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Macrobiotics is a philosophy of life that aims at helping individuals gain a greater degree of freedom in creating personal wellbeing. An important aspect of this diet and health. Are based on concepts that reflect physical, environmental and social observations for a period of over 5,000 years. Although the philosophy bears little relationship of Western nutritional science, the conclusions are remarkably similar.

The Japanese philosopher and teacher George Ohsawa created the foundation of what we now know as macrobiotics in the 1930’s while living and teaching in Paris. He began to use the word “macrobiotics” in the 1950’s to convey the idea that this way of living created a larger awareness and enhanced experience of life (“maco” meaning large and “bios” meaning life).

Ohsawa himself had recovered from tuberculosis of the lung and colon in 1911 using a diet recommended by Doctor Sagen Ishizuka. Ohsawa spent many years attempting to synthesize and simplify the tradition of Oriental medicine in a way that made the principles and practice more accessible to the general public.

Building on a long tradition of Chinese and Japanese philosophy, particularly Taoism, he believed that nature operated according to cycles and rhythms that could be easily perceived by us in daily life. Adapting our life to the movement of nature is the way to achieve health and peace of mind. His ideas on the importance of daily food are the best know aspect of his philosophy. He predicted the damage being done by the food industry and chemical farming. He was an early advocate of organic agriculture, regional food production, seasonal eating and reducing or eliminating animal foods from the diet.  He understood that each of us is different and so introduced principles for the individual to choose the foods that suited them best.

Following the Second World War Oshawa gathered a new breed of students who were committed to taking the ideas of macrobiotics into the world. Among those students were Michio and Aveline Kushi, Herman and Cornelia Aihara and Shizuko Yamamoto they moved to America and were to become the most influential personalities in the next stage of macrobiotic development. Between them they continued the refinement and shaping of macrobiotics to meet the needs of the times.

By the time of his death in 1966 he had written over 300 books in Japanese, French and English. With a growing concern over environmental issues and a hunger for the simplicity of Eastern spiritual teachings, macrobiotics was a perfect fit. Michio Kushi and Aveline Kushi became the most influential of Ohsawa’s students. Thousands of students made the trip to Boston, to study with them. With the Kushi’s encouragement these students established the natural foods movement in America, promoted organic agriculture, established magazines and promoted the ideas of preventive medicine and health reform. Following the example of their teacher, the Kushi's prompted their students to travel and teach.

Author: Bill Tara