and the Environment


by  Simon Brown

and the Environment


by  Simon Brown

An exploration of how we can reduce climate change, extinction, pollution and waste through our food choices, preparation and cooking.

Humans are part of nature and nature flows through humans. Therefore, any health choices need to put the well-being of nature first. The macrobiotic movement encourages eating seasonal, locally grown whole foods farmed using natural agricultural methods and reducing or eliminating the production of food using industrial monoculture methods.

Much greater diversity is needed in growing crops. Today, half the world’s agricultural land is used to produce only four crops: soya, wheat, corn and rice. Monoculture farming is partly driven to produce food to feed animals in industrialised farming. Greater use of millet, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, rye, amaranth, sorghum, vegetables and various beans will help restore greater biodiversity.

Eating organic or naturally grown plant-based food to reduce crops grown to feed animals will free land for other creatures. Eliminating all factory-farmed poultry, eggs, fish, dairy food and meat will return land to the wild or recreational use, increasing plant and animal diversity, while a reduction in farmed animals will reduce harmful emissions into the environment.

To help restore insect diversity and stop chemical pollution of farmland, rivers, lakes and waterways buy organic / bio foods whenever possible. If these are not available ask your retailers to stock them.

Macrobiotics can choose biodiversity in response to extinction challenges and include foods that are at risk of disappearing from our local areas. 200,000 different species of plants can be used in our diets, but today only about 200 are widely eaten.

Primarily, eat locally grown seasonal food that has not been processed; including vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruits, nuts, seeds, wild edible plants, herbs and teas. Learn to ferment, pickle and dry them for future consumption and where possible use the whole food including the skins and inedible parts for soup stock.

Buy fruit and vegetables unpackaged and whatever their shape, blemishes or colour; so shopkeepers see their popularity and understand that customers want natural foods. Otherwise these foods are wasted at the farms or shops.

To promote social justice for families of farmers and workers in the food industry throughout the world, buy Fair Trade products when possible.

Save water by buying locally. Consider the amount of water taken to grow food, for example 130 litres for the beans for one cup of coffee or nearly 400 litres of water for 1 litre of almond milk. Buying dried food from a local farm reduces creating unsustainable dry areas in other locations.

Instead of plastic shopping bags take sustainable bags made from natural materials. When you see excessive plastic packaging tell the shopkeeper or supermarket manager it is not necessary for freshness and harms the environment.

Use energy-efficient ways to cook food – soak grains, beans or dried foods overnight to greatly reduce cooking time. Turn off the heat as soon as water starts to simmer (95c) and leave the lid on to cook further with its own heat. In winter wrap your pot of cooked food in an old blanket to keep it hot for longer. If you blanch vegetables, use the same water to cook other vegetables/beans etc for a soup. Vegetables can also be steamed above the soup. Consider choosing a renewable energy source for cooking.

The use of refrigerators in our homes, shops and transport contributes further to global warming and depletion of the ozone layer. Avoid buying refrigerated food and consider an alternative at home, such as a larder, or use the fridge at a higher temperature.


For Simon’s full Macrobiotics and Environment paper, presented at the 2019 International Macrobiotic Conference in Valencia, Spain last October, go to