I watched A Crude Awakening last night. Not a wise move for a deep, refreshing sleep. I crawled into bed around 12:15 with my brain racing at a million miles an hour and on the edge of panic. Peak oil really is here.
Peak oil is the point at which the maximum amount of oil extraction has been reached, where after production will never be as high again. It means the last remaining easily accessible oil reservoirs have been tapped and are in the process f being drained. Like a mountain, when you reach the summit, the only place to go from there is down.
So, what does this mean? It means that many of the things we take for granted that we use day to day will either be no longer available or will be so expensive that only the elite can afford them. Things like plastic toys, furniture, cosmetics, transport, cooking, power and food. Yes, food. Food is heavily reliant on the fuel industry. Think of labels on food and when they tell us it is made in China. Or India. Or anywhere that isn’t local. The production lines are almost certain to be run using fossil fuel produced electricity, is then potentially kept cool (if needed) and shipped to us, then further divided and shipped around the country. All of that process, from the grower to our plates uses a LOT of fuel. A LOT of crude oil in various forms.
This is my panic. When the Peak oil Crisis really begins to bite, many of the out of season or non local foods we are now used to being able to buy whenever we fancy; fish from foreign seas, tropical fruits in our southern states, cold stored fruits that are out of season; all of these will become too expensive for the average Joe Bloggs. Most fruits and vegetables including things like tomatoes, carrots, bananas, even apples and oranges, will either cease to grace our places altogether or only be available during their growing season. And there will only be those able to be grown locally that we will be able to afford to purchase for our plates. We will not be able to afford the fuel to drive to our workplaces in the city, or drive the kids to school or even to the supermarket. Unless we can walk or cycle to these places, they may very well be out of reach.
Solution? Yes, there is a solution and it is something we can all do. Grow as much of our own food as we can, preserve in some way the excess and try to only source locally grown foods now. The less fuel we use now, the more will be there to help us when it reaches critical times. Putting in large vegetable beds, raising chickens for meat or even just eggs may not be an option for everyone, but every little bit helps. Even if all you have is a balcony, plant a prolific fruiting tomato, a large cropping bean and I even saw the other day how to grow carrots in 2L drink bottles! If all you have is a window sill, grow your own herbs. If you have room, plant a potato sack. You would be surprised at just how many potatoes you can harvest from a single spud bag. It may not feed you all year long but even if you get a month or 2 worth of supply, that’s only 10 months of the year you need to buy it.
Through my research and reading of blogs from all over the globe I know there are many others out there doing this. Homesteading as they call it in America is not a new concept, just not as common as I believe it is going to become in the very near future. It was also very common to grow ones own food during the war when there was food rationing. Well, once again I believe we are about to face food rationing. There is a lot of information too on preserving and you can kit yourself out with a Fowlers Vacola preserving unit and some bottles from as little as $40 on eBay if you’re lucky. The accessories are sold by many on eBay too as well as many hardware stores and the jars are often found in op shops too. Pressure canners (pressure canning allows safe preserving of vegetables and other low-acid or non-syrup preserved foods) are readily available on Amazon. The jars too can be sourced on Amazon or eBay too. There are also many other companies selling them.
Dehydrating is another way to preserve fresh food for the future. Again these can be easily sourced on the internet and I have even seen instructions on Pinterest on how to build a solar dehydrator. It’s how it used to be done! And blanching and freezing requires no other equipment other than what most people have in their kitchens already. Lets enable ourselves whilst we can, before it becomes an absolute necessity.