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Food Energy – A New Perspective

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Today, when someone starts talking about reducing carbs in your diet, many immediate think of carbohydrates.  Those reading this blog might think of carbon and reducing the fossil fuel consumption that is necessary to feed the world.  The phrase, “food energy”, for many means calories or the energy that we get from food.  For others, it might mean the energy that goes into food production.  This article is about none of the above.

Many of us have been brainwashed since youth that work is hard, lacks the enjoyment of leisure activity, is a necessary evil.  Energy is required to do work and energy can be used to save work.  The following argument will hopefully give you a very different way to look at all these issues.

The most convenient food is what can be harvested right outside your kitchen door or found on the shelf in the pantry or the stored for the winter in the cold cellar.  To grow your own food and preserve it takes energy and knowledge.  Some would say, “ It is hard work” “Gardening takes too much time (or space)” “Canning or drying produce is old fashion” “Why bother when you can buy food already prepared”.

Definition: Food Energy is the energy YOU expend bringing food to your table. 

Food energy might be expended in many ways from growing all your food to cooking from scratch to opening a can or carton.  The more effort you put into providing food for yourself, the less others have to do.  This includes reducing the fossil fuels used in growing, transporting, packaging, transporting, marketing, transporting, disposing of waste – the final transporting.  The amazing thing is that the more energy you expend, the more you will have.  The higher quality food, the exercise, the involvement with nature will energize you.  Food will be more interesting, better tasting and less expensive.  It will take work -- learning new skills and physical involvement.  Even this has a very positive side.  You will get practice every day and get really good at gardening, cooking, composting and saving money.  Then one day you realize that it takes less time, less energy and you have done your part to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.

Comments on "Food Energy – A New Perspective"

  1. OEIC default avatar David Hauber December 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    There is a good article in the 12/2011 Scientific American, “More food, less energy”.
    It claims we spend 2% of US energy consumption on agriculture and another 2% transporting food. i.e. we spend as much transporting it as we do growing.  What is really amazing is that we spend another 6% packaging and processing.
    The author also claims we use 10 calories for every calorie of food energy produced.

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