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)
Monday, October 25, 2010
DAY 68_HOW MUCH FOOD TO STORE?
Expanding on my last post, I calculated an estimate of how much food I eat each week to find out how much I would need to be storing during months outside of the growing season. Although in this project I will not need to store food for longer than the last 3 weeks of the project (beginning of November to the end on Nov. 22nd), I would like to speculate on how much food I would need if I were continuing to eat only local foods through the entire year. Looking back on the records I've been keeping on what I am eating every day, each week I eat:
_(other fruit when available)
_2 bunch of some kind of greens
_7 hot peppers
_2 bell peppers
_3 heads of garlic
_(other vegetables as they are available)
I am growing greens so those would not need to be kept in some way (and it would be hard to keep greens). However, for the rest, each month I would need:
_28 hot peppers
_8 bell peppers
_12 heads of garlic
From looking back at my in-season food chart http://100dayswithoutoil.blogspot.com/2010/10/day-66how-food-comes-and-goes.html, I can calculate how much food I would need to cover all months that each food isn't in season. The results are as follows:
Starting on November 1st I am going to be using only stored foods for the remainder of the project. Here is the plan:
According to the University of Minnesota Extension http://www.extension.org/faq/1206 you can store potatoes 4-6 months if kept in a cool (40 degrees) environment. Sprouting at high temperatures is a problem, and potatoes should be kept in the dark to avoid greening.
Canning seems to be the best way to preserve tomatoes. While a lot of energy goes into the initial canning process, afterwards, no additional energy is needed to store them (such as freezing).
Freezing is the most practical way to store these. Hot peppers seems to dry well, but can only be used in certain dishes after losing all their water content.
Drying and freezing are both options. Dried apples can be used for variety of things and take up much less space than freezing.
I have heard around that all of these have the possibility to be stored for up to 6 months when kept in cool (less than 40 degrees), and well ventilated locations. This doesn't seem to mean the fridge because there isn't much air circulation inside a refrigerator. A garage might work (don't have one of those). Root cellars were an essential part of homes before fresh produce was made infinitely available year-round. Built underground, or in a basement, they take advantage of the cool temperatures of the earth below grade. Because many crops like to be in damp environments, having them buried in damp sand is one method I have heard of.
Because I am only storing for less than a month, I won't have to worry about coming up with something close to root cellar-like conditions for most of the food, but this is an interesting consideration for designing homes in a post-cheap-oil world...