|by Stephen Hoog|
Many years ago, I began studying the Macrobiotic way of living and eating which was embedded in a comprehensive world view. Fundamental to the philosophy was the idea of life force or chi energy. Every food we ate had not only a nutritional effect but an energetic effect as well. Each type of cooking or preparation had a different effect and each type of fuel used did as well. By understanding our imbalances we could choose the right food, the right preparation and the right fuel to create balance within our bodies and a harmonious balance with the natural environment. It was an alchemical way of viewing nourishment.
Fuels used for cooking were very important. Macrobiotic teachers emphasized gas cooking as the best because the energetic effect was positive. Wood cooking on a stove or campfire was actually better — warming to the core and calming and centering for the body. But in modern times it was not as practical for most people. Electric was not recommended because electrical and magnetic fields generated affected the cook and the food — possibly creating a subtle nervousness and hyperactivity. Microwave was out because of how it affected the molecules of the food. Direct solar was not mentioned much probably due to a lack of availability but was considered OK for food prep.
We need a mix of innovative research and consultation with those who are holders of ancient wisdom…to come up with solutions that are life-enhancing rather than energy-depleting.
With the coming climate crisis coming to a head environmentalists are promoting ways to quickly reduce CO2 emissions in an attempt to slow climate change. One of the proposals by The Rocky Mountain Institute is to mandate all-electric buildings, with solar units providing the majority of the electricity.
This creates a conundrum for those of us who are alchemists. We value the quality of vibration from cooking fuel to create healing food that creates harmony and well being as well as being delicious. Ethnic restaurants such as Mexican, Chinese, Southeast-Asian, and Indian are resisting efforts to make over everything to electric. I’m sure they are concerned that this change will affect the quality of the food that they produce and could affect their ability to survive as businesses. Whether they are concerned about the healing properties of food cooked on gas I cannot say for sure, but traditional cultures around the world often have a better sense of what effect the traditional methods of preparation have on people’s health.
The use of a fossil fuel like gas does not go too far back in time in terms of traditional methods of healing. Wood cooking has a longer history. But wood like gas has its negative effects on the environment. Michio Kushi, Macrobiotic teacher for many years, has stated numerous times that it is almost impossible to heal using electric stoves. So if gas and wood are generating problems and electric is not good from a health standpoint, that leaves direct solar for max healing and least impact. Yet that is not practical at this time for most people. Solar works for boiling and baking but styles like sautee, nishime, and pressure cooking aren’t as doable. This reduces the scope of energetic forms to effect different healing properties.
Research has been done on the effects of electromagnetic radiation in homes and its effect on human beings. There are mixed results. Magnetic fields may interrupt communications across cell membranes, slow the rate at which free radicals are recombined in the body, and suppress the production of melatonin. Kushi felt that regular cooking at an electric stove might create imbalances in the organs near the stove like genitals, bladder and intestines. Few studies show the effect on the food that is cooked on an electric stove. It may be years before we know the full story.
Magnetic radiation is measured in Gauss. Recent studies have shown microwave ovens emit about 264mG at about one foot distance, flourescent lights 56.7mG, space heaters 75mG, and electric ranges 28.6mG. Magnetic fields from house wiring can also be generated by poor grounding and wiring practices as well as by appliances and computers. High-voltage electric transmission lines and local distribution lines add to the total. Now we have ‘5G’ coming into play. With human beings bathing themselves in electrical and magnetic fields, it is important that we do the best we can to minimize their effects. A key green building recommendation is to minimize electric and magnetic fields from alternating current (AC) and preserve the natural DC magnetic field of the earth.
Cooking electrically is just one more addition to the bath of electromagnetic radiation. This might not be necessary, if other forms of emissions like automobile, large corporate waste, and meat industry methane production were reduced drastically. If we could transform into a regenerative agricultural system this would help sequester CO2. Direct solar units might be developed which might be able to perform a variety of cooking styles. If the emphasis was on these things, then some gas and wood fuel might be fine.
It seems as though the dominant culture has created a system which is causing self destruction and one of the proposed solutions (all-electric buildings) seems to do likewise. We need a mix of innovative research and consultation with those who are holders of ancient wisdom concerning chi — life force energy — to come up with solutions that are life-enhancing rather than energy-depleting. We probably should be living in yurts, teepees, wigwams and other natural ‘primitive’ forms of housing and using fewer appliances, cell phones, TV’s, and computers. We should be lying on the earth, walking barefoot on the ground, meditating in sacred spaces, dowsing for negative and positive energy lines before building, forest bathing, doing yoga, tai chi, and chi gong exercises, and absorbing earth’s healing magnetic fields so we can make better decisions.
Steve is a Macrobiotic Counselor and Shiatsu practitioner. He does Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage, Wild Food Walks, and offers Permaculture Workshops.
This is another great example of how everything is connected in the web of life. We can’t solve for only one variable and ignore others that may be less visible but important for our health.
As we explore solutions, though, let’s not forget that natural gas is a major source of both greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution.