Along with the rebirth of cities and new life into small towns, the rising price of gas will get us eating more local foods from farmers we actually know. The great American farm rises again at $16 dollars a gallon.
As author Christopher Steiner points out in $20 Per Gallon, at $16 a gallon our food web as we know it will unravel. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you won’t starve, and you’ll get your food closer to home. Instead of “fresh “ tomatoes from California in February that were picked green and ripened in an industrial process that keeps the looking great but taste free, you have juicy flavorful tomatoes from a local farms. You’ll enjoy them canned in the winter, or pay a little more for hothouse grown ones. You’ll enjoy crisp fresh local apples in late summer through early winter, then feast on applesauce and pies from local orchards the rest of the year, rather than eating apples shipped halfway around the work from New Zealand, that use many times their weight in petroleum to get to you. Eating foods in season, from farms you can pass by once in a while and farmers you may know, will be the norm rather than the exception.
Well use hot houses heated, not by natural gas or oil, but by sun in the daytime and compost at night, which give out tremendous heat during the process of turning back into soil. “Old” methods of farming will make a comeback, as they are already on organic farms.
$16 a gallon gas will put a crimp in exotic sushi for sure – shipping fresh fish all around the globe every day. But that will be better for the fish and the planet as we rely more on locally caught or grown fish, like catfish, tilapia, trout, and – yes – carp, which are widely used a food fish elsewhere and are actually quite delicious.
Our food will be closer, fresher, crunchier, tastier and more nutritious. We’ll eat “in season” again, the way our bodies evolved. And more and more food will be organically produced, with integrated pest control and local compost and manures instead of petroleum derived fertilizers and pesticides. We’ll feast on real food instead of petroleum.
But things from distant places won’t go away entirely. A new renaissance of rail will bring things – and us – to and from distant cites, with a fraction of the energy it takes to fly or drive. See what’s in store when gas reached $18 a gallon next time.
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