Conventional wisdom had it that in an age of mechanisation, the cost of producing the food that we eat would decrease as technology found new ways of improving yields and minimising labour costs. But there was a problem that hadn't been factored in. Production methods are now such that 95 per cent of all the food we eat in the world today is oil-dependent.
The 'black gold' is embedded in our complex global food systems, in its fertilisers, the mechanisation necessary for its production, its transportation and its packaging.
For example, to farm a single cow and deliver it to market requires the equivalent of six barrels of oil - enough to drive a car from New York to LA.
Unbelievable? One analysis of the fodder pellets which are fed to the vast majority of beef cows to supplement their grazing found that they were made up of ingredients that had originated in six different countries. Think of the fuel required to transport that lot around the world.
Now factor in the the diesel used by the farm vehicles, the carbon footprint of chemical fertilisers used by most nonorganic beef farms and the energy required to transport a cow to the abattoir and process it. The total oil requirement soon adds up.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Eye Opening Article of the Week
While this article discusses the situation in Great Britain, the challenges certainly translate across the Atlantic: