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FOOD AND YOU
This Page will be on specific foods and the questions they raise
from a macrobiotic and anthroposophical perspective.
et. al. / Blue Green Algae /
Page 2 - Spiritual Considerations-Leafy
The problem of protein intake is one of both quality and quantity.
In respect to quality the highest quality is from vegetable sources,
specifically grains and vegetables. It used to be thought we could
not eat whole grains and vegetables alone without incurring the
possibility of developing deficiencies of so-called essential
amino acids. However, it is now known we can obtain all the essential
amino acids eating vegetables alone. The problem of quantity comes
from errors made in the early days of research done in the 1930's
into finding out what is the suitable nutrient intake for proper
growth and development of the human organism. In the case of protein,
these studies were done on rats, and when it had been determined
what the ideal amount of protein was for them in terms of mg/kg.,
the calculations were made to convert this figure into what would
be the appropriate amount for human beings. These calculations
took into account the differences in body weight/surface area
ratios etc., but, significantly, what was not taken into account
is the fact that it takes the human being 21 years to reach maturity,
whereas it only takes the rat three months; thus the recommended
amount of protein for human beings exceeded the actual amount
needed by a factor of over eighty!
Thus it turns out the average active adult human being only needs
approximately one ounce (25-30 grms) per day of protein. This
amount can easily be met by eating cooked whole grains and vegetables.
Here I am going to summarise the problems which have arisen as
a result of the significant error of telling people we need to
eat relatively vast quantities of protein, and that these have
to come from animal sources-beef, pork, chicken and fish. The
source is a book I highly recommend called "The Essentials
of Nutrition" by Dr. Gerhardt Schmidt, MD (Bio-Dynamic Literature,
1. The increased consumption of protein, preferred and recommended
today, has more and more been shown to produce or facilitate critical
2. The unrestrained consumption of protein-at least of animal
protein- brings forth an increasingly distinct animalization and
brutalization of humanity.
3. With regard to the world economy, the high level of protein
consumption is an irresponsible luxury for a small minority of
the world's population.
4. This presents a considerable social problem, an enormous source
of danger for the entire world-situation today.
5. People are hindered from coming to the the real facts of the
protein question, which is of the greatest significance for the
continued existence of human culture.
6. The protein question is thus a problem of medical, social,
and economic significance for the whole world.
These statements of Dr Schmidt's point to the profound gravity
of the question of protein intake and source. It is actually impossible
to overestimate the devastation caused to the human population
and the world ecology and economy which has been the consequence
of the modern obsession with animal protein. And this obsession
seems to be growing with even more force as the years go by, rather
than receding as it should have done by now.
This brings me to the problem of tofu. I have repeatedly stated
in these pages that people refrain from eating tofu if we wish
to experience good health.
Tofu is a product of soybeans. The whole basis of the growth in
popularity of tofu, its main selling point, is that if we wish
to avoid eating meat products, then we need to replace that with
another source rich in protein,(and I have shown this idea to
be bogus) which is tofu.
A crude description of the making of tofu is whole soybeans are
cooked for a long time with a large volume of water. After sufficient
cooking the soybeans are a mush and they are left to cool before
they are placed in cheesecloth type sacks and then squeezed to
force out the creamy tofu, leaving the husk and skin of the soybeans
in the sack. The tofu is poured into moulds and a hardening agent,
traditionally a liquid called nigari made from pouring water through
large bags of seasalt, is poured over the tofu to harden them
into the moulds purchased in the stores.
Thus tofu is a refined product and is therefore, from the perspective
of yin and yang, very yin compared to grains, vegetables and even
fruit. The consumption of tofu is akin to eating refined white
flour. Its very yin quality means it causes overly yin effects
in the human organism, primarily in the intestines, leading to
digestive/assimilation conditions. Its high protein content means
it leads to all the problems associated with high protein intake,
including, of course, cancer.
From a spiritual perspective, soybeans and soy products(other
than miso, tamari, and soy sauce,which, due to the way they are
made, using high quantities of seasalt as well as long cooking
time and the long periods of fermentation needed to make them,
means the essential character of the soybean has undergone a radical
transformation) and beans generally have the effect of making
our thought processes relatively sluggish and "earthbound".
In essence, beans and bean products tend to act as a counterforce
to spiritual development. Interestingly enough, in the Platonic
Academy of Ancient Greece, students were only admitted to the
rigorous spiritual training and learning they received they if
they agreed to refrain from eating of beans during the time they
spent at the Academy.
In summary, it is healthier, in terms of human, ecological, social
and economic health, to keep animal protein intake to a minimum,
and it must be avoided entirely if we wish to heal ourselves of
any degenerative condition, for most people most of the time.
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VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
The issue of vitamin and mineral etc., supplements is of great
concern to people who are beginning macrobiotic practice. In conventional
dietary advice it is unquestioned that people are in need of vitamin
and mineral supplements, with millions of Americans regularly
consuming vast quantities of these pills and powders, making the
industry a billion-dollar enterprise. Of course, the reason it
is unquestioned is because people generally are satisfied with
the delusion the human body is a machine, and if it is a machine
it is perfectly logical to think it needs fuel, lubricants and
additives like any other machine, so it is commonplace to hear
it said that if we want to be healthy we need to eat a "balanced
diet, get regular exercise and take plenty of vitamins etc."
Whereas with macrobiotic practice one is counseled that not only
are vitamin and mineral supplements unnecessary, they are actually
counter-productive if one wishes to live a healthy, vital life.
The question is why.
There are many facets to answering this question and I will begin
my explanation with primary considerations. The essential process
to understand in respect of ingesting any substance is digestion.
The digestive process is a complex one and here I will concentrate
on the focal point which is what occurs in the small intestine.
The mucus epithelial lining of the small intestine may be likened
to a selective lens; when the digested food in the form of broken
down food substances approaches the lining, within the wall of
the intestine the formative "life (also called etheric) body"
of the intestine is imprinted with the image of the form and configuration
of the digested food. The mucous epithelial lining then takes
takes up the food substances, and for an instant they are transformed
into their purely spiritual formative state, and in that moment
the etheric "formative body" of the small intestine
'fashions' the etheric food substances after the image with which
it was imprinted originally. It thus forms the physical basic
substances for tissues and cells and the various hormones, enzymes
and so forth. The 'selective' aspect means the etheric body of
the small intestine takes up what it needs according to its needs
at any given moment.
We can illustrate the end-point of the digestive process as analagous
to information processing. The information provided to the body
is the food, the processing medium is the mucous epithelial lining
and the selective receiver of the information is the etheric "formative
life body" of the small intestine.
There are four broad types of information which can be classified
1. Information itself, which is distinguished from the other types
in that it actually informs.
2. Misinformation, which is information that is ambiguous, nebulous
3. Disinformation, which is information used to mislead and deceive.
4. Data, which is lifeless information, that which is old and
out-moded, and mere noise.
What is pertinent to this discussion is the quality of information
we are giving to the body in respect of vitamin and mineral supplements.
Here quality is a measure of what is discerned by WHOLENESS (HOLINESS),
which is to say that when information is provided to the body
in the form of food, its quality or lack of quality is dependent
on the context in which the food is presented to the body.
If the context is fragmented, dissipated, isolated, artificial
or obliterated, then the quality of information is poor and amounts
to misinformation, and in extreme instances, disinformation. If
the context is whole, natural and vital, then the quality of information
is harmoniously and vitally informing.
In speaking of wholeness in respect of context of the food we
eat, I mean that account is made of the entire history of the
biological co-dependency of the physical body of the human being
and the plant world. On reflection it is obvious that the development
of our physical organism has occurred contemporaneously with the
development of the plant kingdom. The latter has provided the
etheric, formative body with the physical matter with which it
forms the physical body (whence it gets its designation 'formative'),
even if we have eaten the material once removed from the plant
kingdom by eating animal food. Over the millenia, therefore, we
have received the material information of vitamins and minerals
in the context of the plant or animal in which the vitamin or
mineral is found.
The singular problem with vitamin and mineral supplements is that
they are information presented to the body in fragmentary, isolated,
artificial, dissipated form, completely removed from the context
in which they are naturally found. It thus follows that when they
are consumed the body is misinformed, and this misinformation
leads to the body becoming physically diseased if they are consumed
regularly for a long time.
Further considerations about the concept of 'context' with regard
to food substances of any kind. In the case of mineral, vitamin
and trace element substances present in natural, whole foods,
these are found embedded in what I will call their 'natural matrix'.
Thus in the broccoli, brown rice, kale, onions etc., the vitamin
C, vitamin A, magnesium or whatever substance may be in question
is naturally found surrounded by a 'matrix' in which it is held.
The significance of this is what I will call the 'accurate biological
activity' with respect to the healthy, normal functions of cellular
activity is not only a function of the form of the substance in
question but is also of the matrix in which it is embedded. Thus,
if the substance in question is either extracted, processed or
synthesised, it does not have its accurate biological activity
in the cells and tissues. The 'discontextual food substance' thus
puts a strain on the immune functions of the body, gradually leading
to weakness of the immune system.
The foods recommended in the macrobiotic way of eating contains
more than adequate amounts of vitamins, trace elements, minerals
etc.; moreover, these are presented to the body in a vital, natural,
whole and therefore contextually appropriate form. Thus the body
is provided with whole and harmonious information as suitable
material for the energetic formative body to construct cells,
hormones, enzymes etc.
Of course there is more to living harmoniously than providing
the body with healthy material for its functioning. The main consideration
here is assisting the etheric body in its functioning, which brings
into focus the role of the emotions, patterns of living and mental
attitudes. I will address these on other pages.
When anyone begins the practice of macrobiotics we can confidently
assume one's physical organism is ill-informed, devitalised, unwholesome
and dissipated. The significant process that occurs during the
early years of macrobiotic practice is the regeneration and revitalisation
of the body; it is obviously counter-productive to continue presenting
the body with ill-informing pills and powders (and it doesn't
take much imagination to recognise therapeutic drugs as being
even more perniciously ill-informing agents than vitamin and mineral
supplements) when one is trying to help the body become revitalised.
On the other hand, a word of caution. If anyone reading this has
been consuming any of these agents of mis- and dis-information
it is advisable to gradually wean oneself off them over a period
of weeks, months and even years, depending on the particular agent
of mis-information one has been consuming. If one suddenly stops
taking these while beginning macrobiotic practice one is likely
to experience potent withdrawal symptoms which indicates the body
is undergoing severe stresses likely to be harmful to the regenerative
process begun by macrobiotic practice.
Earlier this month (May 1996) a very interesting report was published
in some newspapers (not in the papers I get in The Bay Area, incidentally)
of a study done on 9000 people who had been exposed to asbestos
and are or were smokers. These people were divided into two groups;
one of them were given daily doses of vitamin A and beta-carotene
and the other group was not given any supplements. After four
years of following these two groups it was concluded the people
being given the supplements were dying faster than the ones who
were not, and the study was terminated.
It has become apparent over the past few years the macrobiotic
community as a whole has been deluding itself into thinking this
supplement is some kind of 'super food'. And furthermore, this
delusion has reached such proportions that people think if you
are eating macrobiotically, this food is necessarily part of your
daily dietary intake.
It began in 1985 when John Mann, who at that time was a macrobiotic
teacher and counselor, and also publisher of a macrobiotic magazine
called 'Solstice', took it upon himself to extol the virtues of
this wonder food. Here on the west coast we have what is called
The Pacific Macrobiotic Conference, held twice a year at the Spring
and Fall Equinoxes since 1980, and around 1985 he participated
in one we held in San Diego, debating the pros and cons of this
substance with Cecile Levin, a long time macrobiotic counselor
and teacher who lives in Los Angeles. This debate was very interesting
but one point which did not come up during it is the fact the
blue-green algae John Mann was discussing is harvested by a company
called Cell-Tech, and sold under a multi-level marketing scheme.
The multi-level marketing scheme works as follows: a distributor
approaches someone and does the usual snowjob selling tactics
that american business has so well perfected; you know what I
mean, take this stuff and your sex life will never be the same,
you will have so much vitality you won't have to sleep more than
three hours a night, we have all these case histories of miraculous
cures of every disease under the sun etc., etc. Then the kicker
comes in, which is you can become a distributor too and it it
is explained what becoming a distributor means. It means that
if you sign on as a distributor, every time you sell any of the
stuff, you get a cut. Now, if you can persuade six people to become
distributors, then every time they sell some of the stuff, you
also get a cut. If in turn those six people sign on six people
each to become distributors, every time each of those 36 people
sell the stuff, you get a cut. It is not hard to see that this
can be a very lucrative business if you can do a good enough snowjob
on people. I have heard that people who have become distributors
of the stuff and are good at snowjobs are making $5000+ a month
and those who got in early in the game are making $15-$20,000
Well, fine, if that is what you want to do. After all, drug dealing
has always been a very lucrative profession, from the pharmaceutical
companies and their pushers, called doctors, all the way through
the vitamin industry to the crack cocaine dealer on a street corner
near you. However, as a macrobiotic counselor you can not recommend
your clients to take this stuff and then turn around and be the
one who sells it to them. This is a conflict of interest and even
the medical profession has, at least until recently, got that
straight, by having the doctors push the drugs, and the pharmacist
sell it to you.
Now, I know several alleged macrobiotic counselors who are distributors
of the stuff and are screamingly loud proponents of its miraculous
properties. These people include Steve Gagne, Richard France,
Kerry Loeb, Patrick McCarty and I call them alleged macrobiotic
counselors because any consideration of blue-green algae from
the perspective of basic macrobiotic principles shows this substance
to be not what they claim it to be and calls into question their
understanding of macrobiotic principles and practices.
The claim blue-green algae is a natural wild food is totally ridiculous.
It is originally, while growing in Klamath Lake in Oregon, but
from there it is channelled to a factory built near the shores
of the lake where it is processed and then freeze-dried into a
powder which is then placed in gelatin capsules or in bottles
for distribution. Thus, during this manufacturing process all
the wildness is effectively removed and replaced with the 'chi'
of the machinery used to make it. It is essentially then a dead
substance, is not natural, is not whole and is not a food.
It is claimed it has all these health giving properties and all
kinds of scientific studies are cited to show what a marvellous
substance it is. However, as I showed in the Introduction page
of The Alchemycal Pages, any scientific studies which are done
on tissues or substances outside the internal physiological environment
of the human physical organism have no basis in fact, because
chemistry and physics as we know it does not take place inside
the physical body. Any and all claims made on such a basis are
Then it is claimed if you take the stuff you are no longer going
to suffer from fatigue. This begs the question of why people are
so fatigued in the first place that they need to take any stimulant
at all. Another claim is that it is very good for the kidneys
which is very interesting because about two winters ago, I am
not exactly sure when, I read a story in a macrobiotic journal
about Steve Gagne developing kidney stones, and he has been a
loud proponent of the stuff for years.
My experience of counseling people who have been taking it is
limited to one instance, because in my counseling I strongly advise
people not to take it at all, as I feel that it is a supplement
and has all the problems associated with vitamin and mineral supplements
which I discussed earlier. The person who had been taking it was
someone I had counseled several years ago and last year she called
me to ask for a session. The problem she had developed was glaucoma
and after much questioning it turned out she had started taking
the blue-green algae two years ago, and soon after the symptoms
of glaucoma began to appear. The glaucoma had steadily gotten
worse over the years and at the last test she had done her eye
doctor told her she would be going blind soon. When she asked
him how long, he said a few months to a year, which is when she
called me. I suggested strongly she stop taking the blue-green
algae, made adjustments to her diet, suggested a couple of home
remedies and within six weeks her ocular pressure was normal.
The people who I have seen around who I know are taking the stuff
have dark circles around their eyes, which means they have kidney
stagnation, and their eyes tend to bulge out slightly, which is
a yin symptom.
I feel blue-green algae is extremely yin relative to the human
organism. Of course, every phenomenon has both yin and yang qualities
and the question is which one is dominant at the time it is, in
the case of food or any substance, being ingested, relative to
the yin and yang of the human organism and the yin and yang of
the condition of the person who is ingesting the food or substance.
The blue-green algae grows in a fresh water lake which is a relatively
yin environment compared to a food growing out of the ground in
the air and sunlight; this would tend to make the blue-green algae
more yang. It grows extremely rapidly, which is a very yin phenomenon.
Then, in the processing it is freeze dried, which is a yin process
having the yang effect of drying, and, during this process the
blue-green algae are fragmented into a powder, which is a yin
process. So, overall you would have to think the blue-green algae
is a very yin substance.
Now, if people taking it report a substantial increase in their
level of vitality one would have to conclude that the overly yin
effect of blue-green algae is stimulating and that it also will
tend to have a liberating effect on anyone who is overly tense,
stressed, or too yang. I also think it is a drug, a 'natural amphetamine',
and I have heard accounts of people in the anthroposophical community
who have been taking it for over a year and decided to stop taking
it because it was getting too expensive and they reported symptoms
similar to drug withdrawal symptoms when they stopped taking it.
And of course, as you will know from reading the Introduction
page of The Alchemycal Pages, there is no cure for any disease,
so when I hear talk of a miracle food I immediately see red flags
all over the place.
It is clear to me blue-green algae is a substance you take at
your own risk. And it does not belong on the plate or in the diet
of anyone who is eating macrobiotically (which, as will become
clear over the coming months, is not the same thing as eating
a macrobiotic diet, for there is no such thing). The also serious
problem of macrobiotic teachers and counselors becoming distributors
of the stuff, and making $5000-$20,000 a month, is that it is
also obvious no-one who is making that kind of money can possibly
be someone who would have anything objective to say about the
substance they are so zealously promoting. The practice of selling
the stuff to the people you recommend to take the stuff also means
one's counseling is compromised and the integrity of the counselor
and the soundness of their advice is in question. As for the idea
making this kind of money making anyone free merely means one's
ideas of freedom also include zealously enslaving yourself to
having to promote the stuff, because if you do not, your lucrative
source of income soon dries up.
Also, in the book "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul
Pitchford, he mentions two very interesting notes about blue-green
algae. One is the Indians who used to live around the shores of
Lake Klamath would not eat the blue-green algae because they thought
it was toxic. Also, the harvesting rights to the lake were purchased
by the owner of Cell-Tech and his brother in the Fifties. A dispute
arose between them and in settling the dispute, they split the
lake into two for the purpose of harvesting the blue-green algae.
The other brother harvests the same blue-green algae from the
same lake and you can readily purchase it in any vitamin and supplement
store for a fifth of the price Cell-Tech charges!
This sad episode begs several questions; why are some macrobiotic
counselors and teachers degenerating to the level of doctors where
at least the doctors have the excuse that they do not know any
better than that the human body is a machine? Furthermore, why
are macrobiotic counselors and teachers, who should know better,
citing scientific evidence to bolster their claims for the alleged
wonderful properties of blue-green algae (or anything else, for
that matter)? And why would anyone eating macrobiotically find
the need to take the stuff anyway? These are serious questions
and if you persevere in reading the Alchemycal Pages over the
coming months and years you will find out the answers to these
questions for yourself.
I had been trolling the Net before my computer went down and did
a search on blue-green algae; the search brought up tens of thousands
of pages indexed to blue-green algae and most of them were the
usual solicititations to participate in its wealth enhancing aspects
and also many testimonials to its miraculous powers. One interesting
item to me was a page saying some scientists had found some elements
in it that were similar in chemical structure to cocaine, which
explains a great deal.
Copyright ©Kaare Bursell, 1996-2002.