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.
This is why a growing numbers of scientists are telling us that our way of life is ecologically and economically unsustainable. A few rich countries are depleting the world's resources whilst the majority of the world lives in poverty. And it would be impossible for all the world's population to all rise to the level of the rich because the earth's resources could not sustain it.. Minerals and fossil fuels are being depleted towards exhaustion and if everybody on the planet consumed as much energy as Americans do we would use up all fossil fuels within 35 years.
We will eventually have to move from fossil fuels to greater use of renewable energy but it's impossible to expect to live our high energy lifestyles on renewable energy sources.
Unfortunately any suggestion of a move to less affluent and simpler lifestyles are usually met with horror in the developed world whilst developing nations also ignore the impending problems as they strive to reach the same standards of living as the richer nations in the shortest possible time.
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.
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: