Food from Oil
The world produced about 200 million tons of petrochemical fertilizers (made from oil) last year. However, our existing food production system cannot continue to rely on oil because of the increasing oil prices.
The world’s oil reserves are more heavily competed for than before. The “cheap” oil is becoming increasingly scarcer. A permanent decline in our material standard of living will occur unless we IMPROVE our lifestyles!
The Food System
Energy breakdown for the food production system includes about 20 percent of overall energy used in agricultural production, 14 percent for transport, 16 percent for processing, another 7 percent for packaging, 4 percent in food retailing 7 percent in restaurants and caterers and a whopping 32 percent goes to home refrigeration and preparation.
By adapting the principles for food security, the Intelligent Clusters would substantially reduce the amount of energy used for food production, improve food security, and ensure human well-being, economic and environmental sustainability. The principles for food security at the Clusters include:
A. Reducing the food system reliance on the oil industry
B. Producing food locally
C. Changing eating habits through constant education (that is substantially reducing the consumption of processed, frozen and packaged food to cut energy waste and marketing costs and to prevent waste going to landfills)
D. Reducing the pressure on the natural resources (land, water, and energy) by eating lower on the food chain (that is “intelligent eating” by encouraging healthy eating habits that includes less animal products)
The energy humans need to stay alive and do work is provided by the metabolism of food. A good estimate for the daily energy requirement is 2,000 food calories (2,000 kcal) per day for women and 2,600 kcal for men (low to medium activity lifestyles).
To produce 1,000 kcal of food energy, however, the food production industry in the Western Society uses between 7-10,000 kcal in Sweden and 11-14,000 kcal in USA (about 22,000 kcal in Japan).
This enormous energy markup is used by the agricultural industry (fertilizers, pesticides, farm machinery), retail sector (transportation, refrigeration, processing, packaging, displaying and advertising) and in the kitchen (refrigerating and cooking the food).
According to above diagram, for every 7.3 units of [primarily] fossil fuel energy input (energy consumed) only 1 unit of food energy is produced! [Note: The actual ratio for the energy flow in US food system is about 14:1]
Each year humans slaughter a large number of other animals for food. According to the FAO database the following numbers of animals were slaughtered in 2003
- 45,895 million (45.9 billion) chickens
- 2,262 million (2.3 billion) ducks
- 1,244 million (1.2 billion) pigs
- 857 million rabbits
- 691 million turkeys
- 533 million geese
- 515 million sheep
- 345 million goats
- 292 million cows and calves (for beef and veal)
- 65 million other rodents (not including rabbits)
- 63 million pigeons and other birds
- 23 million buffalo
- 4 million horses
- 3 million donkeys and mules
- 2 million camels (and other camelids)
The actual figures are estimated to be about 40 percent larger than the the FAO numbers above. For the 2007 stats add another 8-10 percent!