I was so very fortunate to have worked closely with Cornellia Aihara for eight years, managing the Vega Study Center kitchen, training staff, resident students and teaching cooking classes. Cornellia was a firm believer in making her own macrobiotic staples. We made Vega’s own miso, shoyu (natural soysauce), umeboshi, umeboshi vinegar, mochi, rice bran pickles, takuan, seitan and many other items. Sometimes students would question her, “Cornellia, why don’t you just buy these foods?” In her unique Japanese/American manner of speaking, she would say, “What if boat doesn’t come?” I reflected on those simple words when the tsunami disaster hit Japan. Only Cornellia and Mr. Muramoto taught students in America how to make their own shoyu. Especially, when students stayed for a while at Vega and ate these products, then they understood the value in terms of health and flavor.
Cornellia was always very proud of her accomplished shoyu, miso and pickles – wanting to share them with everyone. I savoured the flavors, but more importantly, the unique opportunity of learning the art of making these traditional foods. I knew of no American macrobiotic teachers who taught making these foods, so I happily engaged myself as a link between Cornellia, a first generation macrobiotic teacher, and future generations of students. Now, I’d like to share this knowlege with you.
For myself, I enjoy making these products. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and even security. I know exactly the quality of the ingredients and how it is made. I can save money and still enjoy these wonderful and delicious products without breaking the bank. Some of these items, like miso, or mochi can be made in larger amounts with friends, extended family, groups or neighbors and shared. Producing our own food, as a community, for well-being and sustainability is a special human experience most of us no longer know within today’s social structure. The modern hurry-up lifestyle removes us from a deep connection to our food, leaving it to the chain of manufacturers-shippers-middlemen-marketers.
In my upcoming June 6-10 “Make Your Own Home Crafted Foods”course in Oroville, CA, you can learn to make many of your own special home-crafted foods, and then return home to establish a deeper sense of community with family, friends, and local support groups. You simply can’t compare the quality and flavor of these homemade foods to anything that can be store-bought. They’re sustainable, economical, ecological, practical, fun and incomparably delicious!
Please come join me for this 5-day, hands-on cooking intensive and let me share with you what I learned from Cornellia. REGISTRATION & MORE INFORMATION
Herman Aihara was born on September 28, 1920. Along with many others I had the great good fortune to have him as one of my macrobiotic mentors. I only wish that more of today’s macrobiotic teachers, counselors and individuals would have
studied with him in-depth during his lifetime. I believe this would have very much deepened and broadened the view of macrobiotics for so many. Herman was unique. Like he did with all of his students, he showed me the necessity of finding real freedom through personal happiness and creativity. Many have commented over the years that the following definition of macrobiotics by Herman is their very favorite. So, I want to share it with you on this day, his birthday.
A Definition of Macrobiotics by Herman Aihara
“Macrobiotics amounts to finding our physiological limitations and trying to live within them. This is the cultivation of humbleness. When we think that we can do anything we want, we become arrogant. This arrogance causes sickness.
When we are living within our physical limitations, then our spirituality is free. Macrobiotics seeks freedom in spirit. Freedom exists in our spirit – so we can think anything. But biologically, physiologically we are unfree. We can wish to eat anything we want, but we cannot do it and still live within our natural physiological limitations.
Disciplining physical unfreedom is the foundation of spiritual freedom. God didn’t give us unlimited biological freedom, but appreciating and taking into consideration our unfree physical condition leads us to greater freedom, both physically and spiritually.”
– Herman Aihara
author of Acid & Alkaline
Learning from Salmon
and other books
Know Your Physical Limitations: A Lesson From Herman Aihara by David Briscoe
Freedom is a wonderful thing. It is wonderful to feel unlimited. Even the prisoner in solitary confinement can be free in his imagination. Our culture teaches us to think of ourselves as free and unlimited. But we are actually free only in spirit. Physically, we are not free or unlimited. Probably one of Herman’s most powerful, simple and often repeated statements was “Know your physical limitations.” Many times this was misunderstood by his students. Some saw this statement as negative, and they didn’t pay much attention, but in this statement was contained the essence of many of Herman’s most positive teachings. In order to be in the physical world for a normal, healthy lifetime, it is important to know how the physical world works. It has rules. The body, being part of the physical world, needs to operate by the rules or it will get sick much more than it normally would, and then it will age prematurely.
We all know that we need oxygen. If we go into outer space or under the water, we must take our supply of oxygen with us. This is one of our physical limitations. We just can’t go anywhere we want, we can only go where there is oxygen. We all come to learn soon in life that the body’s temperature maintains itself at 98.6 F. It can go up a little, maybe down a little, but it can’t go up too high for too long or down too low for too long. If it does, our life is in real danger. This having to maintain a certain body temperature is another of our physical limitations. Nobody can buy their way out of this. So, knowing this, we make sure that our temperature never gets too high or goes too low. It’s become common sense.
We all have to maintain a constant blood sugar level, we all have to consume food and water. These things we understand easily. When we study more about the body, we discover that it has even more, not-so-obvious limitations. In our blood we have to maintain a certain concentration of minerals like sodium and potassium.
This concentration of minerals must be maintained constantly or we are in big trouble. Fortunately, there are automatic functions in the body that maintain this internal mineral concentration.
Perhaps one of the most important physiological limitations is pH or acid-alkaline balance. Human blood must be maintained constantly at a pH of 7.4. If it varies from this number by much, we would go into a coma or convulsions. Our lungs, kidneys and blood buffer system help the body remove acid so that the pH of 7.4 can be steadily maintained. It is a natural process going on night and day without stop.
When we select food and drink, it adds acid or alkaline-forming elements to our blood after it is digested. Protein, fat and refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour, white rice, alcohol, etc.) all add acid to the body. Of course, we need a certain amount of protein, fat and unrefined carbohydrate, the body can handle
them. It’s when we eat concentrated amounts of these nutrients that we create an acid blood condition. Many, many health problem have their roots in an acid blood condition. When we learn how to wisely choose foods according to macrobiotic principles, we discover that we can easily support our body in maintaining an alkaline blood condition. When we do this we are learning to live with a physical limitation, and we know how to stay healthy longer. By understanding that we do have physical limitations, and that be learning to embrace them and live with them, we become stronger and happier people. Living with our physical limitations allows us to root ourselves strongly in the reality of our biological life. When we accomplish this, our spirit is able to soar freely and without limitation. It is like a majestic tree, firmly rooted in the earth, supporting its branches in their reach to the heavens.
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