This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


24 August 2010

miles biked - 18.76
water used -

One of the goals at the end of this project is to compile a local foods recipe document of things I ate during this project...This means I need to start making some good, local meals!  Today I ate a better meal than I have had in 10 days, pizza dough from scratch with pesto and local veggies.  Believe it or not this was my first time EVER making pesto (and pizza dough from scratch for that matter).  Without being able to buy pre-packaged foods EVERYTHING has to be made from scratch so I've a some learning to do.  Luckily, the bread maker uses quite a bit less energy when only mixing dough and not baking bread.  Baking in my toaster oven is way more efficient than in the oven as well (numbers to come on both of those appliances). 

The one ingredient that was not local was the pine nuts. As you may guess, Pine nuts come from pine cones found on pine trees.  While we do have a lot of pine trees around and often associate pine trees with northern climates, pine nuts grow on species of pines which grow in the Southwest, California and Mexico.  From wikipedia: In North America, the main trees  are three of the pinyon pines, Colorado Pinyon (Pinus edulis), Single-leaf Pinyon (Pinus monophylla), and Mexican Pinyon (Pinus cembroides). The other eight pinyon species are used to a small extent, as are Gray Pine (Pinus sabineana), Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana), Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana) and Parry Pinyon (Pinus quadrifolia).  Because I've never made pesto before I figured I should try it the traditional way first and then branch out into using local nuts (probably hazel nuts?)  They are the only local nut option available at the co-op, but there may be others... Besides the nuts, all ingredients are local and organic, and bought in bulk. 

The other big event I should mention is I bought cheese for the first time!   It is a locally made, organic Parmesan made by Sartori called 'Sarvecchio'.  Apparently it won some awards: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that SarVecchio Parmesan from Sartori Food Corp. in Anitgo was chosen as the best cheese in the United States at the annual U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.  It is pretty good.  While all cheese is wrapped in plastic at the co-op (a law that they have to package it behind the counter), being that I'll be accumulating a small amount of waste throughout the project, I can only buy it every once in a while.  Packaging is a tricky and touchy subject at the Wedge because for a while they allowed customers to bring in their own containers for the deli items.  This privilege was abused however, and people began bringing in containers that were too dirty, risking contaminating other containers and creating law suits...After speaking with a deli gal the other day it sounds like there are still a few options for getting cheese without the plastic.  All cheeses arrive already packaged in plastic except the wax covered ones.  This is tricky as well because if it is paraffin wax (an oil product) then I can't use that either.   I call ahead and ask what cheese is local and came in wax (so I know it didn't use any plastic).  I can special order local, oil free cheese this way, have yet to try this.  This limits my selection to only cheeses that come in wax, however, so if I want any other cheese, I have to buy the plastic packaging and store it in my non-compostable waste.  The idea I have with waste is that I don't end up with more than I could personally transport by bicycle to a waste facility.  This, of course would also use energy (as all waste is burned in Minneapolis).  I'm a little unsure what the best solution will be for the little waste I create during the project.

On to the recipes, below is what I used:

Pizza dough for bread maker:
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp maple sugar
4 cups bread flour (I used 3 white and 1 multi grain in this case)
4 tsp active dry yeast

2 cups packed basil
1/2 cup pine nuts (to be substituted with local ingredient)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/4-1/2 cups sunflower oil (depending how creamy you want it)

Pizza dough must rise in a warm place for 30 min, then pushed into a bread pan (I used only half today) and allowed to rise for another 30 min.  I brushed sunflower oil on top and then spread the pesto and topped with garlic chunks, tomato, and onions.  Bake for about 20-25 min on 425 (depending on how thick the crust maybe longer).  Pretty good eating I must say, then again, a little variety goes a long way these days :) Any other recipe ideas appreciated...


  1. we just made some maura-friendly pesto the other day, and it's kept beautifully and tastes amazing. that means it's basically just.... basil, garlic and oil. maybe for your next batch, if you can't find a local substitute, you could just leave nuts out altogether? and cheese, if it's too plastic-y.

    amber and dan had a cheese-making kit. might be a good option for you? here's an example:

    we talk about this all the time - how eating completely local and home-made means you basically have to go back to being a homemaker, spending a lot of your day just preparing these foods and doing a lot of things by hand. probably no coincidence that the rise of packaged foods came around the same time that women were able to go into the workforce along with their hubbies?

  2. Yes, cheese-making. We have the 30 min. mozzarella kit. It can be done in either the microwave or on the stovetop. I've had success with both. If you'd like to come over sometime and make cheese, that would be fun. I haven't used the kit more than 2 or 3 times (sheer laziness).

    Pine nut substitute = walnuts or butternuts (at least that's what I've read). I'm not sure who would be supplying them locally, but my parents tell stories about their parents on farms harvesting and using butternuts and black walnuts.

  3. Goat cheese is anotherbeasy homemade you need to find a source for the milk?