Economics, Farming & Great Lent

Posted by: Wolfgang

Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/06/12 03:45 AM

I was wondering if anyone could answer a question I have? Since Orthodox Christians are supposed to fast from dairy products, meat, fish, etc. during Lent, what happens to the prices of these items in Orthodox countries during Lent? If demand drops, the prices should plummet. Are farmers and fishermen subsidized by the government during Lent in Orthodox countries? Having grown up on a farm, I know that cows have to be milked twice a day. If consumption plummets, what happens to all that milk and all those eggs?
Posted by: Thomas the Seeker

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/06/12 04:58 AM

Before modern agriculture (aritficial insemination of dairy cattle), Confined Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO), etc, the Lenten fast was closely aligned with the annual seasonal rhythm of the northern hemisphere.

Dairy cows were drying off in preparation for their annual spring calving; chickens likewise had nearly ceased to lay. In short, fasting touched all of society, the reverant and the irreverant alike. But Christians were uniquely blessed to be able to join their sacrifice to our Lord's sojourn in the desert.
Posted by: Paul B

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/06/12 11:41 PM

I would think that the milk which they had would have been made into cheese and butter. Also hrudka contains lots of eggs.
Posted by: theophan

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/07/12 12:17 AM

Quote:
chickens likewise had nearly ceased to lay


My grandmother used to relate how eggs were preserved in the fall for use over the winter and into the spring (before WW1 and up to WW2). She called it "water glassing." From the description, it was some sort of thick liquid that eggs were placed into and then the crock that held them all was kept in a cool cellar with the potatoes, apples, etc. Water glassed eggs were good for baking, but not for eating as one would for breakfast, however.

Quote:

water glass
water glass or soluble glass,colorless, transparent, glasslike substance available commercially as a powder or as a transparent, viscous solution in water. Chemically it is sodium silicate, potassium silicate, or a mixture of these. It is prepared by fusing sodium or potassium carbonate with sand or by heating sodium or potassium hydroxide with sand under pressure. Water glass is very soluble in water, but the glassy solid dissolves slowly, even in boiling water. Water glass has adhesive properties and is fire resistant. It is used as a detergent; as a cement for glass, pottery, and stoneware; for fireproofing paper, wood, cement, and other substances; for fixing pigments in paintings and cloth printing; and for preserving eggs (it fills the pores in the eggshell, preventing entrance of air).

Read more: water glass Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/sci/A0851590.html#ixzz1oO0wNGOY


Meat must have in short supply by Lent, too, since they canned the beef and pork they used over the winter in the fall.

Bob
Posted by: JDC

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/07/12 01:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Thomas the Seeker
Before modern agriculture (aritficial insemination of dairy cattle), Confined Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO), etc, the Lenten fast was closely aligned with the annual seasonal rhythm of the northern hemisphere.


Oh be careful! That kind of "lent aligned with the seasons and creation" point of view almost smacks of an argument against the Julian calendar! wink
Posted by: Wolfgang

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/07/12 01:52 PM

However, we do now have modern agriculture. And milk cows have been bred over the years to give larger quantities of milk. Take, for example, Holstein cattle. Also, most family farms still use bulls, which are more than happy to work year round smile. Milk is stored in large, cooled tanks on farms and is picked up by large trucks a couple of times a week. What happens to all that milk if consumption drops? Do governments in Orthodox countries subsidize farmers when the price drops during fasts? Surely, not all of it can be made into butter and cheese.
Also, chickens have been bred over the years to produce more eggs. Take, for example, Leghorn chickens. On egg farms, hens are replaced every 18 months, ensuring an abundant supply of eggs year round. What happens to all those eggs in Orthodox countries?
Posted by: Paul B

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/07/12 03:44 PM

Ice cream, anyone? After Pascha, of course!
Posted by: Our Lady's slave

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/07/12 04:03 PM

I'll have some fruit sorbet now biggrin
Posted by: dochawk

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/08/12 04:39 AM

Originally Posted By: JDC

Oh be careful! That kind of "lent aligned with the seasons and creation" point of view almost smacks of an argument against the Julian calendar! wink


So just what happens when you cross a Julian cow with a Gregorian bull?

smile

hawk
Posted by: JimG

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/08/12 01:42 PM

http://photo-junction.blogspot.com/2010/07/two-headed-calf-photos.html

Maybe that is where two headed calves come from.
Posted by: Alice

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/08/12 02:19 PM

Pastor Thomas and Bob,

Thank you for wonderfully informative posts! smile

Wolfgang:

Until the fall of the Soviet Empire, the only 'Orthodox' country, per se, was Greece..Since atleast the 80's, which I can remember from, the largest contigent of those who fast were the old timers. In Athens, where about 1/3 of the whole country now resides, very few people fast the full fast and/or the full period of time.

However, you do make a good point, and even if fasting is not widespread, I would think that it would put small neighborhood butchers in a tough financial position! I was wondering about this the other day, actually!

As for milk and dairy, I would assume that little children still required this (47 days is a long time to deprive a growing child of its calcium requirements) so I am sure that in the past as today, from what I have seen, most children are not fasting from these and thus, their supply is still in demand.

The funny thing about Athens (and I have been there during Lent a few times) is that it is unbelievably easy to fast if you want to--all restaurants/tavernas serve the delicious 'ladera' (fasting food prepared with 'oil' and no meat)--a vegetarian's delight! You can find spinach pies with no cheese, and even McDonald's (a place I generally despise) has two Orthodox style 'Lenten' dishes on its menu!

On the other hand, since the 80's, in conjunction with the fasting food, one also smells the aroma of the 'psistaries' (barbeques which are common in tavernas and restaurants) going full force with delectable meat dishes (lamb and chicken gyro, lamb, pork and chicken souvlaki, the most delicious meatball/hamburgers called 'biftek' --sort of like the Lebanes kibbe, etc.)--and because of that aroma wafting through the air, *those* were probably the most difficult Lenten periods I ever experienced!
Posted by: Wolfgang

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/09/12 05:19 AM

Thank You for all your replies. Alice, I also learned something new from Bob & Pastor Thomas. Life really was much harder for previous generations. And I fear that, if our current food-production system broke down, many people would not know how to grow their own food and preserve it. My paternal grandparents slaughtered their hogs & cattle in the fall and canned the meat, before there were freezers. They also butchered a chicken every Saturday for their Sunday dinner. As a young boy, I remember watching them kill a chicken on their farm and watching the chicken run around without its head! They also canned lots of vegetables and fruit. Grandma also made her own sauerkraut, ketchup, etc. They lived through the Great Depression and were survivors!
Thank You Alice for your first-hand experience in Greece during Lent. Historians always say that nothing beats a primary witness!
Posted by: theophan

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/09/12 02:10 PM

Wolfgang:

Not only farmers, but even people who lived within the limits of small rural towns did this subsistence farming on their properties. My great grandparents and grandparents each maintained a second lot either adjacent or very close to their residence so that every inch was gardened and every bit was preserved for theri over-the-winter living. They scoured the wooded areas for blueberies, blackberries, elderberries; made their own wine, sauerkraut, ketsup, mustard, and mayonaise; raised chickens, a turkey, and a goose at the end of the property. This only stopped after WW2 when these same towns adopted ordinances forbidding such activity. Eventually everyone planted grass on their lots as times became easier and grocery stores could provide what was needed.

Bob
Posted by: Alice

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/09/12 03:19 PM

Oh dear, if anything ever happens, I will starve--not knowing a poison berry from an edible one on a bush! HOWEVER, I do know one thing that is very easy, and was, from what I understand the way that many Greeks were able to survive the Nazi occupation (they didn't allow them any food and thousands starved to death)--WEEDS!!--Those ugly dandelion weeds growing and sprouting up in your lawns! They are DELICIOUS and exceptionally nutritious!

Greeks still LOVE them, (and I have finally learned to as well)...just boil them and douse them with extra virgin olive oil, a little salt, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. My husband says that his grandmother used to give them the water it was boiled in to drink as well, since many of the nutrients were in it...to this they added lemon juice.

Here is a funny: On the grassy sides of the highways of the boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, for instance) one does not occasionally spot deer like in the suburbs, but old Greek and Italian women dressed in black skirts and scarves, hunched over, digging for: Dandelion Greens!!! So many people probably see them and do not know what in the world they are doing!! grin
Posted by: Thomas the Seeker

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/09/12 08:58 PM

Local zoning laws have brought the demise of the backyard chickenhouse and family cow. In many small older towns you can still see the outbuildings which used to provide a family's milk and eggs.

In Pennsylvania everyone runs to the store for milk and eggs whenever there is a hint of winter precipitation. A century ago you might have needed to stock up on hay and chickenfeed, but your own foodstuffs were just a shovel path away.
Posted by: StuartK

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/09/12 09:36 PM

Everyone should remember that the ancient agricultural cycle of the Mediterranean basin was very different from that on the other side of the Alps. There were no cows, there were no sheep or pigs or much of anything during the winter months, because all but a handful to be kept alive for breeding purposes were slaughtered in autumn, there not being enough fodder to keep large herds alive through winter. Most of the meat was eaten immediately, some of it was smoked or salted. The staple lenten food in the north was cheese and fish, much of it smoked. Portuguese, Basque, Breton and British fishermen earned their livelihood providing smelt and cod for the Catholic population of Northwestern Europe.

Note also that in the Mediterranean world, few people drank milk, because of a common genetic mutation that conveys lactose intolerance. Cheese was eaten in small amounts (cheese being half-digested already, it's easier on the GI tract). Butter was used not at all--which is why the injunction against olive oil is such a hardship. Meat was eaten very seldom except by the wealthy. Fish was considered a luxury, too, in the Mediterranean (I'm not sure why), but shellfish was peasant food, which no self-respecting Roman or Greek would touch.
Posted by: Jaya

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/10/12 12:39 AM

Originally Posted By: theophan
Not only farmers, but even people who lived within the limits of small rural towns did this subsistence farming on their properties. My great grandparents and grandparents each maintained a second lot either adjacent or very close to their residence so that every inch was gardened and every bit was preserved for theri over-the-winter living. They scoured the wooded areas for blueberies, blackberries, elderberries; made their own wine, sauerkraut, ketsup, mustard, and mayonaise; raised chickens, a turkey, and a goose at the end of the property. This only stopped after WW2 when these same towns adopted ordinances forbidding such activity. Eventually everyone planted grass on their lots as times became easier and grocery stores could provide what was needed.

This is exactly the way people lived in Bulgaria when I was there (1996-2005). Every inch of the backyard was covered with vegetables growing, and fruit trees (plums, cherries, apples, pears, peaches, figs), and trellises with all kinds of grapes I'd never seen before, and then a few little outbuildings for chickens, some folks I knew would raise a pig and slaughter it in the fall, or rabbits even. When Gergyovden (St George's Day) came, I knew many people who went to the open animal market and bought a live lamb, which they then brought home and slaughtered. Some of the meat is sometimes hung up in strips to dry. Families still can vegetables, fruits, jams, various relishes and condiments, and yes, even meat. And it's canned in a boiling-water bath, no pressure cooker. Canning is done outside in the yard, often over an open fire. (I remember the first time I was served home-canned sheep meat from a somewhat beat-up looking glass jar. I admit I was a bit nervous about it!) And I used to go out into the fields and forests outside the town with my Bulgarian friends, gathering nettles, dandelion, and wild sorrel in the spring, and chestnuts, thyme, rose hips, and mushrooms in the fall. It was an amazing and wonderful experience. "Lawns" and grass were pretty much unknown when I was first there. Over the years, they began to appear here and there among the "nouveau riche," a very small segment of the society. I loved the earthy beauty and aliveness of the traditional Bulgarian backyard, and found the phenomenon of the modern and sterile-looking American lawn, and yard, very depressing when I came back!
Posted by: Paul B

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/10/12 06:40 PM

To all,

Preserve this knowledge, for the time may come when we also have to go back to this time. Even if it is not economically necessary, it is healthier than storebought and processed food.

It is incredible to me how much food we Americans throw away. I have reprimanded my grandchildren when I see them throw food in the wastebasket. Even an unwanted bread crust can be fed to the dog, or crumbled and scattered outside for the birds.
Posted by: theophan

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/10/12 07:03 PM

Paul B:

My mother-in-law, may God rest her soul, used to save every bit of stale bread, bread crusts, etc. and rub them across her grater to make the breading she later used to coat chicken or fish. Never was anything wasted.

Bob
Posted by: StuartK

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 02:40 AM

Let's not flog ourselves or view our ancestors through rose-colored glasses. They were just as wasteful as we are, albeit in different ways. Even the Indians--excuse me, "Native Americans" (or "First Settlers" for you Canadians--though the Indians were in fact neither) were incredibly wasteful--driving whole herds of buffalo off of cliffs, then just skinning them and taking the hump and the tongue; or using slash-and-burn agricultural methods along the East Coast, moving on and repeating as often as the soil got depleted (the U.S. is more forested today than it was in 1492). In Meso-America and the American Southwest, various cultures rose and fell, all victims of self-inflicted demographic or environmental catastrophe. As compared to them, we are fairly responsible stewards of the land, not to mention breadbasket of the world.
Posted by: JDC

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 05:01 AM

Originally Posted By: StuartK
Even the Indians--excuse me, "Native Americans" (or "First Settlers" for you Canadians--though the Indians were in fact neither)


It's "First Peoples" or "First Nations" here. Unless you ask one of them. They tend to say "Indians".
Posted by: StuartK

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 12:36 PM

All the ones I know do. And I grew up with an Indian family occupying the upstairs apartment in my parents' row house. They were very proudly Mohawk Indians.
Posted by: Paul B

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: StuartK
Let's not flog ourselves or view our ancestors through rose-colored glasses. They were just as wasteful as we are, albeit in different ways.


Stuart,
??? How were the peasants of Eastern Europe wasteful? What did they have to waste?
Posted by: StuartK

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 05:56 PM

Their agricultural methods were intensely wasteful, which is why even someone like Lysenko was able to boost output per acre with some simple changes to planting methods, crop rotation, and plowing. Consider that, with the richest topsoil in the world, wheat output in Ukraine under the Tsars was lower than that of the American dry land prairie on a per acre basis. Their waste was not of the profligate consumption sort, but of the systematic misuse of resources type resulting from resistance to changes in traditional (inefficient) farming techniques.
Posted by: Penthaetria

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 08:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Alice
one also smells the aroma of the 'psistaries' (barbeques which are common in tavernas and restaurants) going full force with delectable meat dishes (lamb and chicken gyro, lamb, pork and chicken souvlaki, the most delicious meatball/hamburgers called 'biftek' --sort of like the Lebanes kibbe, etc.)--and because of that aroma wafting through the air, *those* were probably the most difficult Lenten periods I ever experienced!
Oh, Alice! Did you have to include this? My nostrils are tingling and I'm salivating just at reading this!

Halfway through ... we're halfway through ...
Posted by: Alice

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 09:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Penthaetria
Originally Posted By: Alice
one also smells the aroma of the 'psistaries' (barbeques which are common in tavernas and restaurants) going full force with delectable meat dishes (lamb and chicken gyro, lamb, pork and chicken souvlaki, the most delicious meatball/hamburgers called 'biftek' --sort of like the Lebanes kibbe, etc.)--and because of that aroma wafting through the air, *those* were probably the most difficult Lenten periods I ever experienced!
Oh, Alice! Did you have to include this? My nostrils are tingling and I'm salivating just at reading this!

Halfway through ... we're halfway through ...


Hehehe!! wink
Posted by: Alice

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/11/12 09:55 PM

Originally Posted By: theophan
Paul B:

My mother-in-law, may God rest her soul, used to save every bit of stale bread, bread crusts, etc. and rub them across her grater to make the breading she later used to coat chicken or fish. Never was anything wasted.

Bob


Yes, indeed...bread used to be real bread from a bakery (aka in today's lingo: artisan bread) and real bread goes stale very quickly...but thanks to the days of real bread, those great ideas like Bob's mother-in-law's came...real bread crumbs which coated food, and also in Sicily, they toasted them and used them on many pasta dishes with sea food (a great Lenten/vegan idea)...it was called 'the poor man's parmesan cheese'

In Crete, stale rusk bread was toasted and then used as a bottom layer for Greek salad where the fresh tomatoes juices would soak it with their delicious taste.

Stale bread was also soaked and used in meatballs to extend them and make the characteristically light Greek meatball/'kefte'. My Greek grandparents here in the U.S. used to bake stale bread and dip it into their tea. (This I used to think was 'yuck' when I was a child, but it shows how they grew up using bread in innovative ways so as not to waste it)

In France, stale bread was soaked in egg, milk and flavorings to make the dish we have come to love here in the U.S.: French toast!

I don't know what country they come from, but croutons for salads and soups are also from the idea of using stale bread.

In Lebanon, stale pita bread is used in Greek style salads...and the list goes on and on! Today, in our wasteful and bountiful society, we buy these items, or make these recipes, without knowing that they were originally created to NOT be wasteful!

As I am getting older, I have become so much more careful with food than I was when I was younger...never wasting anything, and I have become so respectful of all these 'old world' ideas.

Posted by: Irish Melkite

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/12/12 02:25 AM

Alice,

Excellent observations! And you left me rolling when you pointed out the use of stale pita bread in salads - very true.

But, as well, in case no one has figured it out, the unsold pita bread produced by real Lebanese and Syrian bakeries (which contains no preservatives, unlike that produced for mass consumption and bought off supermarket shelves by folk who would never think to enter an 'ethnic' bakery/market/grocery, and which most resembles corrugated cardboard) is recycled to produce those bags of pita chips, garlic pita chips, cheese pita chips, etc, which sell extraordinarily well - and for good money.

Many years,

Neil
Posted by: Alice

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/12/12 11:28 PM

Dear Neil,

Quote:
..is recycled to produce those bags of pita chips, garlic pita chips, cheese pita chips, etc, which sell extraordinarily well - and for good money.


I never knew that!

Quote:
pita bread produced by real Lebanese and Syrian bakeries (which contains no preservatives, unlike that produced for mass consumption and bought off supermarket shelves by folk who would never think to enter an 'ethnic' bakery/market/grocery, and which most resembles corrugated cardboard)


LOL and SO true! I buy the real mccoy!

When I was a teenager my friend introduced me to delicious Syrian/Lebanese food. (Her mom was of Lebanese background and her father of Syrian background). Her mom used to serve up a big bowl of tabboule as a salad for days when pizza was ordered in for dinner. Her dad once barbequed kibbe, and I was in heaven! We used to go shop for her mother on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where there was one ethnic store after the other...and there I was also introduced to pita bread with zatar spice baked on...so yummy!






Posted by: Irish Melkite

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/13/12 08:05 AM

Alice,

I have to admit that, though I eat it occasionally, zatah is one of the very, very few Middle Eastern foods for which I've never had a real taste. But, as I say, one of the very, very, few.

Many years,

Neil
Posted by: Alice

Re: Economics, Farming & Great Lent - 03/13/12 03:02 PM

I can see that zatar bread is one of those things that can definitely be an 'acquired taste'! wink