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)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


11 November 2010

The graphic below is part 1 of a comparison of where the food I have been eating before and during this project is coming from.   While all the food I am eating is labeled as 'local' below shows the locations of creameries, flour mills, farms, and orchards which have provided me with 'local' food throughout the 100 days.  (click to enlarge)

The co-op defines 'local' as any product which
  • can be delivered to the store within a day of travel or
  • is produced in Minnesota or the bordering states.
While the majority of my food is coming from within about a 75 mile radius, there are a few notable exceptions.  I was actually fairly surprised after mapping this out visually with mileage radius lines by how spread out many of the foods I am eating are.  A 75 mile radius of food is still a very different scenario than local foods being sourced from within the boundaries of a community or metropolitan area. 

Here is a brief breakdown of where each 'staple' food I have been eating is coming from:

Whole Grain Milling
Located in Welcome, MN
120 miles away
Dakota Growers
Located in New Hope, MN and Carrington, ND
10 miles away

Cedar Summit Farm
Located in New Prague, MN
30 miles away
Garden's of Eagan (Our co-op owns this organic farm)
Located in Farmington, MN
30 miles away
Harmony Organics
Located in Morristown, MN
50 miles away
Hope Creamery
Hope, MN
70 miles away
Hoch Orchards
LaCrescent, MN
125 miles away

Driftless Organics
Soldier's Grove, WI
150 miles away

Hard cheese from Sartori Cheese
Located in Plymouth, WI
275 miles away

Slicing and Cheddar cheese from Widmer Cheese
Located in Theresa, WI
250 miles away

All of my food is coming from within a 300 miles radius.  While it's still better than the 1,500 mile radius that defines the average American dinner, it still isn't anything to be yelling about.  While my cheese and veggies aren't coming from California or Florida, they are still a stretch of the term 'local'.  However, any of these farms and businesses COULD be located around Minneapolis.  They aren't, simply because there still is not enough of a demand for it.  For most people, the motivation for buying local is to support local economies and eat fresher food. The scale of local foods operations cannot possibly compete with large-scale food production companies which distribute their products to stores all across the nation.  As out transportation fuel sources become increasingly expensive, however, the motivation could become more economically based. 

On the upside, I get to eat a buch of  super-tasty, local foods.  These businesses are often very small-scale, family run operations.  They take pride in the foods they are growing and making and you can tell by the taste.  It is interesting to go on the websites and read the stories of these businesses, they are often very transparent about their processes and growing methods. 

Some great websites on local foods in MN are here: