Sunday, March 8, 2009

Peak Food:

It's getting timely to insert this term into our collective jargon as the reality is right around the corner. It looks very possible to me that this summer will herald the arrival of the first of the global famines, as we crush up against the inescapable fact of our unsustainability. Sooner than I would have expected, certainly, but we've learned a great deal in the last few years about how the supply/demand relationship is more sensitive and inelastic than one might have thought, and how small changes in availability can create large cost spikes and bubbles, especially in a world with commodity speculation and the ETF's. We saw a quite the bubble in rice prices last year and spot shortages, and we can well expect to see the same this summer. 

The day in which a 50 lb sack of rice was cheaper than a 50 lb sack of potting soil is gone forever.

We'll look into this issue in a bit more depth in the next couple of posts. If we use the motif of "preparing for a voyage"--as it isn't far off reality--we'll have a better sense of what sustainability really means in a practical manner. The issue is likely to be very practical.

It was a little over two years ago that I stood in a Costco in Los Angeles a bit agast at the flies of consumerism crawling over the shit--and I happened to see a pre-packaged tray of sushi in the fridge case. Fraiser River Sockeye! the package screamed, Bleck, I thought to myself, in a Costco in L.A.? but my eye caught the words(product of China). A closer look was warranted at this point.  Can you imagine that there was a moment in history in which things were so cheap that you could catch a fish in Canada, freeze it, fly it to China to have people cut it up and make sushi out of it, pack it in into wonky little 30 piece trays, fly it back across the Pacific Ocean once again to Los Angeles, and the whole thing can be bought for 12 bucks, including the half of the entire product which won't be bought by anyone and be pitched in the trash? God, I wish I had taken a picture of that. . .

1 comment:

3brainer said...

Last year a book came out that discusses just how all that happens and where our seafood comes from. I'll never eat another farmed shrimp again. Ugh! Check out Taras Grescoe's

Bottomfeeder : how to eat ethically in a world of vanishing seafood