More Beans Etc & Famine?

Not much to report really, we headed down to the plot late afternoon and Val went around the beans. That resulted in cries of “another carrier bag please” as her eyes are more powerful than my specs when it comes to bean spotting.

I went around the greenhouses sideshooting the tomatoes and fighting the giant cucumber as I picked. That resulted in about half a dozen more cucumbers and another carrier bag of tomatoes.

Oops, nearly forgot the peppers. Considering these were grown from plants I bought, varieties unknown, they’ve not done badly at all. No chilli peppers this year, but that’s OK as we’ve enough dried peppers from last year to see us through to next!

We’ve been blanching as I said last time and this also involves moving things from the downstairs freezer to the upstairs as the downstairs freezer is better at fast freezing down.

Anyway, the upstairs freezer needs a defrost and sort out, at which point we’ll see how many years supply of everything we’ve got.

As we settled down to dinner, Val made a Chinese type of dish with fresh peppers, onion and chicken amongst other things, I watched Future of Food on BBC 2. Now I do find it ironic as the reporter flies from continent to continent to discuss the effects of climate change amongst other things.

One trick method the media use is to decide what the ‘investigation’ is going to prove and then show you the evidence to back it up. Cynical? Moi? That’s why I tend to take what they say with a pinch of salt. That said, some of his report was pretty scary.

The global population is rising and by 2020 will probably be 8 billion some 30% increase on 2,000 and at the same time the developing countries are eating more meat as they can afford it. The problem with that is that meat requires far more land and water per gram of protein than say beans.

The other big storm on the horizon is oil. Now I don’t believe oil will suddenly run out, but the price of oil will begin to increase as extracting reserves becomes more expensive. Now the type of agriculture we have in the west is very energy intensive. Tractors, combine harvesters and so forth are only part of it. Fertilisers and pesticides manufacturing processes are heavy energy and oil users.

Finally and even worse, we have our distribution system. Food is grown in one place, shipped off to a central depot, shipped back and finally we drive to a shop to buy it. That’s without flying in beans from Kenya and strawberries from Israel.

It seems the days of cheap food may be coming to an end, and sooner than we might think. I’ll be 61 in 2020, all being well. Hopefully, even if all these dire predictions come true, we’ll be able to produce a lot of our own food.

Having said that, with our Chinese meal we had rice. Joking about British summers aside, we are not a rice growing country. I wonder how it would have tasted with potatoes?

Posted in Rants and Raves
5 comments on “More Beans Etc & Famine?
  1. Hoodsie says:

    I am reading a really good book called ‘the partys over’

    this is well worth reading as it takes into account all the areas covered in this blog

  2. Kittiwake says:

    I watched the same programme and have to share in your skepticism of the media’s approach to science and science linked investigations.Being a scientist myself some of the methods used do raise my eyebrows and I have been caught shouting rude words at the telly once or twice (just don’t get me started on cosmetics and shampoo adverts !.

    I agree that the programme was good at pointing out that in some years hence we are going to have to change the way we live. The media doesnt often mention the issue of peak oil and what that will potentially mean for all of us (it is an interesting and rather scary subject). It made me chuckle though when the presenter showed us the way forward for British agriculture. No more huge fields with mono-crops and intensive mechanised farming. The future is small plots of land growing lots of different types of veg, with intercropping, livestock to produce meat and organic fertiliser and more manual labour to grow stuff. Does he mean allotments then ? I think we have beaten him to it on this site !


  3. John says:

    One side effect of more expensive food, particularly fats and meat protein, is that we may be forced into eating a healthier diet. Rather like the improvement in general health brought on by rationing in the war, we might be deprived of our treats but better for it.

  4. Nick B. says:

    This one has really got me thinking, John.

    Yes, if we look back at the war years when necessity required more people grow their own, we undoubtedly had a healthier diet. As is the case with many visitors to this site, my wife and I have a modest allotment which we enjoy hugely – not just for the fruit and vegetables we produce, but also the sheer pleasure it gives us.

    But here’s the rub – times (and society) have changed beyond recognition since WWII, and my belief is that whilst some of us choose (or in future may be forced) to grow more of our own food, the vast majority of people either will not wish or be able to do the same. Most people will continue to shop in supermarkets and price will be the determining factor (just look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s experiences when it came to getting people to pay more for better quality chicken!)

    My biggest concern is that the era of cheap food will not come to an end sooner than we think, but rather that the era of “reasonable quality food” (and I use that phrase in the broadest sense!) at a cheap price. What will replace it is an era of low quality, cheap food. Producing your own food is VERY time consuming (without my wife’s efforts on our allotment, we would be unable to grow anything, as I travel abroad almost every week of the year on business), and so many people do not have the luxury of the time it takes to grow/rear their own produce. Many of those time-poor/cash-poor individuals will sacrifice food quality – and be in no doubt that market forces will ensure that their demand is met…………

  5. Fiona says:

    On a more light hearted front, You could probably eat your chinese type meal with Cous Cous rather than rice, which is wheat based, although not much good if you are gluten intolerant.


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