Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Land

The Land is a magazine written by three people, who if my suspicions are correct are what I would describe as permaculturists, and have come through the hard graft of self-sufficiency and places like Tinkers Bubble. Yet lo and behold the Simon Fairlie of the magazine is being quoted on Radio 4 as the man who might have the answer to our food problems here in Great Britain.
Intrigued after listening to 'Our Food, Our Future' on Monday morning, made me think where is he and the other contributors on the programme are coming from. Are they going back to a medieval past of open common fields, with meat such as pig and sheep being the mainstay of our meat production and dairy products rich in butter, cheese and milk filling in the gap that would give us our energy. Now this diet of pastries, potatoes, roast meat and puddings is of course thought of as oldfashioned given the 'recieved wisdom' the nutritionists who speak out for vegetables and fruit diet, with a certain amount of carbohydrates in the form of pastas, rice and potatoes.
One argument in favour of a more grain based diet is given in the following article in the Independent as to why we should perhaps go back to a more traditional way of eating local food, well suited to our land and climate.

How will the diehard vegetarians and vegans take to such an argument, the point was raised that vegans are just as guilty of 'carbon miles' because of their need, or at least use, of different grains and nuts from other countries. In all I find it intriguing as new ideas are tossed round, one rich 'city banker' with plenty of farming land, (he did'nt farm it though) put forward the argument that we need to get rid of all 'recreational land' that our love affair with horse-riding takes up, though to be quite honest if we have less oil, maybe we'll need those selfsame horses, for pulling the plough, or trotting to market.
People are of course buying up farm land as the 'new gold' to invest in, this brazen disregard of ethics, land is after all there to produce food for everyone, will perhaps bring about some socialists reforms, which are long overdue as 'The City' seems to run our economy with little regard for the wellbeing of everyone, only that 'fatcats' can make more money, in a world market that is beginning to slide on a very slippery slope.
Whatever, as a person perfectly at home with the idea of 'self-sufficiency', the practise will be a great deal more difficult than a few words, but adaptability is a great human virtue.
The following comes from a book written by Dorothy Hartley's 'Food in England'... in which she describes how to cook the foods that were produced in England, and how seasonalty and preserving were the backbone of the economy of rural England, though not advocating that we should go back to such ways, it does at least show that people were able to exist without the use of fridges, freezers and electricity.

This on Preserving;
The womenfolk had no 'thermos' but used non-conducting wood hoggins for cold drinks taken to the harvest fields, or hot broth to the shepherd's night fold. Grease, salves, or ointments were stored in horns. Lanolin from the sheep, marking raddle (which was a mixture of tallow far and red earth), soft fats, such as the semi-liquid goose grease, could be pushed in at the large end of the horn, tied over with pliant bladder and the tip of the horn sawn off, making a primitive 'drop bottle', very useful for pushing along the shed lines of a sheep fleece, and leaving a trail of lubricant as it went along, or would release some oil on to some farm implement. The littlest lambs and babies were fed through shaped horns or thick quills.
Storing of lemons, oranges and pumpkins, onions etc were done in nets. Dried roots of all sorts were bundled in old linen - walnuts were husked by rolling up and down in a sack and were stored in wet salt........


1 comment:

  1. You've even got the same books as me! (Dorothy Hartley anyway!) and some lovely old ones judging by your illustrations.