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 18, 2010


15 October 2010

It has been a bit of a struggle to adapt sweeteners in this project.  Not because we lack sweeteners native to Minnesota, but because I never really USED the ones that originate here...

Quick overview of the various sweeteners generally used:

Table Sugar- This is the processed, refined sugar from beets or sugarcane that has all molasses taken out.  Brown sugar falls in this category as well.  It has had the molasses removed but then added back in.  These are the most processed sugars and have no nutritional value.

"Raw Sugar"- These sugars are from the same sources as table sugar but do not remove the molasses.  Turbinado Sugar is in this category (Sugar in the Raw).  These have some nutritional value (though no sugars have enough nutritional value for that to be a justifiable reason to eat them except in very small quantities.

Agave Nectar- From Blue agave cactus plants.  Native to Mexico and about 90 percent fructose, agave is sweeter than sugar and has more concentrated fructose than HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). 

Barley Malt and Brown Rice Syrup- Made from maltose which is less sweet than fructose.  Used like molasses in sauces, muffins and other moist baked goods.

Coconut Sugar- Made from a coconut palm tree, this sugar is similar to brown sugar and higher in nutrients than other sugars. 

Honey- The sweetest of all natural sweeteners, meaning you don't need as much of it.  Good to use for adding moisture in baked goods.  Honey is the only sweetener available in a raw form.  Ames Farm produces raw honey, which is not filtered or blended with other varieties as typical honey is. 

Maple Syrup- Not as sweet as table sugar but also adds moisture. 

Molasses- A byproduct of processing sugar.

Stevia-Not technically a sugar, this sweetener is extracted from Stevia plants and is about 300 times as sweet as sugar, but has no calories.  Because it isn't a sugar, it does not react the same way in cooking and baking making it difficult to substitute.  It is good, however, for sweetening drinks and is becoming more popular. 

Of all these sweeteners, I am limited to Maple Syrup, Maple Sugar and Honey.  Sugar beets grow all around here, but I have yet to find beet sugar that is refined and processed locally.  This isn't all bad, the ones I have are great natural sweeteners, but it takes some getting used to having everything taste like maple and honey :)

I found this Maple Sugar Cookie recipe on  It is from the New England chapter of the United States Regional Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago, 1947.  This is the real deal, a recipe without having to make substitutions!  (Except I took out the lemon).

1_sift first three ingredients together
2_cream butter and sugar together, add eggs, lemon extract and milk
3_add flour mixture and blend well
4_refrigerate about 1/2 hour
5_preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease cookie sheets
6_roll dough 1/4" thick and dust with maple sugar, cut into attractive shapes with cookie cutters, place on prepared cookie sheets and bake about 15 minutes

The dough is excellent! Cookies are alright too, I only cooked them for 10 minutes so they are more squishy.  Yeah for sweets, its been a while :)


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup maple sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp milk

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