On Food, and the Future

Holly at Hen Waller has written a fantastic post about the growing effects of rising energy prices on food production. (If you unfamiliar with Hen Waller, Holly and Patrick, Oregonians, are involved in a free range chicken/egg co-operative in Portland, and they have committed themselves to the 100 mile diet.)

I worry for all of the amazing farmers I’ve been privileged to meet in the last few years. They are learning and husbanding so many skills and precious foods and animals in sustainable ways, but what will this economic pressure do to them? The NY Times had an article recently musing that it might make local and organic seem more accessible to people, if conventional food prices increase. Others have mentioned this idea to me as well. I truly would be delighted if it were so—but I just don’t know if I buy it. I have felt hopeful in the last year at the increased attention and support local sustainable food has been getting, but it feels like a fragile thing. Will it hold up to $6-a-dozen eggs, to locally-baked bread becoming even more expensive? Transportation of food to market is already a huge expense, resource drain, and pollutant. This is only going to become more serious. Our household only eats meat from sustainably-raised animals, but we will probably have to reduce how much we buy as prices increase. Will our contraction (and that of others like us) be compensated by an overall increase in people migrating to this much better, but much more expensive option?

And, oh, do I worry for the future. I try to keep most of my focus on my local—it is where I can have the most impact, and working with people, face-to-face, gives me hope. But when I raise up my head to the wider world—the one I and all of us depend on for every drop of water, for every morsel of food, for every breath of air—it is a blow to my spirit. We are not treating this world as the source of our life.

Where is our reverence, our respect, our awe? Where is our sense of self-preservation?

Yes, there’s a hint of Mother Earth-iness in her comments, but she is correct–no matter what you believe, the Earth is the source (or at least a sustainer) of our lives. The post is worth a read.