Peak oil means more expensive food for those who can least afford it. The family farms of rural India, Africa, South America and even Tasmania are being taken over by multinational agri-businesses, in the name of providing food for the world. However, the International Year of the Family Farm 2014 has ideas on how to retain food production in every local community, doing away with expensive methods of agriculture and the cancer of food miles.
Imagine a food system which exposes energy usage at every stage of production, taxing or raising costs depending on energy used to produce the food.
So, growing your own food, lets say potatoes, in your own community, using local resources, would become the cheapest food. In your own home and local take-aways and restaurants this potato may be turned into chips for very little extra cost.
Processed, packaged food would incur extra costs for every potato grown in oil and chemical laden agricultural systems, every food mile travelled from producer of the raw potato to processing factory, every energy unit used to process the potato into, for example, a bag of frozen chips, including the production of the plastic bag and its own transport and energy costs and every energy unit used to then transport, store and display it in the supermarket.
Suddenly the true cost of chips is revealed.
I can imagine a system in Australia which stamps every item with an energy rating, such as that currently used for washing machines, fridges and cars etc. Affluent Australian supermarket shoppers often want to do something positive for the earth and the farmers but do not have the information or are not prepared to put in the time to explore all the issues. This energy rating system would be a clear and uniform way to compare foods.
The insidious creep of huge, energy-guzzling agri-business into the farthest corners of the globe’s farming areas is tearing the earth and communities apart and removing the ability of people to provide good, clean, traditional foods for themselves.