Macrobiotic Leadership Program: Level I-IV Student Testimonial
María José Colás Martínez, April to July 2015
I first heard about Macrobiotics through my aunt. My aunt started to go to a Macrobiotic doctor in Spain. He studied macrobiotics with George Ohsawa (founder of Macrobiotics) and western medicine. He helped my aunt to stay in shape and have a successful pregnancy. She maintained her weight and had a lovely child.
In University, I studied chemical engineering. I started working in this field but always remembered the natural path that my aunt introduced me to. I worked for a cosmetics company, petrochemical company and also trading import and export from China and Spain. My job gave me the opportunity to live in China for two years. While in China, I became sick and couldn’t breathe very well. I went to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. This experience gave me great insight to more of what natural healing can do. After one week I was feeling perfectly fine.
Later on back in Spain, I was walking to my office one day and I felt that this was not the right job for me and realized I needed to change my life. I wasn’t happy and knew I should be. I always wanted to do something related with the natural health field, so I decided to open an organic shop. My shop, Purusha, has been running for almost a year now. While working with my customers I realized I had a lack of knowledge around food and nutrition. I made an appointment with the doctor that had treated my aunt a long time ago. I wanted to learn for myself more about his Macrobiotic education. In the short time of meeting with him, he amazed and inspired me. He made me think that this is what I want to do with my life. Right away I started doing a bit of research and I found out the Kushi Institute (KI) in Becket, MA is where to get first hand information on macrobiotics. I set my goal to go study at the KI. My plan is to help people to live a better and more complete life through diet and lifestyle by following Macrobiotic principles. Amazing! Here I am studying at the KI and will complete the Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Levels I through III, and two weeks of the Level IV program. I hope to become the best counselor, chef and teacher that I can possibly be when I get back to Valencia, Spain.
By Patricio Garcia de Paredes
I met Shizuko Yamamoto in the late 1970s in Spain. She had come to Barcelona to teach macrobiotics and shiatsu. My mother, Luisa Baranda, was one of the persons who organized her trip and she stayed at my house. In those days in Spain we still had not much contact with oriental culture and with people from Asia. So for her to stay in my house was both exiting and intriguing. Although I was just a kid at the time, her presence made a strong impression on me that I can still remember to this day. She was kind and considerate, yet strong and sharp. And in my view she embodied many of the qualities that I had created in my mind about what a person of wisdom and deep understanding of life from the far-east would be like. At the same time Shizuko was a very practical person and her unique down-to-earth style of teaching was very well received. She influenced many people’s lives and now in Spain and throughout Europe shiatsu has become very popular thanks to her pioneering work.
Among the most inspiring aspects about Shizuko was her own life story. She was a living example of how we can transform difficulties into possibilities and change suffering into happiness. Following World War II in Japan food was scarce and malnutrition widespread. To remedy the situation, the Allied occupation forces introduced milk and meat along with modern nutritional ideas about the importance of animal protein and calcium to develop strong, healthy bodies. It was believed at the time that the small size of the Japanese people was due to the nutritional inadequacy of the traditional Japanese diet, particularly lack of meat, milk and dairy products. Parents were encouraged to feed their children as much meat and milk as possible so that they would grow more big and strong. So while growing up Shizuko became an avid meat eater and she was even awarded as The Best Grown Child in her elementary school. However, that way of eating weakened her health and at the age of 21 she was diagnosed with leukemia. She also had vision and eye problems and went through 10 operations to correct her eyesight. She spent 3 years in and out of hospitals. After the hospital trauma, she stayed at home, almost hiding out from social activities for more than eight years. At one point she became determined to change her life and regain her health, so she began to look for alternatives.
While living with her parents in Tokyo, Shizuko was introduced to shiatsu (Japanese style of finger-pressure massage). There was an older woman, a shiatsu practitioner, who came to her home to give her parents shiatsu treatments. Originally she was not attracted to shiatsu and rejected the idea of other oriental healing arts. In those days in Japan people were educated to follow the western ways and shiatsu was looked upon as something backwards and unscientific. As a result many of the traditional cultural and healing arts were banned and just a few licensed practitioners were permitted to treat with shiatsu and only when they practiced within private homes. However, besides her eye problems, she also experienced pain on her neck and stiff shoulders, so she decided to receive shiatsu. And because it felt good and relived her pain, she began to study and practice various oriental ways of developing health and achieving well-being.
The first step began by reading a book on yoga and attending yoga classes which triggered other changes in her way of life. She also learned about macrobiotics and began to make dietary changes by centering her way of eating on brown rice, local vegetables, beans and bean products, sea vegetables and other plant foods and stopped eating meat and sugar. Every day she exercised a lot, went for walks and began to meditate. She would open the windows, let fresh air in and practice breathing exercises. Practically her whole life went through a whole transformation and within one month she already began feeling much better.
As time passed and her health recovered she felt drawn to begin helping other people. This sympathetic feeling towards helping others has been the foundation and driving force of what eventually would become her dream and life work. She first began to teach yoga and other corrective exercises at a training center. As she worked with people she realized that although the problems differed and the symptoms appeared to be different, they all shared the same origin. For example everyone followed unbalanced ways of eating and did not know how to move or breathe correctly. So everyone would get better by improving dietary habits and correcting breathing and movement exercises. This proved to her that if you make dietary changes and lifestyle adjustments you can get good results to strengthen and possibly recover health. For those students that would need extra help, she would she would give them shiatsu. She also started to try new techniques and began to use not just her hands and fingers to apply pressure but also her feet which later developed and evolved into a new style of barefoot shiatsu. In addition she also found out that yoga was very useful combined with shiatsu.
While helping people, she continued to study and integrate other natural and traditional healing and self-development arts including seitai (a system of guided self-corrective exercises), reiki (a form of palm healing), acupuncture, and aikido, many of which had been driven underground. Through her own experience and by integrating many different techniques and approaches, eventually she began to develop her own, original way of helping people. This included a well-balanced macrobiotic way of eating coupled with corrective exercises and shiatsu, which were to become the three main pillars of her unique approach to help individuals regain better health and alleviate their suffering. She then went on to develop a holistic beauty school where people could learn about macrobiotics, cooking, yoga and other corrective exercises, receive shiatsu and develop natural physical and mental beauty from within.
George and Lima Ohsawa
During those years, Shizuko had been studying macrobiotics with George and Lima Ohsawa, the founders and main proponents of modern macrobiotics. In 1965, after returning from a trip around the world, George Ohsawa called Shizuko and suggested to her to go to the United States to help spread macrobiotics in the west. At the beginning she hesitated because she had just started her holistic beauty school. But George continued to encourage her and after some consideration, she decided to take the challenge. She began to work on her visa with the help of Michio Kushi who was her sponsor in the United States and selling all her clothes and everything she owned to raise money. While Shizuko was making preparations of what would be an epic journey, in a curious twist of fate both her mother and her mentor George Ohsawa passed away. At Ohsawa’s funeral his friend Morihei Ueshiba, the creator of aikido as its known today, encouraged her in her journey to the West.
Arriving in America in 1966, Shizuko went to work initially as a private macrobiotic cook and guide to Hollywood movie star Gloria Swanson and her husband-to-be William Duffy. Swanson was the first actress to utilize her fame to campaign against crop spraying back in the 1920s. Both Swanson and Duffy were very influential promoting dietary changes in a more natural, healthy macrobiotic orientation. Duffy wrote Sugar Blues and Lady Sings the Blues, two controversial books that contributed to raise awareness about the harmfulness of sugar. Later she worked in a macrobiotic restaurant. While working at the restaurant some employees would complain about stiff neck and shoulders and she would work on them for a few minutes. Eventually by word of the mouth she began to make a living from giving shiatsu.
Little by little Shizuko was invited to give talks on Eastern traditional healing methods and demonstrate techniques. She also met with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who came to learn for years to learn about macrobiotics and also to receive treatments. Yoko and John introduced Shizuko to many influential people in New York, including John Cage, the dancer Merce Cunningham, actors Irma Paule and Mary Steenburg, Ted Danson and many senators. With a little help from her friends and clients along with some donations, she was able to establish the Macrobiotic Center of New York on a shoestring and was the president from 1970 to 1990. She would work seven days a week teaching, counseling and sometimes treating ten people a day. Since many Americans had large bodies with stiff muscles due to eating more meat and animal food, she began to use more her feet and elbows in addition to her hands. She would also teach at Michio and Aveline Kushi’s house in Boston and later at the Kushi Institute to many students.
(L to R) Shizuko Yamamoto, Aveline Kushi, Michio Kushi, William Duffy and Cecile Levin
Shizuko Yamamoto gave seminars and workshops throughout the United States, Europe, Cuba, and her native Japan. Her influential work has inspired countless individuals around the world. And she has personally counseled, treated and guided thousands of individuals towards better health and happiness, including many celebrities and influential people such as Dr. Benjamin Spock. She is recognized as one of the pioneer shiatsu teachers in the West and leading shiatsu practitioners in the world. She was the creator of Barefoot Shiatsu and Macrobiotic Shiatsu styles. To further world-wide communication in the natural healing field, she initiated the International Macrobiotic Shiatsu Society. She has authored several books including Barefoot Shiatsu, The Shiatsu Handbook, 20-Minute Shiatsu, and Whole Health Shiatsu. Her books have been translated into seven languages. In Shizuko’s words she concludes simply by saying that: “The essence of shiatsu is love, which is infinitely available.”
She was also an accomplished macrobiotic cooking instructor and has lectured and written widely on the importance of a natural, balanced way of eating for personal as well as for family health. Commenting on macrobiotics, she mentioned that “As long as you are determined to change your life, the practice of macrobiotics itself is easy and fun.”
Shizuko Yamamoto taught that to fundamentally change for the better we must learn from nature and develop a way of life in harmony with nature. She often would say that “We are one with nature,” based on the oriental concept of “shin-do-fuji.” Throughout her life she promoted organic foods and sustainable farming. She also realized through her own experience that in order to create a better world we need to begin by changing ourselves from within. By improving our health and looking at life in a positive way. This then would influence our family and reverberate in society. Now shiatsu and macrobiotics continues to grow and is sought after by many people around the world. Shizuko continued to teach, guide people and spread her message until late in her eighties even after losing most of her vision. She will be remembered by many as an outstanding teacher and a compassionate person who tirelessly dedicated her life toward helping other fellow human beings. May her life work be a source of inspiration to us all and her dream continue to influence humanity for many generations to come.
Patricio Garcia de Paredes
Patricio was introduced to macrobiotics at the age of five by his mother, Luisa Baranda, in his native Spain. After completing studies at the Kushi Institute, he began to give cooking classes and teach in Southeast Asia, South America, and Spain. In 1998 he moved to Japan and was executive chef at Kushi Garden and Chaya Macrobiotic Restaurant. Besides developing macrobiotic restaurants, he also maintained educational activities including giving cooking classes, presenting lectures, and publishing macrobiotic cookbooks. Presently he is the Education Director at the Kushi Institute of Japan. He currently resides in Japan with his wife, four daughters and one son.
We were so thrilled to have Christina and Robert Pirello join us at the Kushi Institute this Spring. Christina was a wonderful faculty addition to our Macrobiotic Leadership Program (we are looking forward to having her as guest faculty for a few days in September for Level 1). She also kicked off our 1st Saturday Seasonal Cooking with some very delicious recipes!
Christina Pirello’s Italian Nut Cookies with Chocolate Glaze
Makes about 24 cookies
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup semolina flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick Earth Balance baking sticks
½ cup brown rice syrup
3 tablespoons coconut sugar granules
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
¼ cup unsweetened almond or oat milk
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 cup non-dairy, dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350o and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Whisk together flour, semolina, cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder and soda. Whip Earth Balance, syrup, coconut sugar and vanilla. Fold into flour mixture to form a soft, formable dough. Fold in nuts. Using moist hands, form dough into 1-inch spheres and arrange on baking sheet.
Bake until cookies are just firm, but still slightly soft, 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the glaze by placing almond milk and rice syrup in a small saucepan and bringing to a high boil. Pour over chocolate and whisk to form a smooth, satin-like glaze.
Slip a piece of parchment paper under the rack of cookies. Spoon glaze over each one, letting the glaze run over the sides. Allow to stand, undisturbed, until glaze begins to set. Transfer to a serving platter.
Cook’s Tip: These cookies will keep, in a sealed container for several days.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2011. I was struggling, feeling very fatigued. I had insomnia for many months and then became depressed. My body was sore 24/7 and I usually woke up tired, experiencing a lot of headaches and anxiety during the night. Many people told me to start working out, but I already had a very active lifestyle. I went through 4 different anti-depressant treatments. I also took Xanax and Lyrica for the pain, but it didn’t help me. Experiencing Fibromyalgia caused me to stay in bed for about 4 to 6 months. This affected all of my relationships. At one point, I felt that cancer would be better than Fibromyalgia.
Two years after being on this medicine, I talked with one of my best friends, Salvatore Luccherino. At the time he had a Macrobiotic B&B in Portugal and currently is selling organic tempeh (http://www.salstempeh.com). Salvatore started talking to me about how the Macrobiotic diet could help with Fibromyalgia. I felt so inspired after talking with him that I booked a ticket to Portugal to learn from him in person. I stayed with Salvatore for 2 weeks while he cooked for me and showed me how to start eating a Macrobiotic diet.
While I was in Portugal, I had a macrobiotic consultation with Francisco Varatojo who owns a Macrobiotic center in Portugal, (http://www.institutomacrobiotico.com). Francisco saw that my consumption of animal products was very high and recommended that I adjust my diet. After only 2 weeks of eating a macrobiotic diet, my body started to react in a positive way. My energy returned. I finally started smiling again and felt like I was my healthy self again. I was happy, living without pain and sleeping perfectly. After 4 months, I stopped taking all of my medicine for Fibromyalgia . It has now been 2 ½ years since practicing Macrobiotics and after seeing all of the positive changes in my body, I decided to open a wellness center. I now help people and plan to continue to spread the incredible benefits of Macrobiotics.
I attended the Healthy Weight Loss Program in March 2014 to get introduced to the Kushi Institute. I have come back to take the Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Level 1. I will be graduating next Friday from the program and will return to finish Level 2, 3 and 4 to further develop my skills. My goal and dream is to open up a healing center in Miami, Florida.
I believe everything happens for a reason, I wasn’t expecting to be ill, but I know from my recovery experience that I can help others with Fibromyalgia and other conditions from all that I’ve learned.
Please feel to contact me directly to learn more about my story at email@example.com.
Attended the Following Kushi Institute Programs:
Healthy Weight Loss 3/30/2014
Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Level 1 3/29 – 4/25, 2015
Macrobiotic Leadership Program
Spotlight: Gwen Burton, Current Level 3 Student
Gwen Burton is a champion of home-cooking, healthy food, and eco-friendly living. As the creator and publisher of Brown Rice Magazine, she has worked to make macrobiotic and plant-based cuisine appealing, relevant, and fun for the modern urban dweller. Gwen embodies and lives the values that she shares with her readers: synchronicity with the natural world, practicing devotion and concentration at every opportunity, and finding humor and beauty in all aspects of life. She draws on her five years of macrobiotic practice, as well as her education from the Kushi Institute and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in order to help clients feel their best, realize their dreams, and maximize their potential to see them through. Gwen tutors individuals to hone their healthy home cooking, coaches clients to achieve wellness and peace in all aspects of life, performs private chef services, and regularly offers group workshops on fermentation throughout NYC. www.gwenburton.com
Click here to check out Gwen Burton’s Harvest Romance Yoga Pose Tutorial and begin harvesting some love in your life!
Click the link for Michio’s One Peaceful World Prayer: MK prayer
Bringing It Home: Kushi Institute Summer Conference By Alex Jack
Photos by Sachi Kato
The 2014 Macrobiotic Summer Conference exceeded everyone’s expectations. For the first time we held it on our spacious 600-acre campus here in the beautiful Berkshires. Over the course of two weeks in August, over 200 guests ate delicious daily meals (featuring vegan and gluten-free options) under a big tent and attended lectures by Michio Kushi and macrobiotic teachers, cooks, and practitioners from around the world. Gourmet chefs Eric Lechasseur and Sanae Suzuki prepared a special Gala fundraising dinner on August 15, and people danced and celebrated under the stars. Participants also enjoyed the outstanding cultural attractions of the Berkshires, including the Tanglewood Music Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Lunchtime in the tent.
The annual Aveline Kushi Awards were presented at the Summer Conference. The Aveline Award Ceremony took place at the lovely Aveline Memorial Peace Park located at the K.I. campus. Each year, the Aveline Award is presented for excellence in macrobiotic education, innovation, and service. This year’s awardees included macrobiotic senior teacher and artist Rod House (who turned eighty this year), new energy pioneers Woody and Florence Johnson, and the founder of Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Richard Bourdon.
A Macrobiotic Summer Tradition
The Macrobiotic Summer Conference has a long and storied history. In the U.S. summer conferences and camps go back to the introduction of macrobiotic education. Descended from the “New Horizon” macrobiotic summer camps held on Long Island and in the Catskills of upstate New York, the modern summer conference began in 1975 with the Amherst Summer Program held at Amherst College in Amherst Massachusetts. The first macrobiotic summer camps in the United States took place in the early ‘60s and featured lectures and classes with George and Lima Ohsawa. From that beginning, Herman and Cornellia Aihara continued the summer camp tradition in California at French Meadows from the 1970s onward, while on the East Coast, Michio and Aveline Kushi began the annual summer program at Amherst. Herman and Cornellia organized their annual summer camps as GOMF events, while the Amherst Summer Program was administered through the non-profit East West Foundation.
The Amherst Summer Program (referred to in the macrobiotic community simply as “Amherst”) showcased the world’s leading senior macrobiotic teachers, including Michio and Aveline, Lima Ohsawa, Herman and Cornellia, Shizuko Yamamoto, and Hideo Ohmori, as well as the next generation including Lino Stanchich, Rod House, Cecil Levin, Murray Snyder, Evan Root, Bill Tara, Ron Kotsch, Marc Van Cauwenberghe, Jack Garvey, Denny Waxman, Bob Carr, Michael Rossoff, David and Cynthia Briscoe, Edward Esko, Wendy Esko, Diana Avoli, Adelbert and Weike Nelissen, Bill Spear, John Mann, and many others. Special guests and celebrities, including Bill Dufty and Gloria Swanson, also participated.
Aside from the world-class educational program and lovely campus at Amherst College, the Amherst Program featured gourmet macrobiotic meals prepared by the staff of the Seventh Inn macrobiotic restaurant in Boston under the guidance of master chef, Hiroshi Hayashi. Hundreds of people from around the world attended the Amherst Program and considered it to be the high point of their yearly schedule.
In the 1980s, the Amherst Program evolved into the annual Kushi Institute Summer Conference. The K.I. Conference adopted most of the features of the Amherst Program and expanded the roster of teachers even further. Over the years, the Summer Conference was held at a variety of venues in the New England and New York area, including Simon’s Rock College, Chimney Corners Camp, the University of Massachusetts, Westfield State University, and Babson College, all in Massachusetts, Bryant College in Rhode Island, Green Mountain College in Vermont, and more recently, the IBM Conference Center in New York and the Dolce Conference Center in New Jersey. For over three decades, thousands of people have participated in the Kushi Institute Macrobiotic Summer Conference, with teachers and attendees coming from around the world.
Exercise with Lino Stanchich.
The 2014 Conference was special in that it was the first time the Conference was held at the K.I. In order to accommodate guests, the Institute rented a spacious canopied tent. Participants stayed in the cozy Main House and North Hall dormitory. Off-campus accommodation was made available at area motels. Regular shuttle service aided participants with their transportation needs. Marisa Marinelli, a student of macrobiotics and event coordinator for the New York City Ballet, coordinated the 2014 Conference.
Lectures and cooking classes took place throughout the day, held in the K.I. Main House living room and kitchen and the North Hall library and chapel. The tent was reserved for meals, Michio Kushi lectures, and evening keynote presentations, as well as for the Gala dinner. In addition to K.I. Resident Faculty, Guest Faculty came in from all over the country and taught intensively for several days straight. Jane and Lino Stanchich came from North Carolina to teach, David and Cynthia Briscoe, Nadine Barner, and Larry Kushi came from California, Denny and Susan Waxman, Janet Lacey, and Robert and Christina Pirello came from Pennsylvania, Ginny Harper came from Tennessee, David Sergel came from Connecticut, Verne Varona and Susan Krieger came from New York, Gabrielle Kushi came from Minnesota, Dr. Henry Edward Altenberg came from Maine, and Larry and Judy Mackenny came from Florida. Phiya Kushi came from Alaska, as did many of the cooking staff. Michael Potter drove from Michigan to the Conference on his motorcycle!
Cooking in the Main House with Christina Pirello.
A number of next generation K.I. guest teachers, including Angelica Kushi, Anthony Dissen, Carol Wasserman, Christine Waltermeyer, Marisa Marinelli, Flor Marques, and Daniel Esko, also gave classes. Patricio Garcia Parades, Director of Education at the Kushi Institute in Japan, journeyed from Tokyo via the Macrobiotic Summer Conference in Holland to present a series of international cooking workshops.
As a special feature, the K.I. held a “SuperLevel” course during the Conference. In addition to their regular leadership-training curriculum, participants in the K.I. Level 1 Program had the opportunity to attend Summer Conference events including evening keynote presentations by guest teachers together with Michio’s lectures.
Delicious, macrobiotic meals served 3 times daily.
The response was uniformly positive and enthusiastic. The hardworking K.I. staff and resident and visiting teachers did an excellent job. We thank them and thank our sponsors, donors, and participants. Bob and Christina Pirello told us, “Don’t ever go back (to hotels and corporate conference centers.) Keep the Conference here at the K.I.!” Jane and Lino commented, “The 2014 Kushi Institute Summer Conference was like being in Macrobiotic Heaven! Delicious, balanced macrobiotic food was skillfully prepared and served in an airy tent where friends gathered with music, conversations, and laughter.” Gabrielle Kushi had this to say, “The 2014 Macrobiotic Summer Conference was like a breath of fresh air. The new venue provided chefs, teachers, volunteers, and students alike a chance to support each other on a totally new level, thus providing immense individual and community growth.” David and Cynthia Briscoe summed up the positive consensus by remarking, “What a refreshing experience! It was wonderful to have the grass beneath our feet; trees all around, fresh air, and to feel so relaxed on the KI grounds. It quickly became a family gathering, with plenty of time to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. The food, prepared by the passionate and creative K.I. chefs, was delicious.”
Cynthia and David Briscoe.
Summer Conference 2015
From July 26 to August 9, 2015, the Macrobiotic Summer Conference will meet once again on the beautiful K.I. campus. We invite you to join us. We are now accepting registrations for this event. Participants can take either SuperLevel 1 and receive credit for our flagship Leadership Program featuring teacher, counselor, and chef training, or attend the Public Program with a plant-based smorgasbord of exciting lectures, cooking classes, and exercise workshops. You can enroll for 1-week or 2-week stays, weekends, or for the day.
Please register early to reserve your room, as campus housing is very limited and will sell out soon. K.I. shuttles will transport people staying off campus to selected Berkshire area motels. Call our registration office to register or for a list of participating motels and the special discounts they offer our participants. For more information call 413-623-5741 x102 and talk to Marisa Marinelli.
Alex Jack is the Executive Director of the Kushi Institute. He is the author of numerous books on macrobiotics, including, with Michio Kushi, The Cancer Prevention Diet, One Peaceful World, and The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health. The above article was published in Macrobiotics Today.
Brown Rice Magazine Interview with K.I. Senior Faculty Edward Esko
By Gwen Burton
Brown Rice: When I think about the way that healthy eating has been adopted in our culture over the past few decades, I am struck by how macrobiotics seems to have been such a major player. I can see how it might be encouraging that healthy food options are proliferating and easily accessible, but also frustrating because people seem to believe they don’t have time to cook for themselves and many of these healthy food options employ the “fast food” model. What has it been like to participate in and witness the change in eating in the US over the decades? What is your opinion on where we are today?
EE: Many of the things macrobiotic teachers advocated in the 1960s and 1970s have now become mainstream. Let’s look at several core principles, starting with the concept of “fresh, local, and organic.” I first heard the idea of eating locally in Michio Kushi’s early lectures. Fresh, local, and seasonal foods were touted as the way to achieve sustainability, both in terms of personal health and our relationship to the environment. We went out of our way to support local organic growers and suppliers. We gave classes and published books such as “The Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook” that explained how to cook with the seasons.
Now, four star restaurants in Manhattan feature fresh, local, and organic produce. Seasonal cooking and shopping at farmer’s markets has become fashionable. Macrobiotics was way ahead of the curve on that.
Let’s take another core principle, the superiority of plant-based diets. When I first read George Ohsawa’s comment that the human body is perfectly equipped to process plant foods directly, without hiring middlemen such as cows or pigs, it made perfect sense. Also that a whole-grain- and vegetable-based diet has many advantages over an animal-based diet. A light bulb also went off when Ohsawa stated that cow’s milk was perfect food, for baby cows! I had been a big milk-drinker up to that time but hearing such common sense was a revelation. As with the other core macrobiotic principles, the notion that plant-based diets are superior has gained traction with leading-edge thinkers in nutrition and public health, including T. Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, M.D., Dean Ornish, M.D., and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Another core principle that has become obvious today is the idea that whole foods are superior to refined and process foods. The term “whole foods” was actually invented by Michio’s inner circle in Cambridge around 1965. Now it has become part of the culture. Several years ago, the Harvard School of Public Health announced it would start promoting brown rice in place of white rice to stem the rise of diabetes in China. Brown rice is a whole food, white rice is a highly processed food.
Brown Rice: To what extent did the idea of “non-credo” shape the early macrobiotic movement, and do you think that this notion has been forgotten or passed over in the current era of health coaching and commercialized regimens? What is the role of non-credo in developing judgment?
EE: “Non-credo,” or “do not believe,” has always been at the center of macrobiotic philosophy. It always will. The only way to real self-knowledge is through your own practice and discovery. Macrobiotics is about freedom, pure and simple, not following someone else’s ideas.
Brown Rice: I’m curious about the tendencies of the long-term macrobiotic practitioner. Is it natural, in your experience, to want to self-experiment after having achieved a certain degree of mastery in the kitchen and with one’s own condition? It occurs to me that this tendency could either be a way of continuing one’s education in a way that could benefit others in the future, or might possibly be a manifestation of arrogance.
EE: The bottom line is that there is nothing other than self-experiment. It’s the nature of reality and not at all arrogance.
Brown Rice: What are your opinions on veganism? Macrobiotic diets include a small amount of white meat fish and some other seafood, but currently, attaining good-quality seafood is almost impossible. Now that I am vegan, I wonder about the ethical implications of causing the suffering and death of other beings, and I wonder why this might be acceptable according to macrobiotic philosophy, which otherwise seems concerned with facilitating peace on the entire planet through diet.
EE: Eating grains and vegetables means they have to die so that you live. The question is which types of foods make that sacrifice willingly and which resist. It seems to me animals are quite resistant to being killed and eaten as food for humans. Grains and vegetables seem quite willing to become human food. Similarly, billions of microscopic bacteria sacrifice themselves every time you enjoy miso soup, natto, or sauerkraut.
The Chinese character for peace, “Wa,” is made up of images for “cereal grain” and “mouth.” They apparently understood that eating grains and vegetables led to a peaceful mentality.
Brown Rice: There is an exciting project to grow rice in the Berkshires. Have these efforts been successful? I recently heard a rumor that at one point in time, macrobiotic founder George Ohsawa only ate rice immediately after it had been harvested. What does fresh rice taste like? Do you notice a big difference in taste and energy?
EE: Fresh harvest rice is for ceremonial purposes only, not for daily consumption. I’m sure Ohsawa enjoyed it on special occasions. We had the pleasure to enjoy freshly harvested rice from South River Miso on special occasions as well, such as Kushi Institute graduation ceremonies, my 60th birthday celebration, and others.
Check www.VermontRice.com for updates on rice growing in New England. Also look at www.SouthRiverMiso.com for rice growing and local production of miso in Western Mass.
Brown Rice: What is your diet like now? What kinds of foods are you attracted to after decades of macrobiotic practice?
EE: Onigiri (nori rice balls), soba (buckwheat noodles) in broth, natto (fermented soybean) rolls and melt-in-your-mouth salmon sashimi at Bizen, the Japanese macrobiotic restaurant in Great Barrington, Mass., vegan hummus sandwiches at Guido’s in Pittsfield, where I live, and water-sauteed green vegetables with brown rice vinegar or lemon.
Brown Rice: The Kushi Institute operates in MA. Are there any opportunities for NYC residents to learn more about the diet and the practice?
EE: My lectures in NYC offer an opportunity to experience Kushi Macrobiotic Education. Also, we would like to offer more extensive programs, such as Kushi Instititute (KI) Level One Certificate Programs in NYC beginning in the fall of 2014. Also, the Berkshires, where the KI is located, are not far from NYC. Just drive north up the lovely Taconic Parkway or the NY Throughway. We have a very special Summer Conference coming up in August that should be of interest to New Yorkers. Michio Kushi and more than twenty leading macrobiotic teachers will be presenting. The Conference will include vegan macrobiotic meals plus cultural events including the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the South River Miso rice field, and others. Go to KushiInstitute.org for ongoing updates.
The above interview was conducted by Gwen Burton and published in Brown Rice Magazine. Contact www.BrownRiceMagazine.com.
We would like to honor Michio Kushi, macrobiotic educator, natural food pioneer and founder of Kushi Institute. Michio passed away peacefully on December 28, surrounded by his loving wife Midori and sons Norio, Haruo, Phiya, and Hisao. He was 88 years old. On behalf of the students, staff, and faculty of the Kushi Institute, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Kushi family.
Michio was actively involved in K.I. planning and development until just prior to his passing. His vision for the institute was to teach, guide, and inspire individuals towards greater personal freedom, health, and happiness. The Kushi Institute plans to assure his teachings and mission will continue.
Click for a more complete list of Michio Kushi’s achievements
As a result of the hard work and dedication of the K.I. staff, the support of our students and participants, and the generosity of our donors, the Institute ended 2014 on a very positive note. We have been successful in reaching the Institute’s goal of establishing the first Annual Fund and have raised sufficient funds contributing to general operating expenses. The work of K.I. counselors and teachers helped contribute to numerous success stories for individuals and families in their quest for better health and well being.
The Institute’s core programs, the Macrobiotic Leadership Training Program and the Way to Health Program were well attended in 2014. The annual Kushi Institute Summer Conference, held for the first time in Becket MA, was a resounding success, and continues to bring in excitement as we plan for the upcoming 2015 event, July 26 thru August 9. The K.I. also launched several exciting new programs designed to help those with specific conditions, including The Macrobiotic Approach to Psoriasis, Controlling Crohn’s and Colitis thru Diet, and The Natural Approach to Breast Cancer. We are now planning to introduce a variety of new workshops and seminars in 2015 to continue in this work.
The K.I. also has ambitious plans for 2015 and beyond. In our last message, we introduced the Macrobiotic Breast Cancer Study. The Kushi Institute is now in discussion with medical researchers at Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University Medical School to begin the first ever randomized clinical trial on the effects of the macrobiotic diet on advanced cancer of the breast. Our hope is that the Macrobiotic Breast Cancer Study will revolutionize the treatment of this disease, so that a natural plant-based diet becomes a standard part of breast cancer treatment and recovery. The Institute has submitted a detailed proposal for a comprehensive macrobiotic care program for study participants. The K.I. hopes to complete the planning phase and move toward implementation this year. Please check kushiinstitute.org for ongoing developments.
To further Michio’s lifetime work of training a new generation of macrobiotic teachers, counselors, and chefs, the K.I. is planning to introduce the Macrobiotic Internship Program in 2015. Qualified participants will have the opportunity to assist K.I. counselors and teachers in personal counseling sessions, lectures, and cooking classes. More details will be announced on this program shortly.
We ask for your support in helping us continue Michio’s vision of health, peace, and sustainability through the macrobiotic way of life. You can support the K.I. by attending a program, recommending the K.I. to friends and family, purchasing high-quality foods and supplies from the Kushi Store, or making a tax-deductible donation the Kushi Institute Annual Fund. We’d like to thank those who have already contributed. It is with much appreciation and gratitude that we will continue the legacy and further the dream of one peaceful world.
On behalf of the staff, faculty, and students of the Kushi Institute, we wish you a healthy and happy New Year.
Let us honor his wonderful life. We invite you to share below.
1 medium-sized blue Hubbard Squash or other hard winter squash of similar size
1 tbsp corn or sesame oil
1 cup onions, deiced
1 cup celery, diced
Pinch of sea salt
8 cups whole wheat or whole wheat sourdough bread cubes, slightly dried out or toasted in a dry skillet until golden brown
2 cups cooked seitan cubed
1 1/2 – 2 cups seitan gravy
Carefully cut out a round section off the top of the squash, just as you would for a jack-o-lantern, and set it aside. Clean out all the seeds and set aside. Heal oil in a skillet and saute the onions for 1-2 minutes. Add the celery and a pinch of salt. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes more. Place this mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the dried or toasted bread cubes and seitan and mix well. Add a small amount of shoyu and mix again. Stuff the hollowed squash completely full. Pour the seitan gravy over the stuffing and let it seep down. Place the top back on the squash. Oil the outside skin of the squash with a small amount of sesame oil. Place the stuffed squash on a baking tray or over roaster and bake at 325 F for about 2 hours. To test for doneness, use a shish kebob stick or chopstick to push the hard skin. When it goes through easily, it is done. Serve with seitan gravy after scooping out the stuffing and squash for each person.
Variation: use sauteed vegetables together with cooked brown rice and wild rice, kasha and vegetables, or millet and vegetables. Add sliced mushrooms, almonds or pine nuts to stuffing.