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Byron Shire
December 3, 2022

Frugality is about to make a big comeback

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For too long, the world has been living high on the hog, recklessly wasting resources and causing species after species to become extinct.

Vast forests are still being cleared to grow a crop a few centimetres tall – grass.

The grass is passed through cattle who are then slaughtered for human protein.

It’s a ridiculously wasteful and cruel way to use land that could be returned to wildlife habitat, plant production and enhancing carbon sequestration.

If Nature is to survive in all its diversity, we will need to return to a largely plant-based diet.

The climate crisis is wrecking crops all over the world, not just here in Australia.

Richard Jones.

We are seeing this all unfold before our eyes. Already three hundred million people are on the verge of starvation.  Who knows just how bad this tragedy will get?

Entire nations are going bankrupt. Europe is in recession, and the USA is about to slip into recession. Some optimists think Australia will escape the worst of it, but is that really possible?

I doubt it.

We can see how prices are rising and will likely worsen as our dollar drops in value and the world scrambles for scarce food and energy resources.

Putin’s tragic and cruel war on Ukraine has seriously exacerbated the situation.

Many will suffer this coming winter in the northern hemisphere.

So, what can you and I do to weather the upcoming crisis?

We can look at previous crises to see how populations coped.

What happened during and after World War II? I lived through that and have memories of the shortages. Everything was rationed.

Tucked away somewhere in a suitcase, I still have my old ration book for confectionery.

Sweets were on ration in the UK until February 4, 1953.

All rationing formally ended the following year.

When we first visited France when I was 10, I was amazed to discover we could buy unlimited amounts of delicious Swiss chocolate and we gorged ourselves.

At one point, I recall vividly complaining to my mother that I was not getting my fair share of butter.

She opened the fridge, cut off two ounces from the bar of butter, the week’s ration, and gave it to me.

‘There,’ she said ‘Manage on that. I’ve been giving you some of my ration’.

It was a salutary lesson.

WWII weekly ration 

The weekly ration for adults also included four oz margarine, one fresh egg, four oz bacon and ham, three pints of milk, two oz tea, eight oz sugar, two oz cheese, and 12oz of sweets every four weeks. It was not the best diet!

Only through strict rationing was the British government able to ensure the populace was adequately fed, despite Hitler’s attempts to starve the nation into submission by ordering his U-Boats to sink all merchant shipping heading towards the British Isles. Despite serious risks, many American cargo ships made it through.

What made a gigantic difference though, was the Dig for Victory campaign, started by the Ministry of Food one month after the war started in 1939.

People were encouraged to turn their front and back gardens into vegetable plots.

Allotments were allocated to families on available spare land. Our family was allocated two allotments, because there were two children at that stage.

By the end of the war, there were 1.4 million allotments growing food all over Britain.

Nothing was wasted.

There were no throwaway plastics then. Drinks came in washable bottles with deposits on them. Socks were darned. Shoes were repaired. Times have changed!

Frugality was forced on us at that time by the Nazis.

Now the climate crisis is forcing us to be frugal.

Corporations have created this crisis by persuading people to buy their throw away plastic products in ever increasing quantities, and to be profligate with all resources. Their profits depend on endless growth and waste.

We really need to treat all resources as scarce commodities. We also need to prepare for serious disruptions in food supplies.

Let us think about turning much of the rich land around this district into highly productive organic food producing country, perhaps with a system of share farming, giving young industrious farmers a chance to make a clean living with somewhere to live.

Allotments were a boon in Britain. They can be here too.

As for us, apart from growing much of our food organically, we have acquired an electric cow!

In 60 seconds, we can make delicious milk from hemp seeds, oats, soy beans and nuts, and never again buy those non-recyclable plastic cartons.

It will pay for itself in a few weeks. We are upgrading our solar system to make us virtually independent of the grid.

There are many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, but we really need governments to step in to speed the transition to a renewable future.

Richard Jones is a former NSW MP and is now ceramicist.  


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Being born 77 years ago I can well see & understand what’s sitting right in front of us. It’s not such a frightful situation. It’s the country’s
    wake up time. Forget & forgo the so-called packaged food. Learn to cook [mix & match] the vegs grown in ‘local shared gardens.’ Start
    your list of what’s needed & so on. Design & recreate yesterday’s clothes etc. etc. A challenge is good for the brain & recall how friends
    & family are not aliens.

  2. He is right in what he is saying, we should be looking at allotments for growing vegetables etc. back to rationing on certain items, there are so many people starving on this planet and the way it is looking it is only going to get worse.

  3. David, from your hostile comment it seems you either have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and continued destruction of our planet or simply don’t understand what’s going on. This is not a laughing matter. It’s very likely millions will die in the next twelve months as a direct result of the climate crisis.
    Are you OK with that?

  4. Why is Richard jones making wrong assumptions. The Labor Budget on Tuesday will show that nothing has changed and the rich will still eat high off the hog. The poor will not get a wage rise and the poor will remain poor and in poverty and some will become destitute while the really wealthy will get Tax Cuts. Meanwhile the treasurer says that inflation will stay with us longer even yto the year 2024.25. What has change Richard? NOTHING Has changed. The more things change the more they stay the same.
    Go and re-write the article again.

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