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Saving Heirloom Seeds For The Next Generation

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Every seed contains the unique genetic blueprint of a plant’s life. Life can sprout from seeds that are thousands of years old (e.g., the 3000-year-old seeds found in the Egyptian pyramids). The uncooked seeds in a pot found among the ancient ruins of the American Indians in the Four Corners area (located in southwest Colorado) can still germinate, long after these mysterious ancestors of the American Indians have disappeared. Nowadays, it is still possible to purchase descendants of these Anasazi seeds.

When European and Asian immigrants came to the USA, they brought with them plant and vegetable seeds from their homeland. As a result, many different varieties of seeds found their way to the USA. In the 1950s, the agricultural industry underwent a dramatic change government policies on agriculture were influenced by cooperation, and agriculture became an industry. As a result, many small farms disappeared. Agricultural products were viewed as commercial products. Farming methods were mechanized, and seeds selected for growing were those that had been artificially modified so that the crops had improved yield, grew fast, longer shelf life, and looked better. This was at the expense of traditional seeds that produced crops with better taste and higher nutritional value. Within 50 to 100 years, almost 95% of the original seeds have been lost. Older generation of Americans recall vegetables and fruits of the past having more variety and flavour. Reduction of seed variety has a severe and insidious impact on nature’s balance, human health and human survival.

In 1975, as American Diane Whealy’s grandfather laid dying, he gave Diane and her husband Kent three seed species brought by his parents from Bavaria. Both Diane and Kent realised that it was up to them to preserve this inheritance from their forefathers. As they read up and learned more about the seriousness of extinction of seed species, they decided to contact other people who were also interested in preserving seeds inherited from the past. That year, they established the Seed Saver Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to this mission. There were 50 members in the first year, with 27 of them contributing over 20 seed species. Now, 25 years later, there are 8000 members in 30 countries, of which 1000 members have contributed over 10,000 traditional seed species. In the 1980s, the Seed Saver Exchange bought a farm covering 170 acres, and grew the following crops that are close to extinction: 700 apple varieties, 18,000 vegetables, 4,100 tomato varieties, 3,600 bean varieties, 1,200 pepper varieties, 1,000 varieties of squash, 900 pea varieties, 850 lettuce varieties, 400 melon varieties, 200 garlic varieties, etc.

Plant genetic diversity is a principal way of preventing plant diseases, viruses, and harmful insects. The 1854 Irish Potato Famine arose from potato blight and the resultant poor harvest. As a result, one million people died of starvation, and another million left for the USA. In 1970, corn in the southern part of America was infected, resulting in loss of 50% of the crop. This was because the six varieties of corns that were grown were similar.

Traditional seed varieties inherited from our forefathers have stood the test of time. Over thousands of years, nature has selected seed varieties that have adapted to the climate and geography, and that can be withstand the attack of harmful bugs and viruses. New hybrid varieties tend to have lower vitality and nutritional values. For example, hybrid tomatoes, apples and potatoes have lower vitamin C and are less tasty than traditional varieties. The strawberries that are commercially available in the USA were originally selected by a horticulture professor. These strawberries are more durable for transportation but lack taste. In contrast, those brought in the farmers’ markets in California do not keep well, but they are fragrant and tasty.

Farmers (using chemical fertilizers) who want to convert to organic farming must not only allow their land to recover their vitality, but also acquire traditional seed varieties as well. Many hybrid seeds are designed to respond well to chemical fertilizers and may not respond well to organic farming methods. These hybrid varieties (e.g., seedless watermelons) also have lower vitality than traditional varieties (watermelon with seeds).

Because of the efforts of people keen to preserve traditional seeds, it is now possible to buy some of these seeds and occasionally, some of these crops. Both customers and farmers must cooperate in this respect.

Once a year during summer, the Seed Saver Exchange organizes an educational conference. This year, it is held on July 22 and July 23 in an Iowa farm, and is open only to members. Annual membership fee is US$30 for Americans, and US$45 for international members. The two-day conference features seeds and crops from the days of our ancestors, and information on how to preserve these seeds. The keynote speaker this year is Pat Mooney, the host of RAFI. The Seed Saver Exchange’s major concern is the adverse impact of genetic engineering, and they are seeking ways to avoid this calamity. More details will be available in the future. Please contact the organization directly if you are interested.

Contact addresses:

Seed Savers Exchange

3076 North Winn Road

Decorah, IA 52101-7776

Tel: (319) 382-5990

Fax: (319) 382-5872

Seeds of Change:

P.O. Box 15700

Santa Fe, NM 87506-5700

Tel: (505) 438-8080

Fax: (505) 428-7052

Lively Eyes, Healthy Vision

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

The eyes have been called the “window of the soul”. Through our eyes, we express our inner feelings and receive information from light sources. All of us hope to have a pair of healthy eyes. Unfortunately, in this era, our eyesight has generally deteriorated from prolonged viewing of flat images arising from reading books, watching television programmes, and using the computer. Once the eyes lack the opportunity to see objects with different degrees of depth, they lose this natural ability, and develop ailments such as myopia, farsightedness, astigmatism, glaucoma, and cataracts. Children’s eyesight is deteriorating earlier, and the proportion of primary school students wearing glasses is on the rise. A principle of nature is “use it or lose it” – animals that are brought up in darkness have been shown to lose their power of sight because they have no use for it.

In this modern era, few people use their peripheral vision and most use their central vision. As a result, their peripheral vision deteriorates, the ability of their eyes to adjust for distance weakens, and their central vision is over-strained. This leads to myopia, farsightedness, and glaucoma. The way to improve our vision is to allow our eyes to resume their natural activities and rediscover their abilities. An American eye-specialist, Dr William Bates, M.D. (1860-1931), accidentally found that when one of his myopic patients unintentionally glance at the wall, her eyeballs were of a normal curvature; yet, when she deliberately tried to read words, her eyeballs became elongated. His research showed that vision deterioration occurred because the eyes are stressed from continuously engaging in activities, they are not naturally accustomed to. He taught many students how to recover their normal vision, and these students, in turn, transmitted this knowledge to others. Some of these beneficiaries included those who had been highly myopic people for a long time, and those who were almost blind. Many of them improved their vision and some did not need glasses any longer.

Let us now discuss Dr Bate’s findings:

Natural vision comes from continually moving our focus of attention. Focus on a small part of the object before looking at the entire object. For example, when looking at a chair, do not try to look at the entire chair right away; rather, focus on one part of the chair that is clear and then quickly shift the focus to other parts (e.g., shift from the back of the chair to its seat and then to its legs). If we try to see the entire object immediately, the object will be blur and we may develop an undesirable habit of staring at an object without blinking.

The eyes should be in continual movement. This keeps the eyes moist and prevent the eyes from staring. We may forget periodically blink our eyes when we read, watch television programmes or movies, and use the computer. Likewise, we may forget to blink when we are distracted or deep in thoughts. Staring at an object is a cause of our vision deterioration.

Breathing naturally is a good habit to adopt. Our eyes need the oxygen in our blood for nourishment.

Breathing naturally or yawning are ways to increase our oxygen intake. When we are engrossed in reading, watching television programmes or using the computer, we tend to forget to breathe, or breathe in a shallow manner. This leads to a deterioration in our vision.

According to Dr Bates, if we know the principles of using our natural vision and put them to practice, our vision will revert to normal. Eye ailments related to improper light refraction are functional and reversible. Stress to the eyes leads to eye problems. To verify this, try this simple experiment. Stare at a point for five seconds or longer. What happens? You will notice that the point becomes blurred, and finally disappears. Your eyes will also feel tired. Relaxation can reduce stress to the eyes. After a short rest, your vision will improve as the eyestrain reduces. To properly use our eyes, we need to observe the following principles:

Blink frequently. Staring is a source of eyestrain and can reduce our vision.

Move our eyes frequently and look from one point to another. See a particular point clearly, leaving other areas less clear. For instance, when looking at a chair, do not try to see the entire chair at once. First look at its back. Remember that our peripheral vision will quickly move from the back of the chair to its seat and then its legs. This method of gradually seeing the entire object is called focal point.

As we move our head and eyes throughout the day, imagine that the objects around us are moving in a direction opposite to that of our head and eyes. When we are in our room or walking in the streets, notice that the ground or the road seems to be heading towards us, and that the things on both sides appear to be moving away from us.

Dr Bates devise some exercises that will aid us in recovering our normal vision.

Close your eyes and cover them with your palms. Visualise the colour ‘black’ – only when you can ‘see’ black will your nervous system be completely relaxed. After reading or using the computer for twenty minutes, use this exercise to relax your eyes. Meir Schneider, a vision instructor who was blind at birth, suggests that people with poor vision perform this exercise for an hour every day. When doing this exercise, first relax your shoulders and back. Then, rub your palms together before cupping them over your eyes. Initially, there may be a sensation of tightness on the eyes. The stress on the eyes accumulated over the years can be released after much relaxation practices. Once this has been accomplished, your eyes will be able to see clearly.

Sunbathe your eyes, keeping them closed. Visualise the sunshine entering the body through the top of your head. Gently rotate your body from left to right. When turning right, use your right hand to massage your right eyebrow; when turning left, use your left hand to massage your left eyebrow. After sunbathing your eyes, use your palms to cover them. Alternate between the ‘sunbathing’ exercise and the ‘palming’ exercise. Sunshine in the morning and evening is ideal for the ‘sunbathing’ exercise.

Keep your body and eyes agile. Select a spot where you can observe a vast expanse of nature for this exercise. Stand in a relaxed manner and let the body’s centre of gravity move from left to right. Rotate the body from left to right and observe the objects before you move as you do this. Select a few focal points so that your visual focus shifts from near to far, and vice versa. When looking into the distance, stretch your hands and move them up, down, left and right of the natural expanse you are looking at. Look forward while at the same time moving and rotating either one or both hands. This exercise is designed to stimulate your peripheral vision. When performing this exercise, periodically blink and breathe deeply.

Improving our vision is no different from improving other aspects of our body – it requires a multifaceted approach. Eat natural food, breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and exercise appropriately. Relax and avoid squinting our eyes. Do not be overly bothered by being temporarily unable to see clearly. Most people see significant improvement in their vision within a month. During the recovery period, those wearing glasses should minimize wearing glasses as their vision improves. Over-powerful glasses strain the eyes. People find that their vision continuously deteriorates when they begin to wear glasses.

As we improve our vision, we also learn how to keep our body and mind healthy. We also become more confident that we can do something to improve our own health.

Dawn of the new millennium Saving The Earth Through Green Production And Consumerism

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

The headlines of 1999 were filled with news of disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wars. Other more fearsome calamities that caused more harm also occurred during this period, but these news did not make headline stories.

Every year, about 50 million people die of cancer, and 30 million people die of heart attacks. Because of pollution, countless people have problems with their kidneys, immune systems and nervous systems. The sperm count of men has rapidly declined, leading to the possibility of extinction within two generations. Global warming has led to abnormalities in the weather. Every day, 200,000 acres of rain forests disappear, leading to the extinction of 4000 to 6000 species of animals and plants, as well as the extinction of over 95% agricultural products (for e.g., more than 6000 types of apples have become extinct, and in India, the types of rice available has declined from 50,000 to just 10). Genetic modification of agricultural products has led to irrevocable contamination of genes. Nuclear waste that has been deposited in different countries and the bottom of the ocean is a time bomb waiting to explode.

During this new year (which also marks the beginning of the new millennium), the practical question we face is: how long can mankind last on this earth? Minimally, this could be 50 to 100 years; maximally, we don’t know. In the past 50 to 100 years, we have chosen a lifestyle that emphasizes money but not life; therefore, not much time is left. To live, we have to make radical changes to our lifestyles and work. Do not create any more waste and pollution. Manufacturers and farmers must take the lead in this because they are the major contributors to rubbish and pollution in the form of solids, liquids and gases. The producers of these pollutants suffer the most. Emphasis must be given to human lives, and the health and lives of the workers must not be sacrificed for material gains. Currently, the threat to workers’ health and lives is considerably high in the agricultural industry; there are 20.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, which is significantly higher than the average of 3.9 deaths among all agricultural and industrial workers.

On average, a petrochemical plant generates about 1 million pounds of chemicals per day. Even if its waste comprises a very small percentage of the total output, the amount of toxic waste produced can be alarming. These toxic wastes accumulate every day and pollute the air, water, and land. The chemicals, raw materials, and cleaning agents used in light industries also produce waste and pollution. Many years ago, a consultant to a Southern Californian electronic company found that an overbearing smell of chemicals in its plants and recommended the use of distilled water or food grade alcohol to clean the electronic components for the benefit of its workers. The director did not heed the advice. A few years later, the director died of cancer at an early age.

The agricultural industry is the major culprit in releasing chemical pollutants to the air, water, and land. In Northern California, a thousand-acre farm was converted to organic farming because the owner realized that the use of chemicals on his farm had led to the development of cancer among his children and grandchildren. California uses 200 million pounds of farm chemicals, a quantity that is one thousand times that needed to kill every Californian resident. These pollutants accumulate in the environment year after year.

Currently, both the manufacturing and agricultural industries know of production techniques that are environmentally friendly. These techniques cost more or require more research. For example, smog devices installed on cars cost only US$100 more. However, manufacturers will not automatically install them. Californian laws now mandate that manufacturer produce goods that generate minimal garbage and pollution. For example, in the areas of transportation and packaging, wooden crates can be re-used in construction, paper boxes can be recycled, and fillings should be made of materials (e.g., corn) that can be re-used to make compost. Some U.S. manufacturers have begun using this type of filling materials. The number of environmentally conscious manufacturers is increasing. To facilitate and encourage consumers to select ‘green’ products and services, Cooperatives America provides a directory of ‘green’ manufacturers and ‘green’ products (website: www.cooparmerica.org or www.greenpagesstore.org).

Money is a chief driver of manufacturers’ product decisions. If consumers use less packaged products, and more recycled paper, environmentally friendly products, organic products, and heirloom (non-hybrid) products, they will directly reverse the suicidal manufacturing methods of the past.

Twenty or thirty years ago, few places in the world sell packaged products – consumers brought their own bottles when they purchased oil, and baskets when they purchased vegetables. They brought their own cloth bags, and food products were not packaged. Retailers sold their bags of rice, flour, sugar and salt according to their quantities that the consumers wanted. Currently, some cooperatives in the U.S. sell goods in this fashion.

Since 1997, my family has lived a life without garbage collection services. The U.S. is a nation that accumulates the most garbage in the world. On average, each person generates about 350 pounds of garbage, most of which is industrial waste. Every family generates two large bins of garbage every week. What about my family? The quantity of our weekly garbage is no larger than a fist. How do we do that? First, we do not purchase packaged or canned food and drinks. Our food comes from the farmer’s market and cooperatives, and we bring our own cloth bags and old plastic bags to contain the vegetables, rice, and corn. Kitchen waste are used to make compost. Paper, and the occasional glass bottles and plastic bottles, are taken to recycling stations. We feel that this way of life is natural and do not find it cumbersome.

When you drink canned drinks, think of the sources used and the garbage generated in the manufacturing of the cans. Remember, if there is no garbage, there is no pollution. If you want to drink bottled drinks, bring along a large empty bottle to buy water. Many stores sell water this way. Otherwise, install your own water filter. The recreation and travel industry can also adopt a ‘green’ attitude and reduce its garbage production levels. In golf courses, the amount of agricultural chemicals and herbicides used per acre is four times of that used in farms. The incidence of brain cancer and lymphatic caner among workers in golf courses is also very high. Currently, California has several organic golf courses. New York has mandated that new golf courses must be organic. Hotels and restaurants can choose not to create excessive garbage. Hotel guests who stay for several days need not have their bed sheets and towels changed every day. There is also no need to use harmful pesticides, disinfectant, and cleaning agents. Leftovers from restaurants can be sent to farms to make compost. In North California, vegetables grown by Bob Cannard are sent to several restaurants. The delivery trucks also carry the leftovers from restaurants back to Bob’s farm. These leftovers are stacked into tall heaps among the compost made of saw dust. Sometimes, French loaves can be seen sticking out of these compost heaps.

In selecting furniture, avoid wood made from virgin forests, especially those from the tropical rain forests. Wood from tropical rain forests has no annual rings, and is therefore particularly valuable. Pinewood comes from tree farms, but even in such circumstances, tree cutting should be selective and designed to extend the life of the trees. There should not be deforestation, and not more than 10% of the trees should be cut at any point in time. The soil in rain forests is not particularly fertile, and much of the soil’s nutrients are stored above ground. Once the trees are cut, the land will become infertile within years, and cannot support farm activities or animal breeding. In South America, the rain forests are burnt to grow bananas and breed cattle for hamburger restaurants.

Palm trees, coconut trees, and sugar canes are grown in Southeast Asia. My heart aches whenever I see vast areas of forests being replaced by these commercial agricultural products. Only nature, with its variety and diversity, can preserve the fertility and stability of the soil. On the other hand, commercial farms use large quantities of chemical fertilizers and herbicides, damaging the land, water and air.

In Hawaii, the Ministry of Health has found an unusually high incidence of cancer and birth deformities among residents who live on residential property converted from pineapple farms. In Malaysia, the land used to grow palm trees cannot be used to build houses as the land is unstable. Land that has been damaged needs the use of natural farming methods to regain its health. Microorganisms can be used to detoxify the land, after which seeds of plants and trees native to the forest can then be grown.

Companies or individuals owning properties can preserve the natural state of their land. This is a good gift for their descendants. For example, some of the natural parks in Santa Barbara have been donated by families for the use of future generations. The land by the ocean has also been brought by the public to preserve the land for the next generation.

The year 2000 signifies a new beginning. No garbage, no pollution. Only in this way will we be able to save humankind and nature, both of which are close to extinction.

Prevention is better than Cure – Keeping the digestive system in the pink of health

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

The digestive system starts from the mouth, through the pharynx (throat), esophagus (gullet), stomach, small intestine and large intestine to the rectum, measuring a total of 30 feet (9 meters). The digestion of carbohydrates starts from the mouth where it is grind with saliva. Next, it enters the stomach where gastric juices continue to break down the carbohydrates and proteins. Following this, the semi-digested food enters the small intestines where the carbohydrates, proteins and fats are being mixed with a battery of enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder. The spleen also participates in the digestion of food mainly by maintaining the blood clean and healthy. Before and after the digestion process, the spleen is enlarged. The small intestine is the longest portion of the gut (20 to 22 feet long). Digested food is mainly absorbed in the small intestine; the remnants then move on to the large intestine where bacteria do the last bit of the job. The remaining waste is then voided through the rectum. The whole process takes about 12 hours under normal circumstances. That is to say, waste from the morning breakfast should be discharged before going to bed on the same day, that of lunch should be voided by the next morning upon waking, and that of yesterday’s dinner should be voided after breakfast.

The human digestive system is similar to that of the grass eating animals’. Acidity of the gastric juices in man is only one twentieth of that in a meateating animal. The human gut is about 10 to 12 times the length of his spine. That of a meateater is only 3 times its spine so that its rapidly putrefying content can be voided quickly. Man has neither claws nor sharp front teeth; but he has sweat glands, and these are not found on the skin of meateaters, which perspire through the tongue. From these analysis, the human gut is more suited to deal with food that is high in fibre content. Thus, the rule of thumb is maintaining good health is to eat high fibre plant food. The problems of the digestive system, such as stomach infection, stomach ulcer, stomach cancer, intestinal ulcer, diabetes, constipation, colon infection, parasites, piles, colon cancer, etc., are caused by eating meat and processed (depleted of fibres) food.

First of all, let’s take a look at gastric problems. Those that are of ‘emergency’ in nature have symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea and discomfort in the stomach after taking food. Their causes include burn-injuries, surgery, side-effects of Aspirin or other drugs and infection or chemical pollution. Those that are ‘non-emergency’ in nature are mainly a result of an infection in the intestine or stomach cancer. Another cause is excessive gastric acids that encourage the occurrence of gastric ulcers. In order to digest meat that are high in protein content, there is an increase of gastric acids (acidity in the stomach of a meat-eater is 20 times that of a human) to beef up digestive efficiency. Unfortunately, not only does the stomach become over-worked, the resulting high acidity also damages the stomach lining causing ulcers to occur. If the stomach is subjected to prolonged period under such high-stressed condition, gastric acids will run out giving rise to a condition whereby there is a deficiency in stomach acids such that bacteria (e.g., Helicobacter Pylori) can survive and multiply. In America, 50% of those above 50 years old carry this bacteria in them. The main culprit for this condition is the consumption of chicken and milk. Milk which can neutralise stomach acids allow bacteria to escape the acidity control.

  1. Once gastric problem (or even gastric bleeding) occurs, what shall we do? Dr Bieler, in his book entitled “Food Is Your Best Medicine”, mentioned that it is possible to use powdered active yeast as food to stop the bleeding. For three days, take only life yeast powder; each feed comprises of mixing one tablespoon of yeast in warm water. Depending on necessity, you can take up to more than 20 tablespoons. Thereafter, eat only high fibre plant food, eating in small portions in many intakes. It is a burden for the stomach as well as the whole digestive system to deal with complicated food. For instance, different digestive juices digest carbohydrates and proteins. With fruits being taken at the same time, they cannot be completely digested. The stomach is being over-worked. Food that is popularly available falls within this category, like meat buns, beef noodle, burgers, meat dumplings, ham, sandwiches, hot dog, pizza, etc. After eating them, one feels that the food is not digested, and tired out. Meat-eaters do not eat carbohydrates. Plant eaters do not eat meat. Man, who has the digestive system of plant eaters eat meat. No wonder he has so many problems with his digestive system. Semi-digested food accumulates easily in the gut and rots, providing a conducive living condition for harmful bacteria. At the same time, semi-digested proteins also give rise to allergies. The large intestine is made to discharge digested high-fibre food, if the food intake is low-fibre meat, white rice and white flour, constipation will happen. Few people move their bowel three times a day, they are satisfied with just once a day; many have it once in several days. The large intestine is supposed to be 2 inches in diameter, but prolonged accommodation of residential faeces, narrowed down the passageway to the diameter of that of a pencil. Once constipation occurs, parasites ranging from twenty-foot-long tapeworms to invisible fluke take up residence readily. Not only do they take up the sumptuous food available in the host, but they may also puncture the walls of the gut and other organs, multiplying and discharging toxin during metabolism; thus, causing among other great sufferings, asthma, arthritis, allergy, etc., to the host. The only cure is a thorough clean up of the gut. This can be achieved by drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider in warm water (to prevent parasite from multiplying) every day. A weekly one-day ‘water-fasting’ or ‘fruit-only’ diet will also be helpful to clean up the gut. Adopting a simple natural diet of grains (not too many kinds for each meal); eating fruits on its own; taking combinations of vegetables and carbohydrates or vegetables and beans/nuts; is a good idea. Avoid eating high protein food and carbohydrates at the same time. If such regiment can be observed, you will feel energized after every meal without any discomfort due to indigestion. Take only three meals a day. A good start with fruits for breakfast, different kinds of cooked or uncooked vegetables with seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.) and grains for lunch as well as dinner. Fruits can be taken as snacks in-between lunch and dinner. Beans with a high content of proteins and carbohydrates are more difficult to digest, sprouted beans are easier to digest; and the same goes for grains, which can be soaked in water (for a day or two to encourage germination) before cooking. Those who cannot stop eating meat immediately may bear in mind that high protein food should be eaten on its own, not to be taken together with grains, bread, etc. This will help to avoid discomforts due to indigestion, such as allergy, rheumatism, constipation, obesity, fatigue, premature aging, etc.



From Insomnia To Sound Sleep

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

A person who can eat and sleep is a lucky person as these are the basic conditions for achieving good health. Traditionally, it has been said, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” However, given the modern lifestyle and environment, many people have insomnia from stress, late nights, noise, as well as pollution from air and electromagnetism. Because the causes of insomnia are complex, insomnia can no longer be cured by the conventional ways of counting sheep or soaking one’s feet in hot water. Some methods that may aid sleep are discussed below:

Regulate one’s life

Sleep is associated with the body’s generation of melatonin. During the night, the production of melatonin increases several times. In the west, melatonin has been used to help people with insomnia. The ideal time to sleep is before 10 p.m. Hence, it is best to relax in preparation of sleep after 9 p.m. If one’s day and night is reversed, the body will find difficulty in producing melatonin.

Have a healthy body

When the body is unhealthy, ailments such as pain, cold feet, and asthma can interfere with one’s sleep. When the body feels pain, it signifies that some parts of the body is not healthy and needs to be nursed to health using a total health approach. People with asthma should avoid milk, and combining bread with grapefruits, oranges at the same meal. If one has been over-pampered when young, the development of the heart chakra can be affected, leading to asthma. One useful way to ease pain and to develop one’s heart chakra is to visualize a blue light shining on one’s entire body or use a blue light bulb. Taking a warm bath before sleep can also help.

Do some deep-breathing exercises everyday

Engage in exercises that require deep breathing. Take slow walks or jog for 20 minutes every day. People who live in polluted cities should install air purifiers (especially in the bedroom) as good air quality can aid sleep.

Avoid electromagnetic interference

Experiments with animals have shown that exposure to electricity (60HZ) can lead to a decline in the production of melatonin, which aids in sleep. Besides reducing over-exposure to television and computers, avoid placing large electrical appliances in the bedroom. Walk barefooted on grass every day to discharge the static electricity in our bodies.

Have a good sleeping environment

Where we sleep should be dark and quiet. The bed should be warm, and the blanket should be made of natural fabrics such as cotton or wool and not chemical fabrics. Noise and light will interfere with sleep. Let the body and mind quieten down. Only when the body is relaxed and not excited, can it rejuvenate.

Obtain sufficient nutrition

The body should have sufficient tnptophan, Niacin (one of the B vitamins), and magnesium. Shortage of any of these three substances will lead to insomnia. Bean sprouts are rich sources of tnptophan and Vitamin B complex. Active yeast (used to make buns and bread) is also a good source; take one teaspoon of yeast with warm water on an empty stomach. Whole grains are good sources of magnesium.

Avoid food contaminated by chemicals

Chemicals used in food are deposited within animal fats. Hence, the people who eat meat generally have chemical levels that are 35 times that of vegetarians (as reflected in the analysis of human milk). The short-term side effect of these chemicals is that they interfere with the nervous system, leading to insomnia.

Have peaceful and relaxed mind

Stress and nervousness can lead to insomnia. Methods to relax include exercising our eyes (roll our eyes to the right three times, and then to the left three times) and visualizing blue light. Another method is to write down on a piece of paper, just before we sleep, things that are troubling us. Do not look at this paper again before we sleep. Read the note the next day and then burn it. Continue for seven days.

Have sufficient space to sleep

Spouses and relatives who share beds should consider whether the bed is sufficiently large. Otherwise, movement or noise from their partners will disturb their sleep (and even energy fields). If sleep is adversely affected over long periods of time, consider sleeping alone.

Avoid over-exerting and over-eating before sleep

Sleeping requires sufficient energy levels. If we are too tired before we sleep, we may toss and turn and not sleep too well. If we feel very tired, we should walk on the grass and practice qigong. The simplest way is to visualize energy levels rising from the bottom of our feet to the tip of our spine, relax the whole body, and smile. We can then sleep when we feel that our energy levels have increased. In addition, try to take dinners early; have simple meals and do not over-eat.

We spend an average of eight hours sleeping. Hence, it is important to adjust the state of our body and mind before we sleep. Besides relaxing our bodies, it is also important to relax our minds before we sleep. Avoid going to bed with anger. If there is any disagreement, it is best to reach some harmonious reconciliation first. If we can sleep with joy, we will not let our moods harm our bodies, and our bodies in turn can successfully engage in ‘repair’ work during our sleep. It is advisable to raise the quality of our consciousness to the highest levels before we sleep – that is, in terms of its limitless compassion, wisdom, and creativity. It is possible to employ methods used in our religion to raise our consciousness to levels we aspire to. In this way, we are making good use of one of the best times of the day.


Diet for Summer

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Summer is a season when fruits and vegetables are in abundance. It’s the best time to enjoy Nature’s gifts. There is plenty of sunshine during this hottest season of the year and the fruits produced, such as watermelon, sweet melon, honeydew melon, grapes, oranges and all kinds of tropical fruits, that are thirst quenching and cooling in nature become available in the market.

Sweet fruits are considered cooling and during such hot weather, would naturally be most helpful for quenching thirst and bringing down the body temperature. A remedy for heat stroke is to drink a glass of brown sugar fluid.

Local fruits are selected accordingly, depending on the living environment. Taking fruits as main course for breakfast is the most appropriate choice during summer. Fruits in the melon family is best eaten on its own and not mixed with others. Sweet and sour fruits should not be eaten together and certainly not with starch as well. Alternatively, choose one day in the week to eat only fruits, so as to allow the system to clear itself and take a break; or eat fruits for lunch frequently.

Summer is also the best time for fasting. Vegetable and fruit juice, clear soup or floral tea, green tea, etc. can be used. Fasting for two or three days; a longer fasting period is not advisable for beginners. Those who desire to fast for a longer period of time should have fast for several occasions previously and should best do it compassionately with the help and guidance of an experienced person. A preparation such as reading up and listening to tapes on the relevant material is strongly advised.

Besides fruits, salads made from a good variety of fruits and vegetables (and garnished with finely grated fresh coconut for a tropical sizzle,) should also be eaten frequently.

This season is also ideal for eating suitable amounts of fresh chilies (long type). In equatorial countries like Malaysia, people like to eat freshly cut green and red chilies, they eat it with every meal. In the tropics such as Yunan and Kuizhou, it is believed that chili helps to prevent stomach discomfort (feeling of being bloated-up due to the hot damp atmosphere) during this season. Chili helps to dissipate heat from the body, the heavy perspiration after eating chili makes one feel good. However, people living in temperate and cold places would shiver with cold sweat after eating chili.

Some variations in cooking vegetables is advised, Indian and SE-Asian flavor may be used but keep to steaming and season with a sauce.

Water intake is very important during summer. It is best to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. On top of that, some suggestions of fluid intake are given here.


  • Plain water with a dash of lemon juice or orange juice
  • Fresh coconut juice served with some coconut flesh
  • Fresh sugar cane juice
  • Fresh orange juice served with a dash of passion fruit juice
  • Hot or cold teas (floral tea, green tea and leaf tea)
  • Floral teas may include those of sunflower, jasmine, rose, Rousun, peony, gold/silver, chrysanthemum, etc.
  • Leaf teas may include those of mint-, papaya-, pipa-(louquat), sumach and local green teas
  • These teas can be made with boiled hot water or filled a bottle with cold water and exposed it to sunlight for one whole day to make a solar brew.


Fruit ice-cream

  • Fresh fruits can be frozen to make fruit ice creams.
  • Choose sweet ones such as banana (skin removed), peach, plum, grapes, durian, lychee, longan, mango, etc.
  • Add a little of the fruit juice to the selected fruit, then blend until smooth and creamy in texture. Serve as fruit ice-cream.

Baked apple or banana pie

Arrange in an 8-inch baking dish:

  • 4 apples or 4 bananas (skinned, sliced) mixed with juice of half a lemon

Top with:

  • ¾ cup of wheat germ
  • ¾ cup of desiccated coconut
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Bake in at 300oF for an hour.

Sweet soup

Briefly boil sweet potato, melon (any variety), root (any variety) and Chinese boxthorn leaves together in a pot. Lower the flame to simmer for an hour. Serve only the resulting clear soup which is sweetened naturally by the sweet potato while the unwanted pulp can be added to the garden compost.

Sweet and sour sauce Stew

Add finely grated ginger to a mixture of equal quantities of Soy sauce, black vinegar, molasses and sesame oil. Stew with Tempeh (Malay fermented soybean cake), Tofu (Soybean cake), root and vegetable (of a melon variety) for at least an hour followed by steaming. Serve with thick soy gravy.

Sweet sauce

Mix Soybean paste with malt syrup or brown rice syrup, add a little sesame oil and water. Serve with vegetables that are steamed or stir-fried in a little oil.

Lentil cooked in Indian style

Put into a pot the following:

  • 1 cup of lentil (soaked overnight)
  • Water level is of one inch above lentil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander leaves
  • 2 fennels
  • 1 or 2 slices of ginger
  • ¼ cup raisins

Cook for half an hour. When ready, add half a teaspoon of tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon of oil and a little sea salt. Serve with some coriander leaves.

A time for awakening – when food turns to poison and farmland turns to cemeteries

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

The May issue of the authoritative science journal Nature (volume 399, 214, 1999) reports the research of John E Losey and his associates from Cornell University. Their research reported a laboratory experiment where half of the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly died four days after eating milkweed leaves that had been sprayed with pollen from genetically engineered B.t. corn; those that ate pollen from normal corn survived. Milkweed are weeds that grow in cornfields and is the only food source of these caterpillars. This research finding attracted much media attention, and made Americans realized the unexpected dangers of genetically engineered food. If caterpillars can die from eating pollen, what about animals and humans that eat the corn?

What is genetically engineered corn? Why are countries in Europe and Africa not welcoming this kind of food, and calling it Frankenstein food?

The process of genetic engineering involves combining the genes of different living things to obtain a superior gene. This process includes using genes of toxins or poisons to break the defense system and enter the genetic structure of living organisms. B.t. corn is formed by inserting the genes of bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) into genes of corn to create a toxin that kills insects that eat corn. From the research report discussed earlier, we now know that this not only kills corn-eating insects. This year, North America has cultivated about 22 million acres of land for such genetically engineered crop, which amounts to 27% of total production. Two-thirds of these genetically engineered agricultural products contains genes that are resistant to pesticides (so that farmers can use more of these pesticides).

From 1996, genetically engineered food has ostentatiously crept into the US market. Currently, 60% to 80% of all food has some genetically altered component. This year, 25% of corn, 45% of soybean (80% of cooking oil comes from soybean), 50% of cotton and canola oil are genetically engineered. Some beef, milk, and dairy products are derived from cows that have taken genetically engineered hormones. It is anticipated that more genetically engineered food products will come into the market next year. Nevertheless, these are currently still some agricultural products that are not genetically engineered.

Genetic engineering itself is fraught with many dangers, particularly in the area of food production. Many scientists, including Dr. George Wald, are convinced that the adverse effects of genetic engineering exceed those from exposure to radiation. This is because genetic engineering can harm nature and the food chain for countless generations.

The incident of the Monarch caterpillars discussed earlier is only the tip of the iceberg. Genetically engineered food can contain new kinds of allergens and toxins and even super toxins, spreading genes that are immune to antibiotics. These genes are not destroyed by heat or digestive juices and can lead other bacteria and toxins to be immune to antibodies. Farmers can increase the use of insecticides on these genetically engineered crops by three times. In time, the genes of humans, animals and plants will become mixed up.

The British Medical Association has openly asked for a ban on commercialized cultivation of genetically engineered agricultural products. The European Food Production Association has asked for genetically engineered food products to be classified separately from normal food products. African countries have rejected the import of genetically engineered food products. Yet, the US government has insisted that genetically engineered food is safe.

Presently, many insurance organizations in US have requested the US government to conduct tests on the safety of genetically engineered food and to separately label this kind of food. Some scientists and religious leaders in US have jointly sued the FDA for not protecting public interest by allowing food that has not undergone safety tests to enter the consumer market. Over 5 million people have responded to call for signatures by the public interest group “Mothers for Nature Law”.

What is genetic engineering? Why is it such a great threat to humankind and to nature? The words ‘genetic engineering’ provides an obvious clue to the answer. Engineering refers to the construction or modification by humans (e.g., civil engineering). Genes are blueprints of life, and to interfere with this process if analogous to changing a rose to perfume, human brains to computers, bees to honey, and cotton flowers to rubber. No matter how intelligent humans are, they cannot create life. The word ‘engineering’ belongs to the realm of mechanical theory. During this century, the natural sciences have progressively abandoned the notion of nature as mechanistic. After much research, these natural sciences have adopted a holistic perspective and realized that nature and mechanistic theories do not go together. Physics and chemistry first uncovered the theory of quantum mechanics. Biology, medicine, and genetic research subsequently adopted a holistic perspective and realized that nature is interdependent and multifaceted, not uni-dimensional.

Genetic engineering has its foundation in dated theories of mechanics and genetic research and is not based on the new genetic theories developed after the 1970’s. it is therefore doomed to fail and will lead to the demise of nature.

New genetic research has discovered that genes are not the primary driver of everything around us. Genes adapt according to signals received from the surroundings and are constantly changing. This is particularly true for lower life forms such as plants, bacteria, toxins, and insects. For example, antibiotics lead to bacteria that are immune to these antibiotics; insecticides lead to insects that are immune to these insecticides; cancer cells develop resistance against chemotherapy; and weeds have genes that are immune to herbicides. In the past ten to fifteen years, infection by the Staphylococcus bacteria has increased nearly 20 times. In 1990, it was discovered that the Staphylococcus bacteria, which is resistant to antibiotics, was the cause of the common cold. It is generally believed that these strong bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics arose from the common use of antibiotics in animal farming and in medicines. The dangers in the reckless use of antibiotics lie not only in the propagation of bacteria that are immune to antibiotics, but also in the increase in gene migration (by about ten- to fifteen- fold) across different animals. Some experts believe that the use of antibiotics may have led to sudden mutations of genes that are immune to antibiotics, which are in turn transferred to the those of the harmful bacteria. In addition, as genetic engineering becomes commercialized, the objective of these operations is to increase the rate of horizontal gene transfer across different living organisms. This leads to an inter-transfer between the genes of different toxins, creating strains of super toxins.

Because of the complexity of modern scientific technology, some people are unaware of its perils and put their lives at risk. Nuclear energy is one example. Originally, it was thought that nuclear energy was an invaluable and limitless source of energy. Later, it was discovered that its radiation could lead to changes in genetic structures that cause cancer, deformed infants and death. If the nuclear specialists do not develop a way of disposing the highly toxic nuclear waste, the earth and the living beings living on it will be harmed for millions of years. This was not a scenario that the layman was aware of when nuclear energy first developed.

Modern science has now moved into the arena of tampering with the core foundation of life – changing the structure of genes and merging the genes of plants and humans. The few scientists working in this area are changing the blueprint of life and threatening the very existence of living beings. These scientists have the backing of multinational corporations, which have profit maximization and market share as their sole objectives. The imminent perils this will bring are beyond imagination.

If we want our descendants to continue coexisting with nature, we have to wake up and assert our consumer rights by refusing to buy food that has been genetically engineered or subjected to pesticides and chemicals. Encourage farmers to employ organic farming and not fall into the trap of using chemicals. Do not buy meat as a large proportion of genetically engineered food goes into animal feed. Inquire if your stocks you invest in support these corporations involved with genetic engineering (please see the article “Who is changing the genetic structure of our food?”). If your excuses for not doing so are attributable to the need to conserve your time, effort and money, you should be prepared to continue ingesting poison and to have the notoriety of not helping our future generations. For the sake of our future generations, we need to take up this arduous responsibility. Let us strive together for the survival of everyone. Thank you.



Holistic Cancer Care

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Cancer is a common ailment plaguing people living towards the end of the 20th century. Every industrialized country is experiencing an increase in the incidence of cancer. This is particularly true of newly industrialized countries.

There are many causes of cancer, and cancer strikes when the body’s immune system is ineffective. Some of the causes include destruction of nature and soil, rapid destruction of forests (a source of oxygen), pollution of water, air and food due to chemical and radioactive release from industrial plants, disharmony in social and family relations, work stress, and irregular working and resting hours. To thoroughly cure cancer and reduce its incidence, it is necessary that mankind adopts a culture of environmental protection. A particular individual can only do so much, and it is sometimes necessary to completely avoid the contaminated environment to recover from cancer.

People with preliminary stages of cancer generally are not aware of its symptoms. There is little pain or ache, just some small problems such as hard lumps on the body, excretion of blood, constipation, fatigue, or weight reduction. However, once people have been diagnosed with cancer, they panic and despair. Their family and friends may also become anxious, and the cancer patients then undergo operations and chemotherapy. Under such circumstances, the cancer patients’ body and mind undergo dramatic shock and pain in short period of time. As a result, many people are terrified of cancer.

In recent years, many people have been exposed to the principles of holistic health care. Once they are diagnosed with cancer, they will seek a holistic cure, altering their diet and lifestyle, look into their emotion and perform animal liberation. Many people have regained their health and avoided a painful nightmare using this approach. On the other hand, some people do not have the confidence, and abandon this approach after facing pressure from friends and relatives, or when experiencing detoxification.

During one of my public lectures, a patient suffering from cancer of the lymph asked me for advice on its treatment. A year ago, she had adopted a natural vegetarian diet and her condition improved. However, her family members were worried about her loss in weight and inadequate nutrition. To please them, she took a lot of fatty meat and pork trotters. Her weight increased, but the lymphatic cancer also re-emerged on the other side of her neck. She asked me what she was to do now? People who initially change their diet will experience symptoms of detoxification – running nose, lots of phlegm discharge, fatigue, weight loss, lack of strength, giddiness, headaches, and loose bowels. If one’s diet is balanced (fruits, grains, seeds, eaten raw and cooked), these are detoxification symptom. During this time, one should frequently rest in order to let one’s energy focus on recovering and detoxification. The feeling of lack of strength may persist for three months, depending on the amount of toxins in the body. Visit places with fresh air, go for walks in forests and take deep breaths. Cancer is a disease arising from the lack of oxygen; hence, deep breathing is important. Engage in qigong, such as Waidangong and GuoLin qigong. Take walks among nature, and one’s mood will naturally improve. If one is stuck at home, there is a tendency to think too much.

There was a cancer patient from Los Angeles at a recent workshop in Santa Barbara. Her son had brought her here in a wheelchair. She had been lying in bed for three months and had no appetite. However, after experiencing a day of fresh air amidst natural surroundings, her appetite improved and she was able to interact merrily with other students at the workshop, and console other patients. During a break, I saw her climb up a large rock to sunbathe; she had no need for the wheelchair anymore. In such a conducive environment, she was able to recover her immune system within a week. When she returned to Los Angeles, her health continued to improve. Whenever I go to Los Angeles for talks, I see her happily waving to me.

The pollution in Los Angeles is well known. In actual fact, every city has serious air pollution; sometimes, there are other types of more horrifying pollution.

People living in heavily polluted cities should move. If they cannot, they should exercise and observe their diet and mood.

It is important to supplement our diet with friendly bacteria. The Bifidobacterium bifidum bacteria are beneficial to the large intestines and help to regulate our bowel movements and discharge toxins in our liver. The Bulgaricum bacteria aid the oesophagus and eliminate cancer cells. The Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria benefit the small intestines, and help the body absorb nutrients, build blood, and halt the growth of harmful bacteria.

Sleep is particularly important in the recovery of cancer patients. Noise, pollution, unhappiness, lack of oxygen will interfere with sleep. Those with liver problems tend to wake up at 3 a.m. Avoid over-eating or greasy food at dinner time or having late dinners. It is best to go to bed on an empty stomach. An hour before sleep, engage in activities that are relaxed or happy, light exercise, slow walks, qigong, or meditation.

In the prevention and cure of cancer, it is particularly important to observe spiritual purification. Use various methods to cleanse our moods – use sea salt, do eye-rotation exercises, and visualize blue light. Employ spiritual methods (e.g., repentance, upholding the five or eight precepts) to generate loving kindness and strengthen our ability to self-reflect. These activities will raise our ability to recover our health. Reflect on our life, do something to benefit others every day, and let happiness to be our lives’ objectives. When we do things that make us unhappy, or that harm the lives of others (e.g., manufacturing weapons or poisons, slaughtering animals, operating a non-vegetarian restaurant, or cheating others), our lives will be adversely affected. If you harm others or engage in meaningless activities to maintain our lives, this is the time to make a choice. Whether we choose life and death lies in our momentary thoughts.

When we discover the mission of our lives, we will experience bountiful joy that cannot be bought by money. We should not ignore the power of visualization, which can help us recover our health. Visualization of golden light can help raise our immune system. Select and practice one or two methods among the many methods designed to heal our minds. Ask ourselves how we can make our lives more meaningful, and how we can harness our interests and abilities towards activities that will benefit more people. In the process of helping others, we will benefit ourselves. Cancer is not merely a localized hard lump in the body – only by balancing our body and mind will we thoroughly prevent and heal cancer.


Green Consumerism and The Greening of The Planet

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Every concerned person when faced with the ecological and environmental changes taking place on the earth will try to protect it from further contamination. These challenges to the earth’s ecology and environment are directly related to consumerism. Because we are all consumers, we should try our best to adopt a spending lifestyle that best protects the earth and that will encourage the development of ‘green’ business aimed at rejuvenating the earth. How do consumers effectively improve the environment? The Union of Concerned Scientists has some suggestions. These suggestions are based on information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California research reports and focus on damage to human health and the ecology.

Problems attributable to human activities include air pollution, global warming, habitat alteration, and water pollution.

Air Pollution
The major sources of outdoor pollutants include ozone and micro-particles that come from combustion of petrochemicals such as fuel and gas from power stations. Research reports from California estimate that 3000 people die annually from these causes, 60,000 to 200,000 children have lung infection, and 2 million children suffer from asthma. In the U.S.A, 64,000 of the deaths are caused by pollutant particles that are smaller than 10 micrometres.

Other toxic pollutants come from evaporation of chemicals used in farms, and waste from chemical and metallurgic processes, sewage treatment plants etc. Although the direct impact of these pollutants is not clear, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 2000 of cancer cases every year are attributable to about 20 kinds of uncontrolled pollutants. Air pollution leads to acid rain that destroys forests and wildlife. In the U.S.A, about 1200 (4%) lakes have become totally acidic and cannot support any life forms.

Global Warming
The earth’s temperature has been increasing by about 0.5oC to 1oC every 100 years. Melting glaciers and rising sea levels are indications of the extent of global warming. Man-made factors are primary reasons for this phenomenon. If the discharge of carbon dioxide continues, experts predict that the temperature in the 21st century will increase by a few degrees Celsius. On the surface, it may seem that there is little harm in having the temperature rise by a few degrees. However, there are serious consequences – the distribution of rainfall may be adversely affected, sea levels may rise, and coastlines may be changed. In addition, the ecological balance may be affected: man’s health can be harmed by more air pollutants (which increase when temperature rises), and both water and food can also be polluted. In this aspect, the U.S.A. has the greatest reponsibility – although it only has 5% of the world’s population, it generates 20% of all greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.

Habitat Alteration
Damage to the natural ecology of wildlife comes from reckless destruction of forests, use of agricultural chemicals, and marine fishing. Water usage by the farm industry and urbanization are also contributory factors. Wild animals and plants play a critical role in cleaning our water and air, preventing floods, cleaning pollutants, and pollinating seeds. Needless to say, they provide the emotional and spiritual benefits to humans.

Pollution of Water Supplies
Some industries continue to dump toxic chemicals into our water supplies, poisoning the water and the fish living inside, and killing the plants there. Some of these toxic chemicals include mercury, cadmium, heavy metals, petrochemical waste, and pesticides from farms and homes. In Florida this year, a chemical-contaminated lake led to the death of about 1,200 water birds. In addition, soil eroding to the sea and lakes from farms, logging areas, and construction sites block out sunlight, and lead to the destruction of waterborne plants. Discharge from chemical fertilizers and animal waste from livestock also result in water contamination.

These problems arise from seven activities of the consumer:

  • Use of automobiles and light truck
  • Production of meat and poultry
  • Production of fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Use of air conditioners, heaters, and hot water in the home
  • Use of home appliances and lighting
  • Construction of houses
  • Use of water in the home, and sewerage

The first of these activities cause the greatest damage to the environment; the last of these activities cause the least harm. In terms of global warming due to the discharge of exhaust fumes, 32% come from transportation, 35% from homes, and 12% from food production. In terms of production of toxic fumes, 51% come from traffic, 20% from homes, and 9% from food production. In terms of water pollution, 23% come from traffic, 14% from homes, and 22% from food production. In terms of ecological damage due to water usage, 2% come from traffic, 11% from homes, and 73% from food production. In terms of ecological damage due to land usage, 15% come from traffic, 4% from homes, and 45% from food production.

Effective environmental protection must, therefore, target at transportation, food production, and household operation.


  • Choose to live in a place that reduces the need to drive.
  • Consider carefully before buying an automobile. If one does not need to buy an automobile, don’t buy it.
  • Use automobiles that are fuel-efficient and low polluting.
  • Plan to have fewer vacations.
  • To the extent possible, walk, ride bicycles, or use public transportation.

Food Production

  • Consume less meat
  • Use organic products


  • Carefully choose your home – the smaller the better. The home need not be big and should be designed to save on heating and air conditioning.
  • Minimize expenses on heating and hot water.
  • Use energy-saving lights and electrical appliances.
  • Choose energy sources derived from the sun and the wind.

In our daily lives, we should reduce spending on activities that damage the environment. We should also encourage ‘green’ business and use products that protect the environment. Here is an illustration.

Effective Micro-organisms (EM) comes from the combination of 80 beneficial microorganisms, including bacteria that are either aerobic (oxygen-loving) or anaerobic (oxygen-hating). Many of these organisms are derived from making of soy sauce, sauerkraut, and the process is similar to making wine and yoghurt. EM was accidentally discovered by Professor TeruoHiga in 1982, and is now used in natural farming, health maintenance, cancer cures, raising animals, treatment of garbage and sewerage systems, cleaning of ponds, rivers, and lakes, and neutralization of damage caused by acid rain. Thailand and Brazil’s farms are the largest users of EM. EM can decompose man-made chemical pollutants. For example, it can rapidly restore land that has been poisoned by chemicals and improve production quantity and quality. EM can remove the odour in the home compost, and rapidly decompose kitchen waste. If every family converts their kitchen waste to compost, problems associated with garbage disposal will be eliminated. Every family can then grow their own vegetables and beautify their surroundings with the plants and flowers they grow. EM can also clean sewage ponds and reduce pollution to the rivers and seas.

Other ‘green’ examples abound, and await the discovery, introduction, and discovery by all of us. This is the time for us to find a means to save the earth and take practical actions.


Snacks Made From Natural Fermentation

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Grains rely on natural bacteria to ferment. Fermented wheat products are easy to digest, and the minerals within are easily absorbed. Commercially available baking powder and yeast do not have this advantage.

Below is a description of how ‘Starter’ is made and used:

  1. Foster of bacteria:
  • Add half a pound of organic raisins to three cups of water. Squeeze the raisins to release their fructose. The water will turn dark. Leave in room temperature for two to three days.
  • Add a cup of wheat berries to three cups of water and leave in room temperature for two to three days. Remove any mold that appears; mold and yeast grow under the same environment.

Both raisins and wheat grains possess natural yeast.

  1. Three days later, measure two cups of raisin or wheat water, and add six cups of flour (1.5 pounds of wheat flour or mixture of wheat and barley flour). Put this mixture into a container (having a capacity three times the volume of the mixture) and put in room temperature for 24 hours. Thereafter, put into a refrigerator for 24 hours. The ‘starter’ has been formed.
  2. Mix two cups of starter with two cups of water and six cups of flour. Place in room temperature for 24 hours and then in a refrigerator for another 3 days (discard the remainder and use as a compose). This starter can be used to make various kinds of wheat products. Its shelf life (when kept in the refrigerator) is up to three weeks, after which a new mixture should be prepared. The proportion is always two cups of starter to two cups of water and six cups of flour. Ideally, a new starter should be used each time. The longer the starter is kept, the better the flavor, and a one-year-old starter is particularly good. For example, sourdough bread (common in the western countries) is made using this method. Traditionally, people share starters among each other.

When a new starter mixture is needed, simply put the starter overnight in room temperature or in a refrigerator for three days.

Natural Fermented Flat Bread

  • Half a cup of starter
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 3 to 3.5 cups of flour (choose one to three of the following: wheat, buckwheat or barley)
  • Half a tablespoon of sea salt

Mix starter and water and add flour and sea salt. Knead for ten minutes and then leave it in a covered pot (capacity at least three times that of the mixture) overnight. The next day, separate the dough into two or three portions. Roll the portions into same size as a flat pan, with thickness varying according to your liking (¼ to ½ inch thick). Add some sesame seeds if desired. Then, put the dough onto a plate coated with a layer of oil, and cover with cloth or a plate. Place in room temperature for two to three hours. Warm the flat pan to medium heat, add some oil if necessary. Place the dough on the pan and cover it. Five minutes later, turn the dough over after observing that the bottom surface has turned to a golden hew.

The method for preparing buns is similar to that described above. Leave the dough overnight and then knead into long strips and cut into pieces. Ingredients may be inserted into the bun if desired. Place the dough into a steamer for two to three hours. Then steam it for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Ensure that the steamer has a coat of oil or a piece of moist cloth before placing the dough. Remove the buns immediately after steaming and place them onto a plate to allow the heat to dissipate.

To make steam bread, just steam the long strip dough.

As before, the preparation method for pizza is similar to that for making flat bread. After left overnight for fermentation, flatten the dough into strips 1/8 inch thick, and place onto a baking pan coated with oil for two to three hours. Thereafter, heat the oven till it is about 500oF, and bake the dough for about eight minutes. After this, add some toppings before resuming the baking for another five minutes. Below are some suggestions for toppings:

  • Put some strips of tomato, mushrooms, green or red pepper, Italian gourd, olive on the surface of the pizza. Sprinkle some organic cheese (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella etc) and cold-pressed olive oil.
  • Add some 5-minute boiled or steamed spinach. Shreds of parsley and Chinese herb Zisu, as well as some crushed pieces of pine nuts. Sprinkle some organic cheese.
  • Soak some dried bean curd strips and then steam them (may use fresh bean curd strips). Cut into small strips. Soak some mushrooms, cut them into small strips, and then fry them. Mix the mushroom and the bean curd strips with sesame oil, soy sauce, small pieces of water chestnut, and boiled napa cabbage strips. Spread this topping on the pizza.

Waffle and Pancake

  • 2 cups of flour (two-third buckwheat flour, one-third other kinds)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/3 cup of starter
  • A little sea salt

Mix all the ingredients and leave in room temperature for eight hours or more. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil on the waffle iron or a flat pan, pour the mixture into it and bake until golden brown. A layer of maple syrup or some sweet fruits can also be placed on top of the waffle or pancake.

Sourdough Bread

  • 1 cup of starter
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 6 cups of flour (wheat, buckwheat or barley as desired; the combination of wheat and barley is most common)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt

Add water to the starter, and then add two cups of flour and salt. Mix well, and then add another two cups of flour. Again, mix well and then add the final two cups of flour. Knead the dough until soft and leave overnight. The next day, separate the dough into two portions, and knead them into long strips. Place these strips onto an oiled plate and leave in room temperature for two to three hours. Pre-heat the oven to 450oF. Put a dish of water in the oven (to bring the oven temperature down to about 400oF) and bake the dough for 30 to 40 minutes. Take out the bread and leave it on an airy rack. If the bread is kept frozen in a paper bag, it can retain its freshness for a long time. If the bread becomes dry and hard, steam it for a while before eating. In Europe, dried bread can be kept up to a year. To eat the bread, soak it in water and then bake it in an oven.

Among all the items described above, the baking time of the flat bread is shortest and therefore least susceptible to damage to its nutrients. The steamed bun or bread also has good nutrition. Baked bread is prone to more damage to its nutrients, but because it is naturally fermented, its nutrition is still higher than that from commercially available bread. Its energy level is also higher.