4 Oct

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Guest blogger (also a farmer and an artist) Gerard Oosterman tells it like it is…

Stock up on lentils, the end is nigh.

It must be clear to all of us. The good times are now beginning to fade rather seriously. For far too long we have complained about the over-indulgence of the wealthy, their utter ignorance of what life ought to be about.

Some of us knew that waste was bad. We grew up with that. But, the promise of limitless and endless supply of better and bigger things is what blinded many, especially those born in the late eighties, early nineties, not ever having known to do without, to save up, to delay instant gratification.

The call of the credit card was irresistible. Spend and spend more. The lure of consumerism was calling them up endlessly from somewhere deep within their primitive and fledgling conscience. They barely had the time to grow up into savvy financial adulthood. The debt card (let’s be honest, that’s what it is) drove them on relentlessly. The era of frugality had not yet arrived.

The last few weeks world markets are again heading for seismic shifts. The financial tectonic plates are grinding against each other yet again.  Billions are being wiped off every day. On the (flat-screen) TV we watch anxious faces watching the tumbling numbers on computer screens. Nervous Wall Street floor traders are running again, shouting, throwing arms up in utter despair and wiping sweaty foreheads.

It might perhaps not be as voluntary as we would have liked, none-the-less, it is something that some of us had prayed for. Surely, wanton over the top shopping till we‘re dropping was never supposed to be the goal for most of us to strive for. Aiming for endless growth surely is hardly the stuff of any enlightened person, while millions still have to walk for miles to fill a bucket of water?

Of course, growth in girth did happen and how? With over 50% obesity here in Australia we can only watch in awe the Danes, who have put a limit on girth growth by taxing fat. But, get a load of this; The Danes just have a mere 10% of obese people. Talk about nipping it in the bud!

Here in Australia we just feel that it will all sort itself out through some kind of reliance on the magic of … wait for it…”the market”.  We are adult enough to understand kilojoules, carbon hydrates, and we are not in the business of interfering with big grown-ups. The same with pokies: we are all mature and the sport clubs all support gambling, boozing and brawling afterwards. It’s good for ‘the markets’.

But getting back to our tumbling (western) world economies, has anyone noticed the eerie emptiness of electrical, furniture/ white goods emporiums, the likes of the (euphemistically called) ‘Good Guys” or those screaming ‘get it now’ Harvey Norman shops? What happened to the shoppers?

Has the Age of Aquarius arrived again, the age of frugality, of making do? Our world politicians seem as always frozen in some kind of eternally stuck vinyl recording, in the ‘economic growth’ groove. Entire countries are being bailed out, staving off the inevitable.

The question is; if economic growth is the cause of depleting our world, damaging our world, making the future more and more unlivable, should we not accept, perchance by hook and by crook, and even welcome a stop to this manic obsession with endless growth?

Was it last night’s ABC Four Corners telling us that in the UK 1% of the population own 20 % of its wealth?

Of course, no one has to walk anywhere to get a bucket of water. We might just have to get serious about stocking up on lentil beans. Looking through the acres of rubbish food on super-markets shelving, those little lentils are rather elusive. Strange how good wholesome food is now even harder to get.

Yes, definitely time to stock up the larder. Get your lentils NOW.

Gerard blogs at  Oosterman Treats Blog

9 Responses to “Lentils”

  1. Sam Jandwich October 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    You know Gerard I’ve been banging the same wagon with old cars recently – Volkswagens to be exact! When was the last time any of you drove a VW Beetle, or any other classic car for that matter? Get this, they drive on roads and get you where you want to go, they are simple, easy, and cheap to service, they use only marginally more fuel than a modern car (my ’72 beetle uses 8.5L/100Km – which I’ve been forced to work out because the fuel guage doesn’t work!), they don’t depreciate, and they are so much more fun to drive, and better looking, than modern cars! Buy yourself a copy of Classic and Sportscar magazine, get yourself something nice (and preferably European), and don’t look back! You could probably even convert it to run on lentils.

    Seriously though, I wonder whether the reason more people don’t live frugally is that they would struggle to find things to do with themselves if they weren’t either spending or earning money. It would be a fabulous world if we could devote our present wealth to developing our culture and sense of community, and to preventing things like child abuse and lifestyle-related diseases, but I just really wonder whether most people – myself included admittedly – would have the imagination to figuring out how that would work. Hence my current “if you can’t beat’em, subvert’em” approach, and waiting for technology to get to the point where it can satisfy everyone’s aspirations. Oh well.


    • Jennifer Wilson October 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

      You wouldn’t need to run the car on lentils, you could just use the methane from the human digestive system


      • gerard oosterman October 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

        And those that don’t run a car could ‘export ‘into the system and get credits on lentils. A win win.


      • Sam Jandwich October 5, 2011 at 10:55 am #

        You know I didn’t even see that coming [shaking head].

        But then, perhaps if we were all paid in lentils then we could hook our individualised gas extraction systems up, and we’d be away!

        Or even better, did you know that in the dark post-Soviet days Russians used to be paid in vodka and toilet paper. What else could you possibly need?


  2. gerard oosterman October 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    I used to drive a 1950’s Ford Single Spinner. A magic V8, leather seats with 3 at the front and back. Ash trays, again both front and back. No seat belts. It was my first car, and like the budding breasts of my first love, I’ll never forget.


    • Jennifer Wilson October 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      You sure have a thing about vehicles, Gerard, what with the bus and all 🙂


  3. Steve at the Pub October 5, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    Electrical & whitegoods shops EMPTY of customers? What part of the country are you in?
    They are chockers here, & everybody pays cash. Nobody takes the “finance” options.

    In Australia, one has to get out of the rustbelt & to where there is a hole in the ground. There is plenty of work, & plenty of pay.

    The hard part is talking the nearest Harvey Norman (or whatever) into ordering in for you what it is you want from their brochure/website, rather than what they have in stock.

    Australia has a crisis of labour shortage.


    • gerard oosterman October 5, 2011 at 9:09 am #

      We are in The Southern Highlands- Bowral environs- a haven for red raglan cardigans -pearl and knit- hopeless liberal stranglehold.
      The stats on the consumer continuing consuming are fantastic or horrible, depending on how one feels about endless growth and whether our houses are big enough to hold all those disused chargers, electrical lettuce spinners, knife sharpeners, waffle makers,rice cookers,blenders, juicers,pizza dough makers,baby food grinders,dog walkers,feet warmers,corn removers,nail clippers, nose clippers etc.


    • Sam Jandwich October 5, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      Is it a labour shortage crisis or a labour mobility crisis? There certainly seem to be plenty of under-employed people occupying the pavements of the inner-west of Sydney. I’m glad to see that there are murmerings about removal of stamp duty on residential property, at least in NSW, which if the modelling is correct might free things up. but then when you’re inculcated with stuff you’ve bought from Harvey Norman it’s difficult to hump it all from one place to another while chasing work.


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