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Food shortages never seem to materialize here at least

Seems like food is a bargain compared to the rent or mortgage costs that most people have to pay.  I'm lucky because my rent is fairly reasonable, but folks I know are nearly broke just writing out their rent checks.


As oil gets more expensive, it seems like food is what people think about first.  They say it's going to make food, which uses fossil fuel in its production, scarce.  Strategies for dealing with this situation revolve around growing more of our own food and even a return to an agrarian society.  


I have a different point of view.  Fossil fuel is only a portion of the cost of food.  When that cost is passed on to consumers, the price will go up some, but other things like the price of housing or health care seem to go up much faster.  We can survive some fluctuation in the price of things without it bringing society to its knees. The crisis in health care costs seems more likely to bring us down.  


Survivalists often talk about hoarding food, but it may be more appropriate to suggest hoarding one's health as it looks like the economy may have more difficulty affording health care than food.


As for the cost of oil, I've read that about 20% of our oil consumption goes to agriculture.  That's a big chunk, but not as big as the 40% that goes into transportation.  Seems like long distance commuting by automobile will be more impacted by price hikes than eating.  


Here is an interesting irony.  In preparing for food shortages, some folks wish to live in rural areas so they can have lots of room for growing food.  This often means they are more dependent on automobiles than folks who live in urban areas.  An answer to peak oil might be to live within walking distance of one's job and a supermarket, rather than having a large garden.


I think that transitioning to a less oil dependent economy will mean more urbanization rather than less. People living within biking distance of work, or at least along the bus line.  It would be good to see more folks thinking in terms of urban strategies for dealing with peak oil.  For instance apartment living can save a lot on home heating by reducing the amount of surface area per resident versus detached housing.


On the other hand I fear that if urban living becomes too popular, the cost of living in town may go up.  We will have to think of strategies for affordable housing.


Some folks feel that our industrial and technological society is about to fall as they notice so many things we use are made out of plastic.  Plastic from petrochemicals.  I've read that all the plastics we use only account for around 7% of oil consumption.  Plastics can come from other sources like biomass as well.  Again, it's the automobile that's overlooked and a much bigger factor in oil consumption.


The future may not be as gloomy as some fear.  Technology has the potential to save us.  Everything from better solar collectors, windmills and even (dare I say) nuclear power can provide non greenhouse gas emitting energy.  In the next 50 years, or so, civilization may not even have to change as drastically as some fear.  Even the automobile may survive.  


Currently, it seems like the fiscal survival of our society is more threatened by obesity, with it's effects on health care costs, than peak oil even though these issues are all interrelated.  



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Comment by Celt M. Schira on January 19, 2011 at 7:23pm
Robert, I agree, there is no food shortage. There might be a shortage of food you can afford, or food you want to eat at a price you can afford. This is a personal experience only somewhat connected to external events. In 2008, when a fair number of my friends and family found themselves suddenly unemployed, I was handing out fresh garden vegetables. I even planted more garden in order to have plenty to share. There was plenty of food in the supermarkets and plenty of cheap, obesity inducing junk food, but not fresh food folks could afford. The fresh veggies, particularly in the off season, are the first to get cut from the food budget.

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