If, like many of my readers, you're expecting a major
contraction of the global economy as we know it, you may have a vague
idea that you should be hoarding some essentials. Or not.
I had the dubiously good fortune of being deeply involved with the major big box retail chains for nine years up to 2005. I visited a Kmart distribution center outside Chicago in 1996. That was when it hit me that all the protests in the world were not going to stem the tide of Wal-Marts putting small town stores out of business everywhere.
I saw the acres of cement floors, fleets of forklifts and pallet jacks, miles of tractor trailer bays, webs of conveyors, and towers of racks. All run by computers reading bar codes, directing carton routes like air traffic controllers. Merchandise went in one side of the building from manufacturers and out the other to the stores, where employees wouldn't even have to check what arrived, because it was already in the stores' inventory. Or some variation on that theme.
The system was designed for efficient distribution. Customers are expected to drive to 'destination stores' in large vehicles and fill them up with merchandise that, in the old days (say, the early eighties – this happened fast) we would have 'gone downtown' or at least strolled through a mall.
All of this is based on cheap gasoline. If you suspect that those days will soon be over, then expect that quite suddenly many trucking firms will fall by the wayside. Some of the old clunkers that have been sprinkling the odd row of containers of rubber duckies, sneakers, and computers into the Pacific will be taken out of service. October 2010 update, Wal-Mart just had three behemoths built that carry 15,000 containers across the Pacific in only five days, meaning they can bring perishable foods. So, now it's more important than ever to demand truth in labeling.
If the price of oil spikes as peak oil experts expect soon, the stuff we've been taking for granted will not be flowing in those loading docks very reliably. Anyway, I'm probably preaching to the choir here. What I have to offer in the 10 in 10 Diet is an easy, pleasant transition to eating foods that started out dry and in bulk. Some people think they have to hoard cans of Spam and freeze-dried vegetable flakes, neither of which they want to eat unless they're forced to.
Why not get accustomed to eating in a way that doesn't depend on ten different truck trips between the farm field and your stove? If you're fortunate enough to be able to garden, you might at least practice growing some tomatoes, zucchini, and kale (all super easy), just to know that you have that option. If you can get locally grown grain, so much the better. The more we give our business to local growers, the more they'll grow.
My attitude is, enjoy living now, the way you expect we may have no choice but to live, later. Or something like it.
I think it's a good idea to get behind any movements to revitalize or at least prevent the dismantling of local rail lines. Our nearby activist has a web site devoted to keeping a big chunk of our large province from being cut off from any future possibility of using rails for freight and passengers.
There's a March 25 2010 article on the Obama administration's take on peak oil here.
My friend Andrew MacDonald discusses his approach to the future here at Radical Relocalization.com
Matthew Wild, of Vancouver, a reader and fellow vegetarian has a new peak oil blog called Peak Generation.
Cheap Suppers Recipes to Print Eating Beans My Road to 10in10
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