Where does your food come from? If you’re like most of us, your reach is truly global. Tomatoes from Mexico. Grapes from Chile. Oranges from Florida. Lettuce from California. And that steak on the barbecue? It may have started life on a Manitoba farm but it was probably fattened, slaughtered and processed in Saskatchewan, Alberta or the United States.
While some of our food is grown and processed locally, most of it travels several hundred to several thousand kilometres before it lands on our plates.
Our food doesn’t walk. Ocean going vessels, rail cars, and long haul truckers carry the bulk of it, with some luxury items travelling by air. This far-flung, complex transportation network enables us to enjoy an almost limitless variety of foods from around the world, regardless of the season.
This abundance is a relatively new phenomenon. While the peoples of the world have traded foodstuffs from one region to another throughout recorded history, it was only after the development of fossil fueled modes of transport that our globalized food system became possible.
That era will soon be coming to an end because the energy source that made it all possible is running out. As oil consumption continues to outpace oil discovery and production, energy prices will continue to rise. Because every aspect of our food system, from production, to processing and transportation depends on oil, the prices on our global menu will continue to grow, and they will grow beyond the reach of most citizens.
Simply put, our existing globalized food system is not sustainable. The sooner we begin to make the transition to a more rational system the better.
While governments appear to be largely unaware of this looming threat, small groups of citizens have recognized the problem and are beginning to look for solutions.
One of these is the Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-op, located in Winnipeg, MB. In June 2012, I joined a walking tour of projects the co-op has going in its neighbourhood.
Here is my video report.