George Ohsawa, The Macrobiotic Movement - Page 2

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s


ęCopyright 2004 Soyinfo Center, Lafayette, California


Macrobiotics Page 1


Development of Macrobiotics in Boston. Michio and Aveline Kushi arrived in Boston in September 1963 to introduce macrobiotics to that area. Boston, with its many top universities and its long tradition as a cradle for incipient spiritual and ideological movements (such as Transcendentalism and Buddhism in the 1800s) was always a good place to introduce a new teaching and way of life. Moreover, there was now a new and growing group of young people, quite different from the professionals and artists originally attracted to macrobiotics in New York, many of whom had experienced states of heightened sensitivity or altered consciousness through use of psychedelic drugs and the various techniques developed by the human potential movement. They were looking to ground and integrate these experiences into their everyday lives through changes of lifestyle and diet, and to understand these experiences through spiritual teachings and philosophies. Many who studied East Asian spiritual traditions and philosophies found that they often were connected with a vegetarian dietary practice. These people showed great interest in macrobiotics.

In 1965 Michio organized the first East West Institute on Walden Street in Cambridge and began teaching cosmology and cooking to mostly young people. Study houses were started and in mid-1966 Michio began a series of lectures at the Arlington Street Church in Boston; these continued until 1971. The groups were small (only 10-20 people by 1967) but the spirit and camaraderie were strong.

In Cambridge Michio and Aveline lived in a large house, which also served as the first East West Institute and macrobiotic study house. Some 10-12 students also lived in the house. One of the first problems was to find healthful, natural foods at reasonable prices to feed this large group. An informal buying club was established and soon people were making trips to Pennsylvania to buy bulk natural foods from Walnut Acres and the Mennonites (wheat, flour, and oatmeal), and to New York to buy from Howard Rower's Infinity Foods (miso and shoyu), from Japan Foods Corp. (Hatcho miso and other Japanese staples), and from Wing Wing's (a local Chinese grocery). Before long people outside the study house, mainly new students of macrobiotics, asked if they could join the food buying club. Thus in 1965 a small, informal buying club, starting with $500 cash, was set up in the basement of the Kushi house. The bulk foods were divided into small bags, priced, and sold at little or no profit. The operation was seen as a service, not a business. But natural foods were hard to find in those days, so demand grew rapidly and by early 1966 the informal store had outgrown its basement quarters.

In April 1966 Michio and Aveline Kushi started Erewhon, when the basement buying club was moved into a tiny (10-by-20-foot) retail store downstairs at 303-B Newbury Street in Boston. The same foods were sold in the same, informal way, with some new products now starting to be purchased from Chico-San and imported from Lima in Belgium. (Where get miso??) The store was also used for Michio's lectures. Evan Root, a student of the Kushis', helped them to open the store and he managed it until October 1967, when Paul Hawken took over. During this initial period the store was mainly a cracker barrel style operation, with about 200 customers and sales of $20-$30 a day. People came to talk philosophy and swap recipes, whether or not they bought anything. No tofu was sold since there was no refrigeration, but top quality, naturally fermented miso and shoyu (typically fermented for several years to make it rich, thick, and mellow), were very popular.

In February 1968 Evan Root, the first manager of Erewhon, opened Boston's first macrobiotic restaurant. Called Sanae (after Lima Ohsawa's original first name), it was a small place that served, among other things, miso, shoyu, black soybeans, and occasionally tofu. In 1971 Sanae opened another larger branch, which was renamed The Seventh Inn in 1972.

Starting in 1965 and increasingly during the following year Michio began to travel in America, teaching about macrobiotics. In May 1968 William Shurtleff hosted a one-week series of Kushi lectures, workshops, and cooking classes at Stanford University. This was Kushi's first trip to the West Coast. Like Ohsawa and other macrobiotic teachers, Kushi gave of himself selflessly, tirelessly, endlessly. His teaching was well received and eagerly studied.

In October 1967 Paul Hawken took over the management of Erewhon. He later recalled his first visit to the tiny downstairs store, where Evan Root was selling bulk shoyu: "On his left sat a half empty tamari (shoyu) keg with a piece of surgical tubing hanging out. Around him on pine board shelves were lumpy donut bags filled with flours and grains." As Hawken wrote later (East West Journal, Aug. 1973) in "Erewhon, a Biography," the story of the company's colorful and turbulent years, he hoped to expand Erewhon from a small corner store with a trickle of customers, a very limited selection of unusual foods, and a small mail-order business, into a company that would "attempt to provide the renewing and cleansing power of the earth." Part of this original vision of Erewhon was that people would learn to make their own miso and shoyu. Hawken expanded the name to Erewhon Trading Company and in May 1968 incorporated the business, with he (now president) and Aveline each owning 50% of the stock. During the next year sales rose from $1,000 to $9,000 a month and many of the new customers came from outside the macrobiotic community; they wanted whole, natural foods. A small mail-order business was started. Erewhon joined Fred Rohe's Sunset Natural Foods (since 1965 on 9th St. in San Francisco) as America's earliest natural food retail stores. Unlike the then-popular health food stores, no vitamin pills or food supplements were sold.

In early 1968 a customer came into Erewhon and asked: "How do you know the grains are organically grown? How do you know the oil is really cold pressed?" Since no one could answer, Hawken began to make enquiries and found out that many foods were not what they claimed to be. So he set to work developing reliable sources, going to farmers directly, specifying the conditions for organic growing, then guaranteeing to buy the crop. In mid-1968 the first supplier was established, a wheat farmer in North Dakota. Hawken then found a source of soybeans, an insurance salesman named Frank Ford who, one day a week, worked selling organically grown soybeans and wheat out of a boxcar in Deaf Smith County, Texas. This work was greatly expanded in the following years as the demand for organically grown foods increased and the problems with chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers came to be more widely recognized. By 1973 Erewhon had established and contracted with 57 farms in 35 states to provide the company directly with organically grown foods, including a lot of produce. Chico-San had also established a grower of organic rice in California in late 1968, as described later. Thus macrobiotic companies played a pioneering role in helping U.S. companies to start growing foods by organic methods.

In August 1968 Erewhon started to import foods from Japan by correspondence with Mr. Akiyoshi Kazama, introduced by Mr. Kobayashi, a friend of the Kushis'. Kazama then worked for an import/export company called Mitoku, which sold no food at that time. The initial orders contained red miso (made by one of Ohsawa's cronies) and natural shoyu made by Marushima.

In November 1968, on Thanksgiving day, Erewhon moved up and across the street to a much bigger and nicer location at 342 Newbury St. The front of the store was for retail sales and the back was a stock room and wholesale outlet. Daily sales at the start averaged about $250 a day and there were six employees: Roger Hillyard, Bruce McDonald, Bill Tara, Jim Docker, Jean Allison, plus Hawken. Tofu, curded with calcium sulfate and made by a Chinese company in Boston, started to be sold. Tofu curded with nigari was not introduced until after 1973. In March 1969 Hawken left for nine months in Japan to establish import contacts and manufacturing sources there. Hillyard took over as general manager. One year after moving into the new location, Erewhon was doing $35,000 to $40,000 a month in retail and wholesale sales.

During his 1969 trip to Japan, Hawken set up two key import supply companies, Mitoku and Muso Shokuhin (then called Osaka CI, or "Centre Ignoramus"). Traveling with the heads of these companies he visited many food factories, and thus was the first person in the U.S. natural foods and macrobiotic movements to study the traditional processes for making miso and shoyu in Japan. After this trip Erewhon's Japanese imports were greatly expanded, with Hatcho miso and Marushima shoyu being imported directly from the manufacturers. Returning to the U.S. Hawken worked with Bruce Macdonald to open a branch of Erewhon in Los Angeles (called Erewhon West), worked with Fred Rohe to start a trade association called Organic Merchants (OM) (the 1st meeting was in June 1970 on Mt. Shasta in northern California), and began writing pamphlets on natural foods: The Sugar Story, The Oil Story, etc.

The natural foods boom hit America in 1970 and swept Erewhon along with it. A wholesale-retail catalog for Erewhon Trading Co. Inc. dated January 1970, showed the company to be importing and distributing a variety of soyfoods, including black soybeans, natural shoyu (aged 18 months), barley miso, Hatcho miso, moromi (used in making shoyu), sesame miso, and tekka miso, plus two new cookbooklets, Cooking Good Food by Jim Ledbetter and Cooking with Grains and Vegetables by Rebecca Dubawsky. A July catalog added yellow soybeans and rice miso. In July 1970 the rapidly expanding distribution business, having outgrown its retail store, was moved into a large (20,000 square foot) fifth-floor leased brick warehouse at 33 Farnsworth St. (in Boston?). The mail order business was dropped and many new distribution accounts opened. Hawken returned to Erewhon in Boston in the summer of 1970; he described the company and the Boston scene then in his 1973 biography of Erewhon. To expand the vision of Erewhon and keep up with skyrocketing demand, the company began heavy borrowing. Large debts were incurred and, in 1972, some losses, including big losses by Erewhon in Los Angeles. There were major cash flow problems. In 1972 Hawken reported that running Erewhon was a nightmare. In mid-1973 he resigned and sold his 25% ownership back to the company, which was subsequently managed by Bill Garrison, Tyler Smith, Jeff Flasher, and Tom Williams, in that sequence. By 1973 Erewhon was probably the largest and most diversified distributor of natural and organically grown food in the U.S. The company had five truck routes in New England, a net worth of $1 million (Aveline Kushi now owned all of the shares), Boston wholesale sales of $250,000 a month and a staff of 50. The Boston warehouse was distributing to 342 accounts with 200,000 customers. The Erewhon Boston retail store had 10,000 customers. The Los Angeles warehouse distributed to 183 accounts and 75,000 customers and its retail store had 5,000 customers. Miso and shoyu were being imported from Mitoku and Muso Shokuhin. Mechanically expressed soy oil was brought in from California and organically grown soybeans from Carl Garrich in Lone Pine, Arkansas (who also supplied organic brown rice).

By the late 1960s the strong interest in natural foods and macrobiotics developing across America, springing out of the new consciousness and counterculture, gave rise to a a host of small natural food retail stores, macrobiotic and otherwise. These popped up like mushrooms in towns and cities. A number of the earlier successful stores grew into distributors following the models established by and with help from Erewhon and Chico-San. Erewhon set up distributors in Los Angeles (Erewhon West) and Toronto, Canada (later Manna). Other macrobiotic food distribution companies followed suit: Eden Organic Foods in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Nov. 1969, as a retail store), Food for Life (which was started in 1970 by Bill Tara as a retail store on the 10th floor of a Chicago office building), Janus in Seattle (1971, by Gearhart and Rankin, formerly of Spiral Foods), Essene in Philadelphia (Feb. 1971, by Denny and Howard Waxman), Laurelbrook in Maryland (Aug. 1971, by Rod and Margy Coates), Ceres in Colorado Springs (1973, by Frank Calapeno), and The Well in San Jose (1971, by Bruce Macdonald and Phil Parenti / Parente). These macrobiotic distributors had a strong influence on the numerous other non-macrobiotic natural food distributors, such as Lifestream (started in 1969 as a retail store), Westbrae in Berkeley, California (1970, by Bob Gerner), Shadowfax (1971, by Charlie Smail in Binghamton, upstate New York), and Tree of Life (May 1971, by Irwin Carasso in St. Augustine, Florida). These were all pioneers.

In December 1973 Hawken, having left Erewhon, arranged a meeting in Toronto attended by representatives of eight macrobiotic distributing companies to discuss cooperation in the industry, an industry newsletter, and the possibilities of establishing a trade association of natural food distributors.

Erewhon was the largest company at the meeting. As the exclusive representative for both Muso and Mitoku in the U.S., they had tight control over Japanese imports. The group held four more meetings prior to late 1975 and attendance at meetings grew to 14 companies, including most of the major natural food distributors at the time except Chico-San . At the Boston meeting in May 1975 Michio Kushi offered to help any company send representatives to Japan to study traditional production of miso and shoyu. The Natural Foods Distributors Association had 13 members by June 1975, but unfortunately it never got off the ground. There was no strong leader to carry through on the project, the companies were unwilling to provide the funding to pay a director, and there were no clearly agreed-on goals and projects. Nevertheless by 1977 ten macrobiotic food distributors were servicing nearly 10,000 retailers and 300 restaurants in North America. All carried a line of soyfoods similar to that of Erewhon.

No publication in the macrobiotic movement played a greater role in introducing soyfoods to North America than the East West Journal, which commenced publication in January 1971 as a small-circulation biweekly. Its stated purpose was "to explore the unity underlying apparently opposite values: Oriental and Occidental, traditional and modern, visionary and practical." It published many of the earliest and the best articles about traditional Japanese soyfoods, including a cover story on miso and "Recipes from The Book of Miso" (Aveline Kushi 1971), "Making Miso in America" (B.W. 1971, a visit to the Norio Miso Co. in San Francisco), "Making Tofu" (Wood 1972), and "Erewhon Visits a Soy Sauce Factory " (1973, about Marushima Shoyu in Japan). From October 1975 until December 1981 the Journal ran 11 major articles on soyfoods (plus scattered soyfoods recipes). By 1982 it was a handsome nationwide monthly magazine with a circulation of over 70,000 (20-25% of whom called themselves macrobiotics) and a readership of 4 to 5 times that many. Other periodicals, with a much smaller circulation limited mostly to macrobiotic readers include Order of the Universe, Macrobiotic Messenger, Macrobiotic Review, Macroscope, GOMF News, and Macromuse.

In 1972 a small publishing company called Autumn Press was founded in Tokyo, Japan by Nahum Stiskin, a student of macrobiotics from Boston. In 1974 he translated and published Lima Ohsawa's The Art of Just Cooking, containing over 25 Japanese soyfoods recipes. The book was quite popular in America. In 1975 Autumn Press published Shurtleff and Aoyagi"s The Book of Tofu, and in 1976 their Book of Miso. In 1978 Japan Publications issued Aveline Kushi's long awaited How to Cook with Miso. These books could never have been published without the macrobiotic interest in and market for soyfoods.

The Boston macrobiotic community began to expand its activities by setting up a variety of educational institutions. The East West Foundation, established in Boston in 1972, has held hundreds of seminars on macrobiotics in which tens of thousands of people have participated. Since 1974 the highlight of these activities has been the Amherst Summer Program, attended by 300-400 people each year to study all aspects of macrobiotics. Starting in 1976 East West Centers began to open in major cities throughout North America. There, too, all aspects of macrobiotics are taught. In the fall of 1978 the Kushi Institute opened in Boston to offer an in-depth course of studies in all aspects of macrobiotics. The Institute is presently planning to expand into a full-fledged college for macrobiotic studies. In 1982 a World Macrobiotic Directory was published, which showed that in the U.S. there were 22 East West Centers or Foundations and six other macrobiotic teaching centers, while in foreign countries there were 20 East West Centers and Foundations and two Kushi Institutes. There was also a network of very active macrobiotic study houses in Boston. At all of these institutions, soyfoods (especially miso, shoyu, tempeh, and tofu) have played an important part in the program of studies and classes. Michio periodically traveled to many of these centers, both in the U.S. and abroad, to teach.

As the macrobiotic movement developed in America, soyfoods gained in popularity. The use of tofu increased steadily as the daily practice of the dietary philosophy became less narrow and rigid. In the early days, some purists had considered tofu to be too yin to touch; many of these, to their anguish, developed an enormous craving for it and ate it on the sly. In about 1973 the Erewhon retail store had visited a Chinese tofu shop, Yah Kee on Tyler Street in Boston, and convinced them to use nigari (which Erewhon would provide) as a curding agent to make natural nigari tofu. The owner consented and this was probably the first nigari tofu made in America. Macrobiotic followers preferred nigari tofu, since the yang nigari (made from unrefined sea salt) was thought to balance the relatively yin soybeans and water. Yet although tofu was used more and more, it never fully outgrew the stigma of not being a "whole food" (since the okara was discarded) and of being too yin for use as a daily protein source or staple. For some it was a food to be used only occasionally or as a special treat. According to macrobiotic philosophy, the best misos for daily use were barley miso and Hatcho miso, which were more yang than rice miso. Thus the former came to be widely used. Because of macrobiotics, many Americans, including tens of thousands who did not eat a macrobiotic diet, began to take a deep interest in shoyu, especially natural shoyu, which was imported in large quantities from Japan, and which most practitioners of macrobiotics called "tamari" until the early 1980s, when the misnomer was finally straightened out (see Chapter 36). Natural shoyu, made from whole soybeans and incubated at the natural temperature of the environment for 18 months, was considered to be the best and to have medicinal value, as was miso made in the same way. Great interest was shown in the details of the methods of manufacture, history, nutritional value, and flavor of fine natural shoyu and miso. Starting in mid-1980 tempeh started to become very popular in Boston and, although it was not a Japanese food, it was prized in macrobiotic diets for its rich, meaty flavor and texture and its high vitamin B-12 content. One of its foremost proponents was Aveline Kushi, who introduced it in many cooking classes and wrote a laudatory article, "My Favorite Tempeh Recipes" for the East West Journal (August 1981). Thom Leonard, founder of the Ohio Miso Co., gave numerous classes in Boston on how to make tempeh, miso, natto, and tofu. Tempeh cutlets, burgers, and mock tuna salads were popular in Boston sandwich shops and restaurants.

A number of America's early and prominent manufacturers of soyfoods were strongly influenced by macrobiotics, most by the movement in Boston. Many of these located their businesses near Boston or on the East Coast. The first three non-Oriental miso companies in America were all founded by students of macrobiotics: Thom Leonard of Ohio Miso Co. (1979), John Belleme (and associates Sandy Pukel, Barry Evans, and Marty Roth) of American Miso Co. in North Carolina (1981), and Christian and Gaella Elwell of South River Miso Co. in Massachusetts (1982). Tofu makers included John Paino and Bob Bergwall of Nasoya in Massachusetts (1978) and Roberto Marocchesi of The Bridge in Connecticut (1981). Macrobiotic tempeh pioneers included Michael Morearty of Hi-Pro Tempeh and Lucio Armellin of 21st Century Soyfoods, both in Massachusetts (1981). The first Caucasian natto maker in the Western world, Charlie Kendall, began his craft working in his home in Boston in 1976.

From the mid-1960s until 1970 all of the natural shoyu imported by Erewhon had been made by Marushima Shoyu, located on the island of Marushima near Osaka. There was a growing suspicion by 1970 that the product was not made by the natural methods the company claimed it was; a visit to the plant by Shurtleff and Bob Gerner in April 1974 confirmed the suspicion. Thus Erewhon sought another source. Mr. Kazama of Mitoku contacted Mr. Sasaki at Sendai Miso Shoyu, and he agreed to revive their traditional process (not used for many years) of making the shoyu from whole organically grown soybeans (imported from the U.S.) and incubating it in wooden vats at the natural temperature of the environment for two full summers. This was the famous Josen natural shoyu, eventually imported by many natural food distributors in the U.S.

During the mid and late 1970s Erewhon Trading Co. continued to grow by leaps and bounds. In 1977 sales were $8-10 million and there were 177 employees. The management was kept within the macrobiotic community, which meant that people relatively inexperienced at business were running an operation much more complex than they had had experience with. There was a rapid turnover in top management because of low wages, inability to participate in the company's ownership, and general "burnout." In early 1978 the distribution company expanded into a huge warehouse facility at 3 East Street in Cambridge. The move, new rent, and new trucks were very expensive. To try to finance the new expansion Erewhon greatly expanded its product line to include many foods that were macrobiotic "taboos," including frozen meat and vitamin pills. In November 1979 New Age reported in "From Alternative to Big Business" how the company found itself plagued with labor and financial crises. Still Erewhon kept expanding and by 1981 the company had annual gross sales estimated at $16-$17 million. Their 1981 catalog listed some 4,000 products, including a full line of imported and domestically made soyfoods, delivered to thousands of food stores, including a growing number of supermarkets. Wholesale value figures for the year ending June 1979 showed sales of shoyu at $200,000, tofu $110,000, and miso $100,000. Tofu sales were reported to be growing there at a rate equaled only by herbs (Whole Foods, Oct. 1979). Five types of miso were sold in packages or bulk: brown rice, red, Hatcho, barley, and finger lickin' natto miso. But beneath the surface of this runaway expansion, all was not well. On 10 November 1981 Erewhon, with debts totaling $4.3 million, filed for a Chapter 11 "reorganization" under the U.S. bankruptcy laws. The main problems had apparently been poor management, too rapid expansion, and decline in product quality. Then on 2 April 1982 Erewhon, including all of the Kushi's stock, was purchased for $1.3 million by Ronald Rosetti, the owner and president of Nature Food Centers, a chain of 85 health food stores that sold mostly vitamin pills and other dietary supplements--an ironic outcome indeed. Kushi was retained as a consultant and member of the board of directors. The company vacated their present location at 3 East St. and moved to Wilmington, Massachusetts; it was a completely separate entity from Nature Food Centers. Erewhon subcontracted with other companies to make its former foods under its strict supervision. Rosetti owned the three Erewhon retail stores. Erewhon sold its products only to major distributors, not to retail stores, and they were sold at Nature Food Centers. Strangely, the East West Journal made no mention of these major transformations. Was Erewhon a failure? Clearly not. It was a social, philosophical, and economic experiment which had pioneered a new concept in foods that had caught on and was prospering. It had been a major factor in introducing natural foods and soyfoods to America. Erewhon had served its purpose well.

Development of Macrobiotics in New York. After Herman Aihara and the Chico group left New York in 1961 and the Kushis left in 1963, something of a void was left. In 1964 or 1965 Howard Rower established Infinity Foods, a macrobiotic and natural foods warehouse, that was a prime wholesale source for many of the early groups and students. He imported from Tokyo CI, which "guaranteed" the foods quasi-medicinal effects. The food was of top quality.

A key figure in New York was Michel Abehsera, a young Jewish French Moroccan, who began the macrobiotic diet and studies with Ohsawa in 1961. In the summer of 1964 he arrived with his wife in New York from Paris. For the next year they ran a small but popular macrobiotic restaurant in their home in the West Village. From 1964-1965 the owner of the Paradox restaurant allowed them to run it as their style of macrobiotic restaurant one day a week, Monday, the day it was usually closed. Again their restaurant was packed and very popular. In 1965 they moved uptown to 81st Street and Lexington Avenue and opened the East West Institute, where Michel lectured two nights a week and his wife gave cooking classes and sold macrobiotic foods. In 1966-67 they opened the restaurant L'Epicerie at 2nd Avenue and 57th Street, a beautiful place which became immensely popular. Macrobiotics was given a touch of elegance. In about 1967 Abehsera wrote his first macrobiotic cookbook, which he entitled The Cook is Yang. When he returned from Europe he was surprised to find that University Books had published it with the title Zen Macrobiotic Cooking; a mass market paperback edition was published by Avon in 1970. Abehsera's writing style was charming and engaging, and his recipes were more Western, less Oriental, than previous macrobiotic books, with an elegant yet simple French touch. In 1969 the Abehseras toured the entire U.S. in a Volkswagen bus, travelling 9,500 miles and lecturing in 30 cities on macrobiotics. This was the first such tour in the U.S. and with it the movement grew, as did knowledge of miso and natural shoyu. In late 1969 the Abehseras moved to Binghamton in upstate New York. Michel continued teaching and wrote Cooking for Life, which was published in 1970 in hardcover by Swann House and paperback by Avon. Like the first book, it continued many recipes for miso and shoyu. In 1970 he wrote an English version of Kervran's Biological Transmutation. In 1972 he invited N. Muramoto to lecture in Binghamton on macrobiotic healing. Using notes from the lectures and adding some of his own experiences, he edited and compiled Muramoto's Healing Ourselves published by Avon/Swan House in 1973. The book continued to sell well into the 1980s. Abehsera played an important role in disseminating the macrobiotic teachings, westernizing them, and adding a sorely needed touch of humor and happiness to a movement that constantly threatened to get too serious and too rigid.

Development of Macrobiotics in California. We saw earlier how a group of people interested in macrobiotics had arrived in Chico from New York in early 1961 and started Chico-San, a macrobiotic food company. To help sales and the spread of macrobiotics, they started a lecture circuit. Chico-San was clearly one of the first of America's "new wave" of natural food companies, having been started three years before Erewhon. It pioneered in getting macrobiotic natural food products into health food conventions and out to large regional health-food distributors and retail food stores, thus making it easier for later companies to follow in the same footsteps. To some extent, it served as a model for later companies as well, and most key Erewhon people visited Chico-San during Erewhon's early days. Yet Chico-San remained somewhat of a "loner" in the subsequent burgeoning natural foods movement. By 1965 Chico-San's rice cakes and other products were being sold at more than 150 California outlets and the company had invented its own method of making rice syrup, a natural sweetener. In 1968 Chico-San established a subsidiary company, Spiral Foods, to handle sales of their new Feather River brand of products to the grocery trade. This subsidiary was merged back into Chico-San in 1976.

Since 1963 Chico-San's principals had been searching for a local farmer who would grow rice for them using organic methods. In 1968, at the same time Hawken was signing up Erewhon's first organic wheat growers, Kennedy signed a contract with Lundberg Brothers of Wehah Farm in Richvale, California (just south of Chico), guaranteeing to purchase all of their first organic rice crop. There was considerable risk on both sides since the Lundbergs were not sure how to deal with the inevitable weeds, insects, and low yields, and Kennedy had to guarantee that the farmers would not lose money in the case of a severely short crop. Nevertheless the experiment proved successful. The first crop was harvested in 1969. Chico-San had a five-year exclusive right to all the new rice. Yet a conflict soon developed between Chico-San and Erewhon. Already upset at Erewhon for taking away their New York market, Chico-San refused to sell Erewhon any of the new organic rice. So Erewhon established their own organic rice grower, Carl Garrich of Lone Pine Farms in Arkansas. Then it turned out that Chico-San had contracted for far more rice than they could sell, so the five-year exclusive was rendered null and void, and many new distributors were able to buy the Lundberg's rice.

Chico-San had been a major importer and distributor of miso and shoyu from Japan since the company started. (The first?) In 1963 Mr. Junsei Yamazaki had emigrated to Chico from Japan to make miso and natural shoyu for Chico-San. After graduating from Tokyo Agricultural University, Yamazaki had been a rice farmer in Japan for 17 years. In 1964 he began his first experimental production of miso and shoyu in Chico. His first large batches were made in mid-1970. By September 1972 Yamazaki had made three or four 55-gallon vats of miso (400 pounds of miso in each vat) and about the same amount of natural shoyu. However in that month a tragedy struck. A new rice machine shorted out, blew up, and started a fire that totally destroyed the Chico-San warehouse, with all its miso, shoyu, and most of its other foods. Eventually Chico-San moved into a new factory on First Street in Chico; a koji room was constructed and Yamazaki did make a small amount of miso again. But as Chico-San had been out of business for 7 months due to the fire, immediate profits were badly needed, so the long term miso and shoyu products had to be discontinued. Moving to Washington state, Yamazaki taught miso making to small groups of students. After the fire Chico-San expanded its imports of miso and shoyu (Lima Soy Sauce) from Japan. Chico-San still hopes to be able someday to have Yamazaki make his superior quality miso and shoyu for them. In late 1983 he moved back to northern California.

The work of teaching and developing educational institutions continued to be active. The lecture circuit started in the mid-1960s was kept active, as was publication of the Macrobiotic Monthly, started in New York. In 1968 (No. 5), for example, Aihara translated and published the account written by Dr. S. Akizuki of Nagasaki, Japan, of using miso to treat tuberculosis and atomic radiation exposure. In 1970, largely as a result of FDA scrutiny of relationships between food companies and educational programs, Aihara and Kennedy established the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation (GOMF) at 1471 Tenth Avenue in San Francisco to continue educational activities separately from Chico-San. Aihara became director of GOMF and Kennedy of Chico-San. Also in 1970 the first of the popular macrobiotic summer camps (held annually by Herman and Cornellia since 1963) took place at French Meadows in the Tahoe National Forest, where it continued to be held thereafter. That year they also embarked on their first yearly 20,000-mile nationwide tour teaching macrobiotic philosophy and cookery. In 1972 Herman wrote and GOMF published Miso and Tamari, the first booklet on this subject in the West. It contained the first recipes in the West for making miso and miso pickles at home; recipes for making barley, rice, and Hatcho miso were given but it was suggested that good students should stop using rice miso after several years, as it was a little too yin. Cornellia edited The Do of Cooking (1972). In 1974 a revised and expanded version of the book, entitled Soybean Diet, was published. It contained extensive information on miso and shoyu, plus a small amount of information on tofu, okara, and natto. In 1973 the Aiharas established the Vega Institute, a residential program for macrobiotic studies in San Francisco. Then in 1974 it and GOMF were moved to Oroville, a town southeast of Chico, where the Aiharas have continued their work, together with their students. Their cooking classes, lecture tours (which included trips abroad) and other publications such as The Chico-San Cookbook and the Calendar Cookbook, each of which contains numerous soyfoods recipes, have done much to popularize these foods in the West. As of 1982 Herman was writing a number of works, including a biography of Ohsawa.

Over the years Chico-San grew steadily. In 1978 they expanded into a new facility in Chico. A large magazine ad campaign began in 1981 and prominent mention was made of soyfoods: Lima Soy Sauce, miso, black soybeans, barley and rice miso, koji (for making miso), nigari (for making tofu), tekka miso, and real Lima Tamari (wheat free). The soy sauce was said to be aged for two years.

In June 1971 Noboru Muramoto emigrated to America from Japan and lived with the Aiharas in San Francisco at GOMF. In Japan he had studied Chinese literature and philosophy at Tohoku University and Kanazawa University, then began his own study and practice of herbal medicine. He had begun studying Ohsawa's writings in 1942, then studied with Ohsawa after 1964, while running a family business cleaning the cotton from futons. In 1973 he gave a series of lectures in New York which were published that year as the popular book, Healing Ourselves (Avon/Swan House). Many uses of miso and natural shoyu were given; soybeans and tofu were not recommended in the book, except that tofu was used in making poultice-like "plasters" for use in healing. In 1974 Muramoto started Rising Sun, a macrobiotic storefront containing the Herb Tea Co. in San Francisco. Here he gave classes on making miso and shoyu. In November 1976 he acquired Top of the World Ranch on 140 acres of land near Glen Ellen, California, and established Asunaro Institute, a residential program of macrobiotic studies. He also published a newsletter "Asunaro Notes." At Asunaro he set up a regular shop for making miso and shoyu, complete with a nice koji incubation room. Many unique and American-style misos were developed, including some made with peanuts, garbanzos (chickpeas), azuki beans, and even natto. A number of Americans apprenticed at the miso-shoyu school. A nice article about the school, "Making Miso in America," appeared in the East West Journal (Lachman 1978). In March 1979 Muramoto displayed his miso and shoyu equipment and samples of his products at the famous New Earth Exposition in San Francisco. He also sold these products at Rising Sun, and some customers swore that they were the best in America.

Nutritional Views of Macrobiotic Diet. Following the death of Beth Ann Simon in 1965 and well into the 1970s it was common for nutritionists and doctors writing articles in scientific journals to refer to the macrobiotic diet as an example of an extreme and unhealthy, even dangerous diet. Among many health professionals, the diet soon acquired the image of the epitome of such an undesirable diet. Surprisingly, leaders of the macrobiotic movement did little to counter this image (even though many who propagated it knew relatively little about macrobiotics), nor did they do much to invite scientific enquiry into the nutritional value of the diet or its effects on those who practiced it. They just kept teaching.

The two earliest known scientific studies on the effects of a macrobiotic diet were by Sacks and co-workers from the Harvard Medical School and Boston City Hospital. The 1974 report showed that the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of vegetarian macros was significantly lower than that of typical Americans. The second study on 133 people who had practiced a macrobiotic diet for an average of three years showed that mean cholesterol levels were only 68% of those found in typical Americans, low-density lipoproteins were 62%, very-low density lipoproteins were 69%, triglyceride levels were 69%, mean body weight was 73%, and skin fold thickness was 35% of the norm. These low blood pressure levels and strikingly low plasma lipid levels were very impressive, and helped to give the macrobiotic diet some respectability in professional health care circles. The next important scientific study published in 1979 by Dwyer and co-workers of the New England Medical Center Hospital raised some serious questions about the diet. It showed that diets of preschool macrobiotic children in Boston were strongly deficient in vitamin D (average intake was only 8% of the RDA), calcium (40% of the RDA), and phosphorus (63% of the RDA), and for each nutrient the intake of the macros was far below that of children from other vegetarian groups. Two macro children had rickets, a rare disease in America, and the scientists were surprised that there was not more evidence of rickets and bowed legs; they urged leaders of the macrobiotic movement to encourage their students to increase their intake of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. No coverage of these highly significant findings was given in the East West Journal or any other macrobiotic publication that we know of.

These studies point to both the strong points (low blood lipids) and weak points (low mineral intake) of typical macrobiotic diets. More general criticisms of the diet, from various quarters, included the following: The philosophical basis of the diet, that the balance of potassium and sodium salts in the diet was the prime determinant of health, was a dubious and as yet untested hypothesis, which would be very difficult to test. Thus the diet had no basis in established nutritional science, and did not seem particularly interested in developing one. Macrobiotics failed or refused to incorporate into its dietary philosophy and teaching large portions of the body of Western nutritional and medical knowledge established by reproducible experimental research during a period of more than 100 years. These concerns included minimum and recommended daily allowances for key nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, etc., which macrobiotics rarely discussed. By denigrating the value of dairy products (the sine qua non in diets recommended by most Western nutritionists yet not traditionally used in East Asia) the macrobiotic diet sharply conflicted with Western standards and made it difficult for followers to obtain adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D. The macrobiotic diet was typically very high in salt, although this began to decrease from the mid-1970s. Many people interested in natural and health foods were surprised to see how many macrobiotics (following Michio Kushi) openly and without apology smoked tobacco and drank beer (alcohol from fermented grains was held to be better than that from fermented fruits). Some maintained that the real value of the macrobiotic message was the return to simpler, traditional vegetarian diets based on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and few refined foods; the yin-yang philosophy was largely dispensable.

Yet in stressing the importance of diet as a primary factor in good health, urging the return to traditional grain-centered diets, pointing out the dangers of excess consumption of sugar, meat, alcohol, drugs, and food additives, and in other areas discussed earlier under Ohsawa's dietary teachings, macrobiotics played a pioneering role in American dietary reform from 1960 on. The influential Dietary Goals published in 1977 by the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs (McGovern Committee; see Chapter 22), recommended dietary changes strikingly similar to those recommended by macrobiotics. This publication lent considerable prestige to macrobiotic and other traditional diets. By the mid-1970s one could discern the beginnings of a shift in attitude toward macrobiotics by professionals. Physicians such as Frank Sacks and Edward Kass at Harvard and ?? Castelli, Director of the Framingham Heart Study endorsed macrobiotics. Dr. Mendelsohn (sp??), somewhat of a maverick physician but former head of the Illinois medical licensing board, strongly supported macrobiotics in two books, numerous interviews, and a newsletter. Nathan Pritikin, author of very popular books on diet and health, and head of a clinic that was very successful in treating degenerative diseases by diet, used a regimen similar to macrobiotics and spoke well of macrobiotics.

But it was miraculous cancer cures that cast macrobiotics into the national limelight starting in 1980. That year, after about a year of eating a strict macrobiotic diet and receiving consultations from Michio Kushi, Dr. Anthony Sattilaro, a physician and then chief administrator at Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia, experienced an almost miraculous complete recovery from terminal cancer that had riddled his body. The dramatic story was published in East West Journal (March 1980 and March 1981), the Saturday Evening Post (Aug. 1981/Sept 1980??), and LIFE magazine (Aug. 1982 1981??), then eventually in a best-selling book Recalled by Life (Sattilaro 1982). Sensationalist tabloids such as the National Enquirer also picked up the story. Eventually millions of people read of Satillaro's cancer cure. Macrobiotic centers nationwide were deluged with enquiries, new macrobiotic books were published on cancer and diet, the Kushi's did tours speaking on the subject, and for the first time America stopped to listen. Scientific tests using the diet for cancer patients were being run at the time of this writing. All of this greatly increased the respectability of macrobiotic and traditional diets, and soyfoods benefited directly by the halo effect.

Macrobiotics in Europe and Latin America. In Europe the first company to produce, import, and distribute macrobiotic foods was Lima N.V. (Ltd.), started in 1959 by Pierre Gevaert and friends at Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium. They made naturally fermented miso and shoyu from 1959-1966, then resumed production again in January 1981 after selling off excess inventories. In late January 1981 Lima re-commenced making miso and by the year's end they were producing 1,200 kg of barley miso a month in Belgium and France. They planned to make 800 liters of natural shoyu a month in France from March 1982?? In these products they used organically grown soybeans, barley, and wheat, plus spring water. Soyfoods listed in their October 1981 catalog were soy flour, shoyu, tamari, Hatcho miso, barley miso, rice miso, instant miso soup, soymilk, and tofu. Other major macrobiotic distributors in Europe included Harmony and Sunwheel in England, Wagon Wheel in Ireland, Manna in the Netherlands, De Brandnetel in Belgium, Satori in Italy, and Urtekram in Denmark.

After visits by Michio Kushi, East West Centers started throughout Europe--there were 14 in 1981, including Kushi Institutes in London, Amsterdam, and Paris. Kushi traveled often and widely in Europe. Kushi international seminars were offered in major cities, and a European Union for educational activities reached many people. Each country had at least one macrobiotic publication in the national language and some countries had Japanese macrobiotic teachers (e.g. Jiro Nakamura in Germany). In the spring of 1981 Le Compas in France did a long cover story on soyfoods.

In Europe, much more than in America, the soyfoods movement has been pioneered by macrobiotic soycrafters. As of April 1982 the following were active. In the Netherlands Sjon Welters made tempeh, taught about soyfoods and inspired many, Witte Wonder and De Morgenstond were tofu shops, Jakso (Peter Dekker) made the first tempeh from organic soybeans, and Manna did much creative marketing. In France Mr. Sakaguchi and Francois Hayman were early tofu makers in Paris, Bernard Storup and Jean de Preneuf joined to form Soy SARL (later renamed Societe Soy), a modern tofu company, and Jean Luc Alonso of Traditions du Grain introduced tempeh to France. In Denmark Per Fruergaard started Tofu Denmark, the country's first. In Great Britain John Sandler taught tofu, tempeh, and miso making at the Kushi Institute and made tempeh at the East West Center, Paul Jones ran an innovative tofu shop, and Jane O'Brien did education and writing in Ireland. In Belgium Jonathan made tofu and soymilk (they were the biggest macrobiotic food producer in Europe), and small tofu shops were run by de Brandnetel and Seven Arrows. The work of Lima NV with miso and shoyu was very active. In Portugal Unimave made tofu and soymilk. In Switzerland Verena Krieger, Hans Opplinger, and Restaurant Sesam did pioneering work with tofu and tempeh. In Italy Gilberto Bianchini introduced tofu. The combined effect of all these and many other efforts by macros interested in soyfoods had a very large effect in introducing soyfoods to Europe.

Macrobiotics has been active in South America since 1954, when Ohsawa's first students Tomio Kikuchi and Flavio Zanatta started work there. Restaurants and cooking classes have helped introduce soyfoods. This is seen as a region of great future potential.

A Major Contribution. The International macrobiotic movement has played a very significant role in introducing soyfoods, natural foods, and organic agricultural techniques to the Western world. Numerous soycrafters in both the U.S. and Europe have been strongly influenced by macrobiotics, as have several leaders of the movement on both continents. Before the advent of macrobiotics in the West, virtually no Westerners were eating traditional East Asian soyfoods, except for a little soy sauce in Oriental cuisine. These foods were considered interesting oddities, but macros?? made them widely available, educated the public about them, developed a market for them, felt they were an important part of a healthful or healing diet, and were the first Westerners to eat them regularly. Kotzsch (1981) estimated that there were perhaps 20,000 followers of macrobiotics in the U.S. Those who have improved their diets and heard of soyfoods via macrobiotics are probably a million or more. The contribution of the macrobiotic movement in introducing soyfoods to the West continues to grow.

Part 1