In the United States, the agricultural system is heavily industrialized, and relies on inputs such as diesel, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and, perhaps most importantly, financing. In the current financial climate, the farmers’ access to financing is not at all assured. This agricultural system is efficient, but only if you regard fossil fuel energy as free. In fact, it is a way to transform fossil fuel energy into food with a bit of help from sunlight, to the tune of 10 calories of fossil fuel energy being embodied in each calorie that is consumed as food. The food distribution system makes heavy use of refrigerated diesel trucks, transporting food over hundreds of miles to resupply supermarkets. The food pipeline is long and thin, and it takes only a couple of days of interruptions for supermarket shelves to be stripped bare. Many people live in places that are not within walking distance of stores, not served by public transportation, and will be cut off from food sources once they are no longer able to drive.
February 13, 2009
Social Collapse Best Practices
[It’s harvest time on the farm. I’m going to visit and drive combine for a while. It’s been a couple years since I did that and it’s time to satisfy that urge again.
The farm visit reminded me of the above quote. We do burn lots of fuel on the farm and of course the fuel consumption is far from over by the time the crop is delivered to the grain elevator in town.–Joe]