Thursday, February 14, 2008

Crunch time

There are changes afoot in a variety of producing areas which will have an impact on the foodchain.

Our supplier of petfoods has advised us that the cost of peanuts has trebled due to peanuts being in demand as a fuel source and has passed the price onto us. The impact of that is that the kind ladies in our village who have been putting out peanuts for the birds during the winter months are thinking twice about how they will continue to do that and keep warm themselves. Pressure on everyone in that transaction. I was not aware that peanuts were a source of fuel and an ingredient of biofuel.

I understand that there is pressure in the world with sources of oil reducing and demand staying the same or increasing to find an alternative.

The second piece of news that disconcerns me personally is that our local beekeeper, who provides us with local honey is concerned that he has lost some hives and that the bees are reducing the amount of honey they are producing. Thus, honey is going to be a luxury soon. I touched on bees being an indicator of global change previously, and frankly most people would not pay much attention to the loss of pollinators because they may not be aware of its significance.

We continue to offer a local service. A customer amazed me this week; he had made a trip into the nearest town to buy some meat. The cost of petrol was £ 1.00 and then he had had to pay 50 p to park his car. He understood the equation that if he had shopped locally he would have saved money, time and hassle. It makes sense for suppliers to do the travelling once on the country lane instead of 10 cars doing the journey. Hopefully the word will spread......

Generally, the trend of food prices is up, because the cost of raw materials and transport is up. I expect that soon, suppliers will expect a larger minimum order to minimise their transport costs which will have an effect on small shop keepers like us.

Reducing your carbon footprint is exactly about that, reducing it, changing the way we do things, the way we use the resources we have available. If we do not reduce consumption, and resources reduce, then the prices will go up and obtaining basic foods will become more difficult.

Every day we get bombarded with bad news about global warming, or some other strange phenomenon. When the financial markets are volatile, food prices go up, your bank increases its rates, the credit card company stops you from purchasing any more items on credit; there has to be a message in there that things are going wrong somewhere.

The way things seemed to fall into place is changing; if we are all connected and our actions have an effect then, all these vibrations and shifts have to have an impact somewhere. Its a shaky foundation for the moment, a delicate balance.

And yet, the consumer is making different choices. There is support for organic which has evolved into ethical resulting in every high street company now offering a green alternative to make you feel better when you shop.

If you consider being on a carbon reducing diet; if the shops offered you a slimming bar that tastes as good as the real thing, but would not cause you to gain weight, you would buy it right?
If they can produce biofuel and it means that you do not have to stop driving then ofcourse you would go for that. That means no change for the individual and just a change of resources. The thought of giving transport up completely is too hard to contemplate and yet that is the shift that is required in the long term just as giving up sugar would be the direction to go into if you found out you were diabetic.

That sort of shift is unpleasant, probably not for the fainthearted. I want to ask you to take that step with me. This is the toughest thing we will be asked to do.

Moving from Berry Cottage was a wrench for me. I loved the house, the garden; but it was no longer manageable with a lack of resources. Yes I traded a comfortable cottage with all mod cons for an old house that leaks, that is hard to keep warm but that provides an opportunity to not travel, to work from home and to grow a large proportion of our food on the premises.

I find myself wanting a new bathroom, a new kitchen, a warm room and occasionally I also want to just run away, usually when the power cuts out. I am no different, I want all my stuff, I just choose to not want it so much and to start reducing my carbon consumption. I expect it is no different than dieting. Hard, very very hard to do but it can be done.

Anyone want to be my carbondiet buddy?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello from Georgia, USA.
I have read articles about the bee decline here as well - I believe it was referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder - have not seen anything recently to indicate finding of the cause or whether it is still continuing here.

Today's newspaper contained an article out of state of New York about bats in NY and Vermont dying by the thousands - also of an unknown cause. The bats often have a "white ring of fungus around their noses" and scientists are trying to discover what is happening, as their contribution to our agriculture by eating damaging insects is so important. We have mosquito problems in our area, and I am always happy whenever I see bats in an evening. I hope that it is not human behavior causing these problems, but ...

Our food prices are steadily creeping up as well. So far we are absorbing the cost by eating at home more and not spending as much in restaurants. In a small carbon-reducing move, we have bought a couple of the reusable totes that the market offers for $.99 each - to use them in place of plastic bags. They are a nice size and seem pretty sturdy. I have not yet taken them, with their large store logo, shopping into another chain to see what their reaction will be when I want to fill them. :-)

Do you get news of our weather? It has been erratic in some places with devastating killer storms in nearby states. Temperatures here were in low 20s Wednesday with wind and sleet and mid-50s(F) yesterday and today. We are to get some rain on Sunday. The drought continues, but we have been getting little rains more often. We recently had some trees that were nearing the end of their lives removed - seemed like doing so might free up some water for the other trees. The crocuses are blooming.

Thank you for the background on fairy cakes and the "panto." Looking forward to seeing pictures.