves Press.
Hundreds of macrobiotic restaurants, diners, snack bars, and take out kitchens have made delicious, healthful food available and influenced society at many levels. Major macrobiotic oriented restaurants today include: Inaka, M Café, Shojin (Los Angeles), Seed Kitchen (Venice CA), Paul & Elizabeth’s (Northampton MA), Bizen (Great Barrington MA), Souen, Mana, Ozu, and Candle Cafe (NYC), Masao’s Kitchen (Boston metro), Deshima (Amsterdam), Macrobiotic Zen Restaurant (Barcelona), Usagi Botanica (Morioka, Japan), Chaya (Tokyo), Las Casas (Austin TX), Wholly Macro (Palm Springs FL), Shangri-La Vegan (Oakland), .
Macrobiotic Food Companies
Pioneer macrobiotic food companies included Erewhon Trading Company, which the Kushis started in the mid-1960s and today is a division of General Mills; Chico-San, which Herman and Cornelia Aihara and other macrobiotic friends in northern California started and was incorporated into Quaker Oats; Lima Foods in Belgium, later purchased by a big company; Manna Foods, founded by Adelbert and Wieke Nelissen in Amsterdam; Muso and Mitoko, major macrobiotic food manufacturers in Japan; Clearspring, headed by Chris Dawkins in the UK; and many others. Key companies today include:
• Eden Foods a leading macrobiotic food manufacturer and distributor in the United States founded and directed by Michael Potter. Many of its products are available through mail order. Website: www.edenfoods.com
• Gold Mine Natural Foods, a macrobiotic distributor in San Diego, CA, specializes in heirloom grains, beans, and seeds. Website: minenaturalfoods.com.
• Maine Coast Sea Vegetable Company is a macrobiotic food company in Maine that harvests alaria (wakame), laver (nori), kelp, and other sea vegetables from the Atlantic Ocean. Website: www.seaveg.com
• Maine Seaweed is a macrobiotic-oriented sea vegetable company run by Larch Hanson. Website: www.theseaweedman.com
• Natural Import Company, a macrobiotic distributor in Asheville, NC. Website: www.naturalimport.com
• Rhapsody is a macrobiotic food company in Vermont that makes organic tempeh, miso amazake, natto, rice milk, vegan egg rolls, and other products. Website: www.rhapsodynaturalfoods.com
• Si Sea Salt is harvested from Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Baja’s Southern California. Website: www.sisalt.com
• South River Miso, a macrobiotic company in western Massachusetts, makes a variety of misos, including barley, brown rice, dandelion and leek, azuki bean, chickpea and millet. Website www.southrivermiso.com
Books and Literature
* = Highly recommended
*Kushi, Aveline; Jack, Alex (1985). Aveline Kushi’s Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony, and Peace. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-38634-0.
Esko, Edward, and Wendy Esko (1981). Macrobiotic Cooking for Everyone. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870404696.
Esko, Wendy (1978). Aveline Kushi’s Introducing Macrobiotic Cooking. Japan Publications, revised 1988. ISBN 978-0870406904.
Ferré, Julia (2007). Basic Macrobiotic Cooking: 20th Anniversary Edition. George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation. ISBN 978-0918860590.
Jack, Alex; Jack, Gale (2000). Amber Waves of Grain: Traditional American Whole Foods Cooking & Contemporary Vegetarian, Vegan & Macrobiotic Cuisine. One Peaceful World Press. ISBN 1-88294-37-4.
Jack, Alex; Kato, Sachi (2017). The One Peaceful World Cookbook: Over 150 Vegan, Macrobiotic Recipes for Vibrant Health and Happiness, BenBella. ISBN 978-1944648244.
Kushi, Aveline, with Wendy Esko (1984). The Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook. Avery Publishing Group, revised 2003. ISBN 978-1583331644.
Lechasseur, Eric; Suzuki, Sanae (2007). Love Eric & Sanae: Seasonal Vegan Macrobiotic Cuisine. Mugen, LLC. ISBN 978-0977293711.
Miyaji, Masao and Evelyne (2014). The ABCs of Vegan Home Cooking. Blurb. ISBN 978-1320146449.
Nishimura, Mayumi (2012). Mayumi’s Kitchen. Kodansha. ISBN 978-1568364810.
Ohsawa, Lima (1984.). Macrobiotic Cuisine. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870406003.
Pirello, Christina (2007). Cooking the Whole Foods Way. HP Books. ISBN 978-1557885173
Tara-Watson, Marlene (2013). Macrobiotics for All Seasons. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1583945582.
Turner, Christina (2002). The Self-Healing Cookbook: Whole Foods to Balance Body, Mind, and Moods. Earthtones.
Zumdick, Bettina (2012). Authentic Foods. ISBN 9781478327639.
Diet, Health, and Healing
*Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (2010). The Cancer-Prevention Diet. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 978-0-312-56106-2.
*Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (2002). The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-43987-2.
*Kushi, Michio (2007). The Do-In Way: Gentle Exercises to Liberate the Body, Mind, and Spirit. Square One Publications. ISBN 978-0-7570-0268-7.
*Kushi, Michio (2007). Your Body Never Lies. Square One Publications. ISBN 978-0-7570-0267-0.
*Kushi, Michio; Van Cauwenberge, Marc, M.D. (2014). Macrobiotic Home Reme-
dies. Square One Publications. ISBN 978-0-7570-0269-4.
Aihara, Herman (1986). Acid & Alkaline. George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation.
Akizuki, Tatsuichiro, M.D. (1981). Nagasaki 1945: The First Full-Length Eyewitness Account of the Atomic Bomb Attack on Nagasaki. Quartet Books. ISBN 978-0704333826
Andrus, Erik; Elwell, Christian; Rooney, Ben (2017). The Rice Revolution: Growing Organic Rice in New England. Amberwaves Press. ISBN 9781544048772.
Brown, Simon (2007). Modern-Day Macrobiotics. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1556436437.
Dufty, William (1975). Sugar Blues. Warner Books, 1986. ISBN 978-0446343121
Kushi, Michio (1987). Crime & Diet: The Macrobiotic Approach. Japan Publications. ISBN 087040-667-1.
Kushi, Michio; Kushi, Aveline; Esko, Edward; Esko, Wendy. (1986). Macrobiotic Child Care and Family Health. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870406126.
Kushi, Michio; Kushi, Aveline; Esko, Edward; Esko, Wendy. (1984). Macrobiotic Pregnancy and Care of the Newborn. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870405310.
Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (1985). Diet for a Strong Heart. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-20998-3.
Kushi, Michio; Kushi, Aveline; Jack, Alex (1985). Macrobiotic Diet. Japan Publications, revised 1993. ISBN 978-0870408786.
Porter, Jessica (2011). The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics. Avery Publications, ISBN 978-1583332054.
Waxman, Denny and Susan (2015). The Complete Macrobiotic Diet. Pegasus Books. ISBN 978-1605986661.
Yamamoto, Shizuko; McCarthy, Patrick (1979). Barefoot Shiatsu. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0895298577.
* Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (2013). The Book of Macrobiotics. Square One Publications. ISBN 978-0-7570-0342-4.
Jack, Alex; Esko, Edward, editors (2015). Remembering Michio. Kushi Institute. ISBN 9781508852148.
Kotzsch, Ronald E. (1985). Macrobiotics: Yesterday and Today. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870406119.
*Kushi, Aveline; Jack, Alex (1988). Aveline: The Life and the Dream of the Woman Behind Macrobiotics Today. Japan Publications. ISBN 0-87040-693-0.
Mizuno Namboku (1807); translated by Kushi, Michio; Kushi, Aveline; Jack, Alex (1985). Food Governs Your Destiny. Japan Publications, 1992. ISBN 0-87040-788-0.
Tara, William(1985). Macrobiotics and Human Behavior. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870406027.
Philosophy and Science
*Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (2013). The Book of Macrobiotics. Square One Publications. ISBN 978-0-7570-0342-4.
Butler, Samuel (1870). Erewhon. New American Library, 1960.
Esko, Edward (2012). Yin Yang Primer. Amberwaves Press. ISBN 9781477645604.
Esko, Edward; Jack, Alex (2011). Cool Fusion: A Quantum Solution to Peak Minerals, Nuclear Waste, and Future Metals Shock. Amberwaves Press. ISBN 9781477563724.
Esko, Edward; Jack, Alex (2014). Corking the Nuclear Genie. Amberwaves Press. ISBN 9781493664740.
Ferré, Carl, ed. (2013). Essential Ohsawa: From Food to Health, Happiness to Freedom. George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation. ISBN 978-0918860576.
*Hufeland, Christolph W., M.D. (1796). Macrobiotics or the Art of Prolonging Life.
*I Ching or Book of Changes (1950). Translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes. Princeton University Press.
Kervran, Louis (1972). Biological Transmutations. George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, 2011 edition. ISBN 978-0918860651
*Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (1992). The Gospel of Peace: Jesus’s Teachings of Eternal Truth. Japan Publications. ISBN 0-87040-797-X.
*Ohsawa, George (1931). The Unique Principle: The Philosophy of Macrobiotics.
George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, 1973 edition. ISBN 978-0918860170.
Wang, Robin R. (2012). Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521165136.
*Amberwaves (2001- ), Becket, Massachusetts
*Macrobiotics Today (1984- ), Oroville, California
Das Grosse Leben, Germany
[i] Kushi and Jack, Book of Macrobiotics, p. 4.