I recently had a huge fight with a macrobiotic friend over the "deadly" importance of such alien foods as nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and a few others), dairy products and fresh fruit.
Now, I've been a macrobiotic myself for years and I was not arguing for MacDonalds, just saying that to complement a mostly-vegetarian diet with small amounts of good quality "forbidden" foods is not a "sin".
I was so shocked by the out-of-proportion reaction of this apparently very open friend that I begun questioning my beliefs. And my conclusion was the same as Dr. Bratman: friends, it's all very well to eat healthy food but let's get real, food is food and if we were not so spoiled for choice we would eat whatever was available as our ancestors always did. I'm deeply appreciative of the positive way macrobiotic guidelines have helped me improve my diet but macrobiotic people (me included untill this friend's overzeal shocked me out of it) do tend to become fanatic and semi-religious about food.
Of one thing my friend was right: I ended up realising that I no longer am a macrobiotic, have not been one for years... Fortunately for me, my easy nature has slowly led me to the much more gratifying and tolerant vegetarian way... but for years the choice of what to eat (and the self-righteous feeling of being among the few chosen) were high up in my scale of interests... what a waste! Most people will not even understand what macrobiotics are talking about when they speak of yin food, or why is a vast list of normal and traditional western foods "forbidden".
Does it seem reasonable to argue that while dairy food is "poisenous" (no matter that being used by humans for millenia) strange (and delicious, but that's not the point) food from Japan is vital for your well-being? Now, does this seem to you to have something to do with Macrobiotics being invented by a Japanese and that dairy food was unknown in Japan before being introduced by us, "barbarians"?
Same applies to fresh fruit: I like fresh fruit and not only do I eat it daily as I eat it raw, the way nature provides us with it. Does this sound a bad habit to you? It would if you were macrobiotic because fresh fruit is too "Yin" in the macrobiotic view and thus creates an inbalance in anyone who eats it. Ditto for salads.
But are really the philosophical and religious concepts of "Yin" and "Yang" the best tools to choose a lifestyle? Most macrobiotic people I know are coffee addicts and smoke heavily: they tend to think this is OK because caffeine and smoking are considered "Yang".
This is so widespread that I had never thought about it before but clearly you have a psychological problem if you think that an apple or a bit of cheese are worse for your health than coffee and cigarettes.
And this is all that Dr Bratman says: people with these behaviour problems should seek help. Having had a narrow escape myself, I couldn't agree more.