More and more scientists are pointing to the fact that the end of the cheap oil era will require us to fundamentally change the prevailing current food and agricultural system; a system that has become addicted to and dependent on fossil fuels. This week I came across a report entitled “The Food and Farming Transition: Toward a Post Carbon Food System” published by the Post Carbon Institute earlier this year. Although the report focuses on the United States, its contents applies to many other parts of the world as well. In this well accessible and readable report the authors not only point to the key vulnerabilities of a food system resting on an unstable foundation of massive fossil fuel inputs but also to the seeds of transition toward a post carbon food system:
The seeds of the new food system have already been planted. America’s farmers have been reducing their energy use for decades. They are using less fertilizer and pesticide. The number of organic farms, farmers’ markets, and CSA operations is growing rapidly. More people are thinking about where their food comes from.
These are important building blocks, but much remains to be done. Our new food system will require more farmers, smaller and more diversified farms, less processed and packaged food, and less long-distance hauling of food. Governments, communities, businesses, and families each have important parts to play in reinventing a food system that functions with limited renewable energy resources to feed our population for the long term.