Chi No Chi: Where Has All the Responsibility Gone?

By Bill Neall

As we continue to sift through the crap that comes our way, the pattern keeps repeating itself so we are able to take very few things for granted…and we shouldn’t. Once dealt with doesn’t mean forever forgotten. Life is made up of many variables and always changing. You can increase the consistencies by improving understanding of who you are, why you’re here, and moving cumulatively forward while presenting people with choices they may not be aware of otherwise.

Forming a good foundation in terms of physical health is of primary importance. With a healthy body the obstructions fall away. Clarity becomes prevalent. One of the ways to aid your body in healing itself is the quality of nourishment you provide it. In macrobiotics this includes organic, when at all possible, whole grains, local seasonally fresh vegetables and various other near center balancing foods tailored to your condition and its basis.

Until macrobiotics was introduced in the Western world, there wasn’t a great awareness of the importance of food. In older cultures it was taken for granted, but has changed dramatically over recent history due to overuse of extreme, more emotionally attractive items.

In the early days of macrobiotics there was very little organic food available on a wide scale basis. People were able to allow themselves to heal using food from the supermarkets, for example. Who knows what would have happened under organic circumstances. Also, then was different from now in the amount, concentration, use, and presence of harmful pesticides, fertilizers, and farming techniques. It’s been a rapid downhill progression to where today it’s more likely poisoned than not, no matter who says what.

Today, in most areas of the United States and parts of the world, organic choices are available either locally or within shipping distance. And as the use goes up, the cost goes down. Still more expensive than commercially grown products, the gap is narrowing. If there is a farmer’s market in your area the cost is considerably lower, perhaps equaling that of or less than conventional. What are some of the reasons to support organic? I found a list of the top 10 reasons to buy organic excerpted from an article by Sylvia Tause, marketing coordinator at the time for Alfafa’s Markets in Boulder and Denver, Colorado. I don’t know how old it is but you can fill in the blanks.


The Top 10 Reasons to Buy Organic

  1. Protect future generations: “We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.” – Lester Brown. The average child receives four times more exposure that an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choices will impact your child’s health in the future.
  2. Prevent soil erosion: the Soil Conservation Service estimates that more than 3 billion tons of topsoil are eroded from US croplands each year. That means soil is eroding seven times faster that it is being built up naturally. Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming. But in conventional farming the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a vertical position so they can be chemically fertilized. As a result, American farms are suffering from the worst soil erosion in history.
  3. Protect water quality: Water makes up 2/3rds of our body mass and covers 3/4ths of the planet. Despite its importance, the EPA estimates pesticides  contaminate the groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more that half the country’s population.
  4. Save energy: American farms have changed drastically in the last 3 generations, from family-based small businesses dependent on human energy to large-scale factory farms highly dependent on fossil fuels. Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming 12% of the country’s total energy supply. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all the crops in the US. Organic produce tends to travel fewer miles from field to table.
  5. Keep chemicals off your plate: Now the EPA considers that 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides and 30% of all insecticides are carcinogenic. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans over their lifetimes. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, and can also be harmful to humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutation.
  6. Protect farm worker health: A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a six times greater risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer. Farm worker health also is a serious problem in developing nations, where pesticide use can be poorly regulated. An estimated 1 million people are poisoned annually by pesticides.
  7. Help small farmers: Although more and more large-scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices, most organic farms are small independently owned and operated family farms of less than 100 acres.
  8. Support a true economy: Although organic foods might seem more expensive than conventional foods, conventional food prices do not reflect hidden costs borne by taxpayers, including nearly $74 billion in federal subsidies in 1988. Other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and cleanup, and environmental damage.
  9. Promote bio-diversity: Mono-cropping is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used often in increasing amounts. Single crops are also much more susceptible to pests, making farmers more reliant on pesticides.
  10. Taste better flavor: There’s good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes – they taste better! Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant, and ultimately, our palates.


I sit here a couple of years after I wrote this article and not much has changed. The difference is now there are many more incursions into our wishes as people of the earth in the ongoing attempt to homogenize humanity. Science marches all over looking for the answers in smaller and smaller pieces, with no end in sight, along with any answers, much less ones that have any independence. Bio-engineering, control of the food supply, GE foods and food products, human cloning and otherwise, organ harvesting, and natural flavors (chemicals that smell, taste and feel like the real experience) are just a few of these transgressions against humanity and nature.

The bigger question is how did things get to this point? I heard a long-time, upper positioned at one time macrobiotic teacher, educator, and counselor whose main business now is magnets, say that things are looking up economically in the alternative health field according to recent data. By this he meant that the numbers are showing a large proportion of people in America and Europe spending money on these alternative products and services. His theory as to why this was happening is based on the idea that people are more interested these days in taking the responsibility involved in self care and are not going the conventional route as much.

Looking at this from a different point of view, I come up with that more people may be choosing alternatives, but not with any great interest in taking personal responsibility. And yes, this includes macrobiotics, big time. Nothing’s changed but the scenery. The attitude is still one of looking for the fastest solution, never mind how long it took to get into the current situation. It is only a continuation of the same old type of thinking. The faster the better, the more the better, the easier the better. Nothing has dramatically changed, nor will, until this transformation of thinking occurs. If you don’t agree with this, step away and observe. If you can’t see, focus. If you still can’t see, clear the fog. Meditate on what a sterile seed is, for starters. Take it deep and wide. I challenge you.

In any event, if there are no bugs in your garden please understand why.

Let the chi flow.
© 2001, Everyman

“The macrobiotic way of life recommended by the ancient wise people and practiced widely for physical, mental and spiritual development consists of the following arts; the way of eating, the way of breathing, and the way of daily life. Because a human being is part of his environment, and has evolved through biological development covering more than three billion years on this planet, his physical, mental and spiritual conditions are based upon what he consumes from his natural environment and his food. The way of eating is the most essential factor for his development.”

Michio Kushi, THE BOOK OF DO-IN (ISBN 0-87040-382-6)

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