Danger from an Industrial Food System Dependent on Oil
Virginia Pasture (©photo by Nightwind23, courtesy of morgueFile.com)
The current industrial agriculture is heavily dependant on petroleum. It will not be sustainable forever.
Great chefs have been saying it for a long time. When you dine on fresh food produced locally through natural methods you enjoy it when the flavors are their most vibrant and the nutritional value is at its peak.
Besides making for pleasurable dining, it’s nice to know that a meal of seasonal ingredients is also an eco-friendly choice. Giant agribusiness likes to point out that their industrial farming methods have provided the most abundant and affordable food on earth. But it is grown with petroleum-barsed fertilizers and travels well over 1,000 miles before reaching the family table. It is an oil dependent system and oil is both an environmental threat and a finite resource.
Have the Saudis Been Lying?
So what happens when oil inevitably becomes more scarce and the law of supply and demand causes its price to climb sharply? We may find out sooner than we imagined. It seems that among the diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks there is one from the U.S. consul general in Riyadh warning that the Saudi government may be overstating the size of its oil reserves by as much as 40%. If so, oil prices may begin climbing, and soon.
According to a report in the Manchester Guardian, the “Saudi energy industry…overstated its recoverable reserves to spur foreign investment.” If Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cartel partners cannot pump enough crude to keep prices down, the cost of oil could begin escalating in 2012. Consumers will face rising prices for home heating fuel, gasoline and the food that comes from an industrial agricultural system.
No Doomsday Theorist
The U.S. consul general cites a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive, who “is no doomsday theorist. His pedigree, experience and outlook demand that his predictions be thoughtfully considered."
The implications are profound. Rising food costs were among the grievances that sparked the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In the U.S., consumers devoting more of their household income to food and fuel will have less discretionary income to spend on other goods and services, stifling economic growth and increasing the country’s trade imbalance.
Is There a Silver Lining?
Maybe. The locally produced food sold at farmers markets could become more price competitive than ever. Home and community gardens could proliferate out of economic necessity. Millions of families could find themselves enjoying meals that are healthier and more delicious than ever.
To view the entire article from the Manchester Guardian cited above, go to: WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices
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