“Americans put almost as much fossil fuel into our regrigerators as our cars. We’re consuming about 400 gallons of oil a year per citizen – about 17 percent of our nation’s energy use- for agriculture, a close second to our vehicular use. Tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigation, sprayers, tillers, balers, and other equipment all use petroleum. Even bigger gas guzzlers on the farm are not the machines, but the so-called inputs. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides use oil and natural gas as their starting materials, and in their manufacturing. More than a quarter of all farming energy goes into synthetic fertilizers.
But getting the crop from seed to harvest takes only one-fifth of the total oil used for our food. The lion’s share is consumed during the trip from the farm to your plate. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thristy steps include processsing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, wherehousing, and refrigeration. Energy calories consumed by production, packaging, and shipping far outweigh the energy calories we receive from the food.
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.”
Taken from the dust jacket back cover: “Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial food pipeline to live a rural life- vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoire, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open our eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.”
If you are interested in reading this fantastic book (and we suggest you do), you can find it here: