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Thread: Food for Fuel

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    Food for Fuel

    Here's an article with some of the arguments why higher food prices due to
    biofuels might not be such a bad thing. Farmers in develping countries staying
    on the land and making a decent living.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7026105.stm

    I don't know if I like paying more for food to enable my neighbors to continue trashing the environment.

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    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    What sucks is biofuels couldnt be manufactured without government subsidies.
    They dole out the $ to the big corps, price of corn rises, some non-corn farmers
    switch to corn for the higher value, and reduced supply of non-corn food will result in
    higher non-corn prices.

    corn costs more, non-corn costs more

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    Unfortunately I don't see this as a viable option.

    For example, it currently it takes about 35 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of beef and about 65 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of pork. Our food supply is too closely tied to fossil fuels as it is.

    Now let's consider the time line for when oil has/will peak(ed). What's going to happen when there is 'real pressure' on food production/supply?

    As for corn becoming a biofuel...

    Indeed, if biofuels are going to make a substantial dent in meeting our fuel needs, processors will need to look beyond corn. If all the corn currently grown in the U.S. were turned into ethanol, it would replace only 15 percent of our annual gasoline demand. (By way of comparison, we could eliminate 15 percent of our gasoline demand by increasing average fuel efficiency of U.S. cars by just four miles per gallon -- an attainable goal using on-the-shelf technology.)
    http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2006/12/05/olmstead/

    We simply need to eliminate our addiction to fossil fuels.
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    Using new veg oil for fuel is stupidity anyway, when there's so much waste stuff from fast food outlets which is actually better for fuel as its higher in carbon (like charcoal basically) at least once you've filtered out the bits of McNugget etc...

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    Quote Originally Posted by doktoravalanche View Post
    Using new veg oil for fuel is stupidity anyway, when there's so much waste stuff from fast food outlets which is actually better for fuel as its higher in carbon (like charcoal basically) at least once you've filtered out the bits of McNugget etc...
    it gets recycled as it is, not thrown away for the most part

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    The only reason corn is being used for ethanol is because of the strength of the corn/ag lobby. Ethanol from corn is nothing more than a government boondoggle that is going to cost the US taxpayers over 5.7 billion dollars in subsidies over the next five years. There are many, many other plants that produce much more ethanol per acre at a lower extraction cost. Switch grass is one an probably one of the most underrated is the Jerusalem Artichoke. It is basically a weed and will grow in very poor soil conditions. It produces almost 5 times as much ethanol per acre as corn; sugar beets are another viable source that out strips corn in the gallons per acre. Personally I can't see too much food for fuel, because the corn in particular is fertilizer intensive and guess where fertilizer comes from...we need to get over the excessive use of personal ICE vehicles and get on with car light/car free living to save the necessary fuel for moving necessary freight. I have always liked the old Friends of the Earth motto of "Think Globally, Act Locally" and that is what it is going to take. Unfortunately a substantially large portion of the American public is in the me first and damn the rest of the world mode and could careless what their actions mean to anyone else.

    Aaron
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    There was a recent article in the National Geographic about this food for fuels subject. If you've got some time you can read the article here
    http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/.../biofuels.html
    We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive. -Aldo Leopold

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    Im disapointed.

    I thought this thread was going to be about eating fried apple pies for mileage etc.

    : (

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    Our local midwestern (read heart of the corn belt) city
    newspaper had a headline yesterday that said.........

    "Ethonol boom loosing steam"

    and went on to say more people are coming to understand
    it's drive or eat in the end.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    Im disapointed.

    I thought this thread was going to be about eating fried apple pies for mileage etc.

    : (
    +1 I was hoping someone would justify deep fried oreos and twinkies for me. Damn. %muches on carrots

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I do justify eating lots of food because I ride a lot. I never tried deep fried twinkies, however. I don't know what effect ethanol production will have on poor commodity farmers, but I imagine they'll continue to get the shaft, just like they do now. It seems like the only way a farmer (in either the wealthy or developing countries) can hope to make a decent living is to grow food crops and sell directly to consumers.


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    I happen to agree with giving the farmers a fair price for their product, which unfortunately doesn't always happen in developing countries. Although this may not be the thread, or the specific forum for that matter, with respect to this topic, I'll elaborate anyway - considering it was already mentioned.

    A product that I hold dear to my heart, as I would presume most cyclists do...coffee. The only coffee I buy is fair trade. Sugar is another product that keeps most plantation workers in a cycle of slavery. It's a dirty secret that they [corporations and plantation owners] would like to keep secret.

    So if your actions and buying habits are ethically based, which I would presume most car free individuals practice, this is one you should consider.

    Sorry for the divergence of the thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobartlemagne View Post
    What sucks is biofuels couldnt be manufactured without government subsidies.
    They dole out the $ to the big corps, price of corn rises, some non-corn farmers
    switch to corn for the higher value, and reduced supply of non-corn food will result in
    higher non-corn prices.

    corn costs more, non-corn costs more
    Everytime the government tries to step in to "make everything better" of course it just ends up screwing things up even more. We need deregulation!

    Still crossing my fingers on this Ron Paul thing (I can dream right)

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    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    The only reason corn is being used for ethanol is because of the strength of the corn/ag lobby. Ethanol from corn is nothing more than a government boondoggle that is going to cost the US taxpayers over 5.7 billion dollars in subsidies over the next five years. There are many, many other plants that produce much more ethanol per acre at a lower extraction cost. Switch grass is one an probably one of the most underrated is the Jerusalem Artichoke. It is basically a weed and will grow in very poor soil conditions. It produces almost 5 times as much ethanol per acre as corn; sugar beets are another viable source that out strips corn in the gallons per acre. Personally I can't see too much food for fuel, because the corn in particular is fertilizer intensive and guess where fertilizer comes from...we need to get over the excessive use of personal ICE vehicles and get on with car light/car free living to save the necessary fuel for moving necessary freight. I have always liked the old Friends of the Earth motto of "Thing Globally, Act Locally" and that is what it is going to take. Unfortunately a substantially large portion of the American public is in the me first and damn the rest of the world mode and could careless what their actions mean to anyone else.

    Aaron
    I buy only locally grown coffee and bananas!
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
    I buy only locally grown coffee and bananas!
    I can get just about everything but those grown local I do buy the fair trade organic grown coffee. Next year I plan to step up to buying the green coffee beans and roasting my own. I don't think anybody thinks for a second that we could live completely fossil fuel free or live only what is grown 100% local. I know we would be in a bad way this year due to the extreme drought conditions in Central NC. Our local farmers market has been on the sparse side this year because of it. They considered lifting the 50 mile restriction but the people that sell at the market asked them not to.

    Aaron
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    Has anyone ever looked into the small local farmer thing a bit closer.

    I have my doubts about it being more fuel efficient. Its true that the average food product has traveled 1500 miles but it also traveled that by train or big truck along with thousands of pounds of other cargo.

    Somehow a guy who lives 20 miles outside of town bringing his 15 pounds of corn to the farmers market in his f-150 does not seem that much more fuel efficient if at all.

    Its popular though and just like the pruis it helps make people feel better about themselves even though its probably actually worse for the environment.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Never bothered to calculate...but most of the ones at our farmer's market are bringing more than 15#'s of corn. They are bring bushels of various items, among the things I purchased this year; tomatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, collards, peppers, sugar peas, black eyed peas, pears, apples, peaches, eggs, country ham and pumpkins. All grown within a 50 mile radius and the bulk grown with in less than 20. There is one farm that I quite often ride my bike to and make my purchases, so no transportation fuel costs involved. We also have a local grocery store chain that owns it's own canning plant and cans local produce for sale under their house brand in their stores....can't get much more local than that. It is the way it used to be 50-100 years ago.

    Aaron
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    For coffee you could try grain coffee: http://www.teeccino.com

    they make it out of ingredients you could find most anywherein North America.

    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I can get just about everything but those grown local I do buy the fair trade organic grown coffee. Next year I plan to step up to buying the green coffee beans and roasting my own. I don't think anybody thinks for a second that we could live completely fossil fuel free or live only what is grown 100% local. I know we would be in a bad way this year due to the extreme drought conditions in Central NC. Our local farmers market has been on the sparse side this year because of it. They considered lifting the 50 mile restriction but the people that sell at the market asked them not to.

    Aaron

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
    Our local midwestern (read heart of the corn belt) city
    newspaper had a headline yesterday that said.........

    "Ethonol boom loosing steam"

    and went on to say more people are coming to understand
    it's drive or eat in the end.
    That's good to hear! I was beginning to doubt the general existence of common sense. First we find nearly free black goo that provides us all with easy fertilizer, medicine, enormous increases in quality of life and life span, generally most of the modern technological benefits, and all we can think to do with it is light it on fire for fun and basic convenience. And when that stuff might just start running low, people started talking about setting our food on fire like it was a good idea. Maybe people-in-general aren't that dumb after all, just really slow-witted.

    Edit: Just ran into another article-
    Slate has a good market perspective of the ethanol bust:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2175327/

    Basically asserting that the boom went inside out; the fuel production was heavily subsidized, while the distribution and implementation was nearly ignored. The resulting product glut pushed the product price so low it can't pay for its own transportation to a mismatched market, and pop goes the bubble.
    Last edited by KnhoJ; 10-07-07 at 10:39 PM.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike2math View Post
    For coffee you could try grain coffee: http://www.teeccino.com

    they make it out of ingredients you could find most anywherein North America.
    Thanks for the link...but until hell freezes over there is NO WAY I am giving up my caffeine loaded coffee

    Aaron
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    Mister Goody Two Shoes KnhoJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I can get just about everything but those grown local I do buy the fair trade organic grown coffee. Next year I plan to step up to buying the green coffee beans and roasting my own.
    That's a great way to go! Besides the obvious freshness and quality benefits, you often end up supporting small farms that work harder than everyone else to produce better beans than everyone else, but don't have the budget to afford fair-trade or organic certification. Neither one seems expensive, but with farms in some regions like Ethiopia, which are organic by default because they can't afford pesticides, every penny counts. Fair trade's better than it used to be, but a lot of farms get overlooked. Organic still costs money to get certified and stay that way.

    Careful, though. Homeroasting has been known to lead to obsessive tendencies, especially when espresso enters the picture. Mmmm, espresso....

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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    Has anyone ever looked into the small local farmer thing a bit closer.

    I have my doubts about it being more fuel efficient. Its true that the average food product has traveled 1500 miles but it also traveled that by train or big truck along with thousands of pounds of other cargo.

    Somehow a guy who lives 20 miles outside of town bringing his 15 pounds of corn to the farmers market in his f-150 does not seem that much more fuel efficient if at all.

    Its popular though and just like the pruis it helps make people feel better about themselves even though its probably actually worse for the environment.
    That sound like a very odd farmer's market. I've never been to one that is a bunch of guys sitting in the back of their trucks, each with a bucket of corn.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    Has anyone ever looked into the small local farmer thing a bit closer.

    I have my doubts about it being more fuel efficient. Its true that the average food product has traveled 1500 miles but it also traveled that by train or big truck along with thousands of pounds of other cargo.

    Somehow a guy who lives 20 miles outside of town bringing his 15 pounds of corn to the farmers market in his f-150 does not seem that much more fuel efficient if at all.

    Its popular though and just like the pruis it helps make people feel better about themselves even though its probably actually worse for the environment.
    Yes, I've looked into it much closer than you have.

    Like Aaron said, most of these growers are bringing a lot more than 15 pounds of corn to market. Like many people, I literally buy most of my food from local growers, and believe me I eat more than 15 pounds a week all by myself.

    It's not just transport that saves fuel. Most synthetic fertilizer is made from natural gas, and that's where most of the fossil fuel in agriculture is used. They also use a lot of water for irrigation and many toxic chemicals. Modern agribusiness may in fact pollute more than manufacturing and more than automobiles. They seem to have little concern for the sustainability of the land or the health of the people. This is an enormous problem worldwide, and feeding people sustainably is a great challenge facing the human race.

    Local organic growers don't use synthetic fertilizers or toxic chemicals at all. They irrigate less because they grow appropriate crops and understand how to use mulching, cover crops and shade to reduce water loss from the soil.

    Small organic farmers have higher yields per acre than agribusiness, but the dollar cost per yield is also a bit higher. The main reason to support local growers is that the middle men are eliminated. This means that the farmer gets a better price for his crops, while the consumer gets much better food at prices that are competetive with supermarkets.

    If you'd like to learn more about this topic, let me know. I've read a number of good books about it and also done a bit of "field research."


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    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I can get just about everything but those grown local I do buy the fair trade organic grown coffee. Next year I plan to step up to buying the green coffee beans and roasting my own. I don't think anybody thinks for a second that we could live completely fossil fuel free or live only what is grown 100% local. I know we would be in a bad way this year due to the extreme drought conditions in Central NC. Our local farmers market has been on the sparse side this year because of it. They considered lifting the 50 mile restriction but the people that sell at the market asked them not to.

    Aaron
    Yeah, It would've been a bad thing -fer sure- to allow farmers with the bad luck of having a farm further away from competing for your business! Sure do love them fair trade practices.

    While I'm wondering if I want to move so I can continue to enjoy seafood, perhaps we should revive the big cattle drives of yesteryear! No more of that wasteful driving doggies to the slaughter-house in the back of a smelly old truck- make 'em walk! (If a steer walking down a highway is centered in the lane, is he a vehicular hamburger on the hoof? Do you think he will be subjected to close passes by inconvenienced motorists?)

    I'm gonna miss cranberry's, blue, red and blackberries. I wonder if they grow hops around here? I guess pancakes are out for me cause I won't eat 'em without genuine maple syrup. (How big do you suppose the local north east maple syrup market is?) I'm glad they grow wheat and corn nearby so I can still enjoy my Capt Crunch!

    I'm gonna miss chocolate...

    No wonder this idea isn't catching on.
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    chipseal...I hope that post was tongue in cheek... As far as the 50 mile radius rule it is to provide local farmers the opportunity to sell their wares on a community level and not have to worry about someone dragging stuff in from half the country away and selling below their cost, as has happened at too many places. It helps everybody to keep the local economy local, something that is all to uncommon these days.

    The US economy is going to take a big hit in the future because we have outsourced everything in the name of cheap prices and profits. One of these days there aren't going to be anymore profits to be taken.

    I have no problem with purchasing products made in a different area of the country, but will give my spending priorities to the local merchants first. I am a local merchant in my town. If you don't support your local merchant/farmer/whatever one of these days they will be gone and you will be at the mercy of trucking companies, foreign manufacturers, governments and big business, all it would take is a hit to one section of the current oil supply line and we would be in major trouble. Interesting article on The Oil Drum about how long it takes for an infrastructure to start collapsing when the trucks stop running. If more items were obtained locally it would be less of an issue. I consider it to be a "don't put all your eggs in one basket" scenario. Right now most of the food people purchase comes an average of 1500 miles to their table.

    I have seen shortages of Peanut Butter, salad greens and the like in the big chain grocery stores because they are depending on a huge factory farm, or a single plant to produce the product. If my closest local farm is out of something, there is a good chance I can get it from another one near by. I think that the large farming concerns actually cause more harm than a smaller one, massive amounts of fertilizer applied to huge areas, if they have an issue with the quality ie; the E.coli in the CA farms, it is going to cause more widespread issues than if Joe Farmer that sells local in WI has a bad batch of carrots, it won't affect as many people as the large farm issue.

    To me is it is much more than a Global Warming/Peak Oil issue, but they certain will be playing a part in it in the near future.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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