Thoughts on Japanese Foods

Posted on by Denny Waxman

As part of the macrobiotic way of life, we have enjoyed a rich cultural, philosophical and spiritual heritage from Japan. This heritage has guided many aspects of our life from our approach to cooking and eating to our overall view of life. Some aspects of this way of life, from futons to tofu and miso soup, have become mainstream. Many of the ingredients we use such as miso, shoyu and umeboshi enable a moderate to good cook to produce outstanding meals.

We also have the challenge of developing a local practice of macrobiotics by reconnecting with our local foods and traditions. I think that many people within macrobiotics have been moving towards a more local practice over the years. At the same time, local food processing and seaweed harvesting have been increasing and great strides have been made in quality and taste. This is a natural progression that is necessary for us to grow and develop our capabilities more fully. It is also necessary if we want to align with the basic premise of macrobiotics that we are one with our environment.

In my experience, some of the foods produced in Japan still have a greater healing ability than the ones we produce here. I am confident that over time that will change. Many years ago, a long-time Japanese friend told me that America has already conquered Japan in terms of tofu. He thought that American made tofu was the best. What he said rang true for me. However, we can adjust the quality of tofu day by day. Miso, shoyu and umeboshi are a different story. It takes months or years to adjust them. The time it will take to perfect these products is much longer than for tofu. After all, these foods have been perfected over hundreds or even thousands of years in the Orient.

I find the contrast between the delicacy in taste and nourishing and strengthening qualities of many of the foods from Japan amazing. It is ironic that these same foods also give us the greatest protection from radiation and other environmental pollutants. These foods, including brown rice, Azuki beans, miso, umeboshi, seaweed and kukicha tea are truly unique and amazing in terms of taste, nourishment and health benefits.

I have always understood macrobiotics as a process of redefining and reinterpreting traditional practices to see if they are appropriate and beneficial for the future. This approach gives us the ability to take what is best from the past and develop it further for the present and future. It has been my long-time dream to preserve traditional food processing from both east and west. It would be wonderful to have some of these people in Japan, who have become masters of their craft, guide us in the production of these traditional foods on our own soil. I think that this collaboration and cooperation could lead to even more unique foods over time.

Because of a lack of accurate reporting from the media on both sides of the ocean, we do not really know the degree of pollution in our foods, land or water. I think it would be a big mistake to over-react and avoid foods coming from Japan completely. It is possible that we could be going from bad to worse by doing that. I have come to rely on certain people for high quality and safe foods in the same way that people rely on me to guide their health and that of their families. I am also trying to share this information openly so that we can all make informed choices.

I am not endorsing any one person or company. I am trying to keep an open mind and I will continue to study and research this situation. After regular conversations with my brother Howard Waxman of Essene,we have decided to continue to use both Japanese and local products. I have also been in contact with Michael Potter of Eden Foods. Please read the wonderful NY Times article about him and review the link to the Eden website for further information about Japanese food safety.

We know from this wonderful philosophy we have inherited that all challenges are opportunities. It is my hope that people with understanding and integrity will join together to maneuver through these difficult times. I firmly believe that an open and informed dialogue is the best approach to guide us into the future.

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics

Comments:

  1. MELODIE KITTON says;
    09 Feb 2014 - 12:20

    MY PARENTS HAVE BEEN ON A MACROBIOTIC DIET FOR AROUND 30 YEARS. I THINK THEY HAD A CONSULTATION WITH YOU IN MANHATTAN WHEN THEY FIRST STARTED THE DIET. I’M NOT SURE. MY MOM IS 91 AND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH ALZHEIMERS A FEW YEARS AGO. I WAS SHOCKED. HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED. COULD THE HIGH CARB MACROBIOTIC DIET CONTRIBUTED TO THE ALZHEIMERS. MY FATHER WHO IS 96 IS FINE.
    AFTER MUCH OF MY RESEARCH, I READ THAT A HIGH CARB DIET, EVEN THE HEALTHY CARB MAY NOT BE SO HEALTHY AFTER ALL. I’VE ALSO READ INTERESTING INFO ON USING COCONUT OIL & OTHER HEALTHY FATS TO FUEL THE BRAIN IN ADDTION TO ELIMINATING MOST CARBS EXCEPT FOR VEGETABLES. I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS. MY EMAIL IS MELODIEKITTON@AOL.COM

  2. Hi Melodie,

    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I have 40 years of experience with guiding people to health with macrobiotics. One thing I have noticed, in a few cases, is that some people continue to eat in the simple, restricted way that they started out with. Sometimes eating an overly-simple or restricted diet may eventually lead to nutritional deficiency that affects the bones or nervous system. I’ve always recommended that people adopt a more flexible and varied way of eating over time that suits their needs.

    I invite you to take a look at John McDougall’s most recent newsletter (http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2014nl/jan/140100.pdf) which discusses some of the mythology that surrounds the idea that high-carb diets are unhealthy. It is difficult to say what caused your mother’s Alzheimer’s, however I do not think it would be related to a high-carb diet. The use of sesame and olive oil in cooking are the most traditional oils in temperate climatic zones and aid in the absorption of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins that nourish the brain and nervous system.

    All of the world’s long-standing civilizations have relied on their elders for guidance. And all of the world’s long-standing civilizations had diets that revolved around the consumption and cultivation of grains and vegetables.

    I’m happy to hear that your father has been enjoying a long, healthy life.

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