Today, Vibrant Wellness Journal welcomes back Jin Hirata, a Japanese Macrobiotic chef and nutritionist from New York. Check out Jin’s previous post here, and learn more on his website, Whole Life with Jin.
In my country, there is this old saying, Shin do fu ji (身土不二). It literally means “Our body and the soil (or land, earth) are not two.” This saying teaches us to eat foods grown where you live so you can live in harmony with the environment. Foods from various climates and environments have unique chemical compositions and energetic qualities. As crops take in nutrients from the soil and water, breath in the air, and receive the solar energy it produces food that is unique to each geographical environment. We are all a part of the environment.
So, foods grown in certain environments are most suitable for people living in the same or similar environments. For example, much of the produce grown in tropical climates contains more potassium and sugar than those grown in North East, which is more ideal for people living in that particular climate to keep them cool and relaxed under the intense sun. Foods such as bananas, pineapples, mangoes, papayas, avocados and coconuts help the people to cope with their unique weather since they have natural cooling, relaxing, loosening effects on the body (yin energy).
But if you live in a more temperate climate, with four seasons including a cold winter (including North East, Northern Europe or East Asia), eating those foods regularly may not be suitable, especially in wintertime, as these foods do not help us cope with freezing temperatures. Instead, try to include warming foods like bean soup, squashes or root vegetables grown in your regional climate. Save the tropical fruit salad for the summertime!
However, I’m not suggesting eating exclusively local and seasonal foods. For many of us this is simply not practical. But it is a good idea to eat local and seasonal foods as much as you can, and save those foods grown in very different climates for special occasions. Eating local and seasonal foods is a good idea not just for your health, but also for so many other reasons. Produce that is locally grown and is seasonal appropriate is likely fresher, better tasting, less expensive, and creates less of a carbon footprint. It’s more sustainable to eat this way!
Having said that, the weather in my region (New York) is becoming more like Hawaii as the seasons change. We now have many opportunities to have fun and enjoy good foods with family and friends. And to celebrate this changing of the seasons, here are some recipes using topical ingredients with a “Macrobiotic Yin Yang” touch.
As I mentioned, tropical foods tend to be higher in potassium and sugar than human body may need. We need a healthy balance of sodium and potassium. From energetic point of view, they are “strong yin” foods, which can make us “yin excess” when regularly or overly consumed. We need a good balance of both yin and yang, not one in excess. Here are some tips to balancing yin-yang energy in your foods:
- Sprinkle a bit of sea salt (sodium/yang) on tropical fruits (potassium/yin) when eaten raw (yin). This helps the yin-yang balance and also enhances the flavor.
- Cook or prepare tropical ingredients (potassium/yin) with some seasonings such as miso, soy sauce or ume vinegar (sodium/yang). These foods make tropical fruits more digestible, and have many health additional health benefits.
And tune in next week for some Macro-tropical recipes from Chef Jin Hirata!