Archive for April, 2009

Local Food and Energy Management

After reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, I wanted more.  So I went straight on to his In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.  And after that on to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. There is so much relating to the concept of energonomics–of managing energy–in these books that I could probably populate a year or two of monthly posts with these materials.  I already did a post on Omnivore’s Dilemma called “The Energonomics of Eating” a few months ago.  As a result of reading this for our Green Sanctuary Committee book group at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill, we focused on local eating during our third annual Earth Day Service and Fair.  The reading for the service was from Kingsolver’s book, a passage by her husband Stephen Hopp that makes many of the same points that Pollan does in a sidebar titled “Oily Foods.”  “Americans put almost as much fossil fuel in our refrigerators than in our cars,” Hopp starts, and after describing how food travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to our plate, he concludes:

A quick way to improve food-related fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil and drink it.  More palatable options are available.  If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.  That’s not gallons, but barrels.  Small changes in buying habits can make big differences.  Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast. (5)

Pollan makes a very similar point about directly consuming oil:  “Instead of eating exclusively from the sun, humanity now began to sip petroleum” (Omnivore’s Dilemma 45).

But, of course, we can’t just drink petroleum oil…So the alternative, as both authors suggest, is to try to buy locally grown foods.  So I’m checking labels on everything we buy now.  Where is it from?  Is there a more local alternative that I can choose?  And we’re making other changes.  The garden got bigger this year.  And there’s six chicks in the kitchen, waiting to grow into egg layers (that “good breakfast” Hopp mentions).  We’ll continue with our subscription to a local CSA (“community supported agriculture”), and I hope to organize a buying group of people who want to pay a little more for “grass-finished beef” and other properly raised meat animals (these farmers can be found at   The hope is that, with some of these small changes, we will help to make the big difference that many of us will need to start making if we are to keep the planet intact for our descendents.


30 April 2009 at 7:22 pm Leave a comment

April 2009
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