Macrobiotic diets are winning more followers every day in Cuba since it turns out that simultaneously feeding and maintaining one’s health is the premise of this eating regime created by the Italian sculptor Mario Pianesi.
Eating so as to lose weight, stabilize one’s blood pressure, control diabetes and even free one of terminal cancer are the objectives of this “unorthodox approach to food.”
The macrobiotic diet is marking ten years since it first came to Cuba. Sponsored by the Finlay Institute, specifically by the eminent scientist Dr. Concepcion Campa, the result is that today there’s beginning to exist a culture of healthy eating in Cuba. Notwithstanding, along with this incipient community were born inescapable vicissitudes required to eat strictly in accordance with the demands of the diet.
Bethania is the only store in Cuba that officially sells macrobiotic products. The problem is that these go for unaffordable prices. Indispensable products for macrobiotic diets include ones like brown rice (500g cost around $5 USD) and bancha tea (50g also sells for around $5 USD).
Also indispensable to the diet is Azuki (a bean that is harvested on the hillsides of volcanoes, thereby giving it substantial healing properties), as well as sesame oil, both sold at “boutique” prices at Bethania (located on Amargura and San Ignacio streets in Old Havana).
The upshot then is that Bethania turns out to be far too expensive for Cuban workers or their family members who need to follow this diet for health purposes.
This situation is ethically worsened when patients find out from one of the doctors associated with the project — called “a macrobiotic point for Cuba” — that the diet’s creator Mario Pianesi sells his products at cost to the Cuban government.
I don’t know if it’s the government or the city historian’s office who’s charging prices for these products at up to six times their value.
Why is the government trying to make money off something designed to promote health? Why don’t they instead try to make it easier for people who need macrobiotic diets to these access foods, facilitating them to at least obtain brown rice and bancha tea at affordable prices?
The current prices leave almost abandoned those people for whom the diet is a hope for resolving their ills. The high costs also frustrate those who would otherwise follow the diet as a way of conserving their health through these food-medicines that are not so invasive with respect to the human body.
Where are we going to find the generosity and humanism that is always talked about in the official Cuban media?