Fermentation + Macrobiotic Principles =
Eat “Local & Seasonal Microbes”
by Cynthia Briscoe
Macrobiotic guidelines are founded upon natural order. One such guideline is to eat local and seasonal foods. The premise is that food produced in the area in which you live is inherently synchronized with the climate zone, weather patterns and soil matrix. By ingesting local foods, we align our health with these particulars. To me, there is additional unsung benefit of eating locally and seasonally grown foods: We also partake of the indigenous microbes of the region.
The majority of food consumed is a jumble of cross-country products shipped east to west, north to south, and from different hemispheres. The modern profit-drive food industry entices everyone to join in the grab-bag chaos of processed convenience foods, mass produced sterile foods, fragments from whole foods, and even so-called “frankenfood” chemically constructed in laboratories. Unwittingly, people are constructing their cells, tissue and organs from this food removed from its natural origins. From these deconstructed foods, we attempt to put back the missing pieces with supplements and repair the damage with pharmaceuticals. Also damaged within the chain of modern food supply are health-giving microbes.
Within the last 15 years, technological advancements in DNA sequencing have exploded microbe identification and the mapping of the human microbiome (the composition, diversity, and ecology of microbes in and on the human body) previously not possible. The relationship of our health to the health of our human microbiome is unfolding as this unseen world is now being observed. Microbiologists believe that of the 100 trillion cells that compose our body, only 10% of those cells are human. The rest is all microbes! It only seems logical that that the healthy ecology of our personal microbes would benefit our individual health.
Who are we really if 90% of our DNA is microbial DNA? How does the health and diversity of our microbe community affect our health? This is certainly an interesting question. The microbe mapping is well underway, but the relationship of the human microbiome to human health is yet in the frontier stage of data collection and interpretation. Down the road, science hopes to connect the dots between diet and a healthy human microbiome. In the future, scientists predict that when we go for a medical checkup, instead of drawing blood, we will have our microbiome analyzed and adjusted.
Regardless of where you live, what nationality, or occupation, if you compare yourself to another human, you share 99.9% of your human genetic DNA. However, if you compare yourself to another human in terms of your microbiome, you share only 10% of your microbes respectively. As individual members of the human race, we are practically identical in our DNA composition. However, perhaps our unique individual identity lies within the composition of microbes that we host. Respectively that composition is greatly influenced by what kinds of food we choose to eat and how and where that food was produced.
Family members that live together and eat together share greater commonality in their microbiome. The air in our home, touching the food while preparing it, and even our pets contribute to the unique collective microbial ecology that family members share
By cooking together and eating together we may be sharing a whole lot more than conversation.
One significant way to increase your microbe health and diversity is to prepare your own fermented foods, in your own kitchen, from local organic produce. How much more “local and seasonal” can that be? Regular consumption of these naturally fermented foods, paired with a whole food diet can reverse a plethora of current health patterns such as inflammation, gluten sensitivity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis, diabetes…the list goes on and on.
Watch for the new online version of our “Make Your Own Fermented Foods Course” coming soon! If you’d like to be notified when this online course is available, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Peach-boshi” (Part 2) by Cynthia Briscoe
In a previous post, we discussed the idea of substituting green peaches to replace the ume fruit traditionally used to make umeboshi. Not too many folks have an ume tree growing in their yard, but they might have access to an apricot tree or a peach tree. A few Japanese-specific grocers may sell fresh ume fruit in June, but again, this proves to be an exceptional find and is most likely not organic.
When David and I lived in Kansas City, I ordered three ume trees from a nursery in Washington. The Midwest is actually not conducive to growing ume, but in my youthful enthusiasm, I planted them regardless. The trees will live, but very rarely do they bear fruit. Late frosts, common to the region, freeze the blossoms and consequently, no fruit will be produced that year. I found a good rule of thumb before planting an ume tree is to find out whether apricots grow locally, since apricots are the closest relative to ume. Also check with your Agricultural Extension Service concerning the growing success for apricots. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that in Kansas City, apricot trees bear fruit once every 7 to 11 years! So much for growing and making my own umeboshi in Kansas! Perhaps though, if I had been more creative, I could have made “peach-boshi”.
Here in California, our ume tree blooms in January. Our peach tree blooms later in the spring. It has never failed to produce fruit, but even here, the ume blossoms sometimes receive frost. Often the ume blossom time here corresponds with many solid days of rain, making it impossible for the bees to get out and pollinate.
Due to my love of summer peaches, it seems a little sacrilegious to pick all the peaches green. So I plan to pick some of the peaches while they are still green to make “peach-boshi”, and leave the rest to mature and ripen. Then I can enjoy “peach-boshi” and fresh sweet peaches, too!
Another necessary component in making umeboshi or “peach-boshi” is an herb called shiso. Shiso is also known as perilla or beefsteak. The purple shiso is the variety used to impart the red color to umeboshi. Shiso is very rich in iron and calcium. It also boasts anti-bacterial properties
Traditionally, fresh shiso leaves are served as a garnish with sushi containing raw fish, as it protects against fish poisoning, just in case the fish is tainted.
Shiso is easy to grow your own shiso in any climate. Seeds can be ordered online. Once you establish a patch of shiso, it reseeds itself and will return year after year. Plant in the spring and it will be ready to harvest in August.
This simple qigong exercise can be done at home
It’s can cool down an over-heated heart on a hot day.
Through macrobiotics you can take daily steps to transform your life into a celebration and an adventure, doing what you want to do, on a stable foundation of physical health and mental clarity. For the one who really wants an adventurous life, macrobiotics awaits you.
There are five steps we want to suggest as follows:
1. Study macrobiotic principles to see if they make sense to you and if they are something you want to use freely and creatively in your own life.
2. Supply your kitchen with macrobiotic food.
Prepare macrobiotic meals daily.
4. Eat your macrobiotic meals with appreciation while also practicing good chewing.
5. Live the life you want, creatively, adventurously, with gusto and without hesitation, using macrobiotic principles as your guide.
The above five are the foundation of a macrobiotic practice.
We arrived in Melbourne on Sunday, June 20. What friendly people the Australians are! Our sponosor and friend, Susanna, fixed a wonderful macrobiotic meal for us. Macrobiotic food is so dlecious and full of life. How lucky we are! Best wishes to all, including our Facebook fans and other friends back home and around the world!
Here’s a pic of Cynthia at the airport with our plane, that we were on fir 14 hrs(!), behind her
Ira Briscoe loved his young friends and wanted all the best for them.
On August 14, 2004, Ira died from injuries received during an accident while with his parents, David and Cynthia, at The Kushi Macrobiotic Summer Conference in Vermont.
At the young age of 18 Ira was already known as a true human being who was sought by his friends for advice on life, who inspired them to finish high school, and who was appreciated as a genuine friend who could be turned to in times of heartache or trouble without fear of betrayal or judgement.
One night during the Summer Conference, Ira told his mother, “I’ve never felt more alive in my life.” He loved the new macrobiotic adventure he had found for himself, and he was looking forward to starting a campus macrobiotic program upon his return to California and his first year at California State University-Chico
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. Ira was always sharing his bounding enthusiasm for macrobiotics with his young friends, loaning them his books, inviting them for meals, and discussing with them his views on life and freedom that were transforming through his study of George Ohsawa’s writings and the writings of many others, including Henry David Thoreau.
Ira’s generous spirit of hope for humanity inspires and energizes all that we do at Macrobiotics America.
For the extraordinary blessing of his 18 yrs with us we are truly grateful. In his soaring life of the spirit now we cheer him on, our eyes wide with wonder at the beauty that is forever Ira.
“May all beings and all the earth be healthy and happy.”
The Briscoes: David, Cynthia, Justin, Nora, Iris, Ana and Rio
Personal responsibility for one’s health and life is essential to macrobiotic practice. We at Macrobiotics America also believe in being engaged with the wider world beyond our individual health concerns and personal daily life.
We are an inseparable part of the whole of life, including the society and natural environment of the entire planet. It does not matter to us how others eat, what religion they embrace, what race they are, or what traditions they live by. We are all one human family, and when there is suffering in our family, we naturally respond
Our theories of what has caused the suffering or what will stop the suffering, doesn’t do much to alleviate the suffering right now, this moment. All that matters to us is that someone in our family is suffering.
In order to respond to our human brothers and sisters in ways that compliment our teaching and sharing of macrobiotics, we at Macrobiotics America ask you to join us by involving yourself in local activities and programs that reach out to our common human family in its immediate moment of need. And/or you can join us in supporting the following organizations:
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
National Center for Exploited and Missing Children
International Justice Mission
Hmong International Human Rights Watch
The beautiful and life-sustaining natural environment also needs our help and protection. Please consider getting involved in local environmental organizations and/or joining us in supporting the following:
Please contact us with information about humanitarian and environmental causes for possible posting here.
In the early days of macrobiotics in the USA, students studied in small groups at the home or “study house” of experienced teachers. It was a strong, personal and friendly atmosphere for learning. Many respected teachers and some of longest-practicing macrobiotic people in America today, received their macrobiotic foundation from the study-house style of learning. When macrobiotic schools with large classes opened in the 1970’s, study houses unfortunately disappeared. Recently, David & Cynthia Briscoe opened their home in the study house tradition, once more affording students this unique opportunity. Students from around the world come there to benefit from this legendary way of learning and developing a macrobiotic practice.
The personal study-house way of learning is not presented in an institutional, medical, or fancy setting. It is in our humble, relaxed and welcoming home in a friendly, middle class neighborhood of Northern California. Students attending classes are in a small group of no more than 6, learning in down-to-earth, family-style surroundings. This opportunity for learning, in such a small group and in such a personal way, with David and Cynthia, macrobiotic teachers who have taught all over the world for more than 30 years, is a rare and unique offering
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The Macrobiotics America Study House also hosts community gatherings, including monthly potlucks, “Ira Briscoe Memorial” Sponsored Classes for Young People, and serves as a macrobiotic resource for the surrounding community.
Please come and visit soon.