We are delighted to publish this excellent article from BILL TARA, who has been at the forefront of macrobiotic education for more than four decades. He has consistently focused his work on adapting the macrobiotic philosophy to the needs of modern life and culture. Here he explains how the health of the microcosmic individual is inextricably linked to the health of the macrocosmic planet he lives on.
The biosphere is a delicate and dynamic system of organic and inorganic matter and energy. The health of this system is essential to all life on the planet and yet the actions of humanity threaten to unravel its fragile composition. Many of the problems that face modern society and threaten the quality of life for future generations are a direct result of our failure to forge a respectful attitude toward the planet we live on – the source of our life. We have failed to develop a positive human ecology.
This gap in human thought and action is reflected most dramatically in the way we use the resources of nature in our daily lives. Much of this is done unwittingly and a result of social convention. One of the most commonly ignored elements of this misuse is our relationship to the food we eat and its impact on the health of individuals, society and the environment.
The modern diet is the direct cause of the rise of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke in the affluent countries of the world. It is also a primary cause of increased pollution of the environment by inefficient harmful practices by farming and the meat and dairy industry in particular. The combination of these factors influence greatly the rise of cost in health care systems in the developed nations and contributes to the problems of adequate food supplies to the poor around the world.
Governments have shown unwillingness to address this issue in a meaningful way allowing the international food industry to control and manage food supplies often with subsidies that make less nutritious foods more available to the poor and by allowing increased speculation on commodity grain and bean futures.
If this situation is to be changed for the better it will take urgent action in the arena of public education that leads to a shift in consumption patterns. Such education is not dependent on increased scientific research; the factual data is already there. What is required is effective communication of the facts combined with practical strategies that instruct individuals in the ways they can improve their personal health while knowing that they are also contributing to environmental stewardship and social justice.
A healthy future for human life on earth is possible. It will require a new set of values rooted in a deeper understanding of our relationship with nature and practical strategies for a healthy and ecologically sound way of life.
Many people are concerned about global warming and other environmental issues but there is often frustration regarding the kind of action that can create positive results. The beginning of this process must be the individual. Creating a “critical mass” of individual action is the essential first step in changing the present path of cultural and environmental decay in a life affirming direction.
The diet developed largely in America and spreading rapidly into Europe is a diet high in animal protein, fat and simple sugars. This diet has been cited in scientific literature over the past thirty years as one of the major causes of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The statistical basis of these phenomena is irrefutable and yet governments have not shown the courage or leadership to challenge the international food industry to conform to more rigorous nutritional standards.
The WHO estimates that between 60 and 75% of degenerative disease can be prevented – agribusiness, the meat industry, the dairy industry and food manufacturers have been allowed to influence government policies with no attention to social nutritional needs.
The stress on national health care systems, regardless of the source of payment, will continue to increase as North America and Europe experience an aging population with higher expectations and rising cost of treatment. Prevention and education are the only answers.
Understanding Health and Healing
The negative environmental impact of the food industry is second to none and is generated from several sources:
- Damage and destruction to Rain-forests through land clearing for animal feed production
- Long distance transport of animal feed, processed meat and dairy products
- Excessive use of water resources for both feed and animal growth
- Toxic run off of animal waste, often polluted with growth hormones
Methane gas from cows
Taken together, this makes the consumption of meat and dairy food the greatest single contribution that the average person in America and Western Europe makes toward environmental destruction.
The energy that powers human life is food. Proper access to food supplies on a regional basis must be the goal of any global response to the issues of poor nutrition and the wasteful use of resources. Right now large corporations that grow food to be shipped long distances largely consumes the land resources of the planet. In emerging economies this often means that food for local consumption needs to be imported, driving prices high and undermining regional self-sufficiency.
The impact of improper use of food resources is often dependent on direct or indirect subsidies that artificially depress the costs on the most harmful agricultural products meaning that the poor can only afford poor nutrition. The cost of this situation in human life and on national economies is steadily rising along with the cost of treating increasing cases of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and will continue to do so unless action is taken.
Many people know about the dangers of the modern diet, they simply don’t know how to go about the change. That is why practical education is so essential. Events such as the One World Camp can provide the exposure to daily life skills that can help create a higher level of personal and social health.
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