My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

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okra
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My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

Post: #235616 okra
Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:40 am

Our way of life is unsustainable, as we cannot go on forever with our high energy and consumerist lifestyles because the resources we depend on are not limitless. We must break away from our dependence on oil, on which our food systems are especially reliant.

The world's food supply is heavily dependent on vast amounts of oil to manufacture fertilisers and pesticides which are destroying the soil we depend on. Oil is needed in all stages of food production from planting to harvesting and from processing to distribution. Agriculture and the industrialised food system is now one of the biggest consumers of oil and one of the biggest contributors to global warming.

We have in the last 100 years distanced ourselves from the realities of nature and perhaps by looking back to how life was we could learn some lessons.

My grandparents were from a small village in Cyprus and lived off the land. They produced most of their own organic food without any machinery by using manual labour. They kept pigeons, chickens, goats and sheep. My grandmother used a hand loom to make their own clothes from their own wool and cotton. They ground their own flour from their own grain and baked their own bread, using an outdoor mud-brick oven fuelled by gathered wood. They also heated their home in the winter using local wood. Their local transport was by means of horse and cart or donkey and the horse was also used to plough the fields. They needed very little money but any surplus milk or crops they had were sold or bartered for goods and services they needed.

Their diet was based heavily on olive oil, olives, vegetables, fruit, unrefined cereals and foraged wild food. Consumption of meat and dairy products was minimal and food was seasonal. This Cypriot Mediterranean diet resulted in good health and longevity and scientific studies have shown that this traditional diet was nutritionally very balanced and met the bodies needs.

There was no electricity or running water in the village until the late 1940's. Village life was simple and communal, the villagers worked the fields daily and tended to their animals and chickens which provided them with meat, eggs and milk. Goats milk was their most valuable product as it allowed them to produce halloumi or hellim a Cypriot cheese used for centuries. Winter diets were predominantly made up of preserved dried pulses and legumes.

They had vine groves and as well as enjoying the fruit, they made their own wine and zivania which is a traditional Cypriot distillate produced from the residue of grapes pressed during wine making.

However, it was not all good and my grandparents generation sometimes suffered hardship and deprivation if crops failed. Their children, like many thousands on Cypriots, left for a better life to the UK, Australia or the USA. Although we cannot go back to being subsistence farmers, we can learn some lessons from our near past:

We can reduce our consumerist lifestyles, be more self reliant, and live more cooperatively in small scale local sustainable economies.

We can focus on providing a life which is safe, comfortable and efficient but which is not wasteful or damaging to the environment.

We can as individuals and nations focus on growing as much of our own organic food as possible and move away from the madness of transporting food all over the globe.

Maybe this is all a bit idealistic but will we have a choice.

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Re: My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

Post: #235623 boboff
Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:18 am

There endeth the lesson, now will we all stand and sing Hym 112, All things Bright and Beautifull.

Preaching to the Converted here Okra!
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Re: My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

Post: #235626 Mrs H
Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:29 am

Okra it is indeed the perfect life!! And although I don't believe farming should return to cart and horse days on large scale facillities I do believe people need to remember what hard work is!!! I feel like people have forgotten the enjoyment of working of the land and eating what they produce. For us here at home its hardwork or no work because we can't afford machinery!!! And although I may bitch and moan about it when jobs r finished I do have a great feeling of satisfaction that it was sweat and tears that did it!! Xxx

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Re: My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

Post: #235630 Green Aura
Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:42 am

We've just had a visit from relatives - not seen them in about 5 years, certainly since we moved up here. They've gone now and we were just commenting on how unbearably consumerist they are.

What I can't remember is if they were always like that and we just didn't notice, or were we like that too :shock: I think not.

At one point we would have been classed as a "technologically advanced" family but now we seems to be going backwards, not even standing still :lol: Apart from laptops and a dishwasher (sorry that's non-negotiable - I don't want a divorce! :lol: ) we don't have much in the way of gadgets and try to do everything around the house ourselves, rather than getting someone in. The garden is taking forever, due to both of us working and lousy weather, but it will (hopefully) keep us more or less self-sufficient in veg. Still not sure about livestock - I'd love chickens and a goat but OH is unsure.

But I feel like we're much nearer to a nice balance. I don't want to return to the life they had up here in you grandparents time, almost totally isolated and bloody hard work.

But this slavery to "oooh shiny" must have that frankly sickens me these days (I'm just hoping it always did! :lol: )
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

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Re: My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

Post: #235631 boboff
Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:57 am

I agree with that totally.

It is a question of what is important to you.

I am lucky enough to have a wife who has just qualified as a Nurse and we have a bit more money. Rather than Holidays etc we have spent mainly on the house ( an oven & hob & dishwasher that works, a worktop that doesn't get T stained, a stainless splash back.... I always wanted one) and the garden ( a new log shed next to the lounge with a door knocked through so it's " internal", and a rather lovely Composting Toilet) It has cost allot, but after three years of scrimping it's these thing that I wanted to have, as it will allow us to be a more sustainable unit in the long term. You don't have to live in poverty to care about the planet though, and fact we still want a decent standard of living I suppose we could feel guilty about, but I don't as I would rather be comfortable and sustainable than getting fed up with it and going back to more consumerist ways.

I am getting the kids dressed now to come and pick blackcurrants, this is more fun than a trip to the fun fair, Arcades, or what ever else we could be doing, that is my balance, yeah my grandparents did it too ( and some of the plants are theirs) but the fact they lived with an outside Toilet and that was seen as "backward" yet I am building one again, does seem Ironic in a way.

Bloody bunch of hippies we are!
Millymollymandy wrote:Bloody smilies, always being used. I hate them and they should be banned.
No I won't use a smiley because I've decided to turn into Boboff, as he's turned all nice all of a sudden. Grumble grumble.

http://boboffs.blogspot.co.uk/

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okra
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Re: My Cypriot grandparents - lessons we could learn

Post: #235660 okra
Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:00 pm

boboff wrote:There endeth the lesson, now will we all stand and sing Hym 112, All things Bright and Beautifull.

Preaching to the Converted here Okra!


Yep Boboff I suppose I do get a bit carried away sometimes


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