Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peak oil and food

One of the stories that has happened during my lifetime is the widespread substitution of oil and other energy inputs for human and animal muscle in the production of food.  The food you buy in a supermarket contains a LOT of embedded energy these days.

Here's The Only Food Pyramid That Matters In A Peak Oil Future
Andrew Shen and Gus Lubin | Dec. 8, 2011

Food crises will become more common over the next century, according to a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

It's easy to see why.

The report cites predictions that global food demand will increase 50% by 2030. Meanwhile global demand for energy and water will increase 40%. As you may remember from 2008, an oil crisis quickly leads to a food crisis, as 30% of global energy consumption goes into food.

In a peak oil future, savvy consumers will rely on grain, fruit and vegetables, which have a smaller energy input. Here's the food pyramid that really matters: more 
And here's where the energy goes.
Of course, the first people to notice the impact of rising energy costs on farm production will be the farmers.  Here's what they are saying to each other in Iowa.
Narrowing margins: Rising input costs threaten to shrink grain profitability
By MATTHEW WILDE, | Posted: Sunday, December 11, 2011 9:00 pm   
OSAGE, Iowa --- It appears grain farmers had better buy a big piggy bank. 
Producers got some good and bad news Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the AG Expo in Osage. Agriculture experts forecast another financial windfall next year raising corn and soybeans, but profitability beyond 2012 is in serious doubt as input costs eventually overtake grain prices. 
Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension grain economist, told more than 100 producers and ag business officials at the Cedar River Complex Events Center that the cyclical nature of grain profitability will most likely catch up to producers in 2013. Landowners renting or selling ground and companies selling fertilizer, equipment, seed and other crop inputs have watched farmers rake in excellent profits in recent years and they want a bigger share of the pie. 
Hart warned farmers that tough economic times lie ahead. Representatives of businesses at the expo didn't necessarily disagree. 
"In 2013 you will be happy that you have money socked away," Hart told a producer at the expo. "Farming is competitive. I expect costs to catch up with prices." 
Corn and soybean values have about doubled since 2006. Production expenses haven't escalated as much, but that's about to change. more

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