Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Store Up Those Multivitamins, Including D3

Buy affordable multivitamins and vitamin D3, including for your kids. Neither is very expensive.

Why would I write about vitamins in a blog about energy and the environment?

Because the way modern Americans and others obtain most of their food is based on a complex system that is highly vulnerable to disruptions, such as drought, loss of a key energy supply (e.g., fossil fuels that are used to fertilize farms then transport the grain, fruits, or vegetables), or the loss of financial credit required to buy those inputs (a more recent concern).

As a result, the hauling of food great distances could simply halt (how fast do you think anyone would warn you of *that*?), or be tremendously delayed.

I always keep lots of vitamins around because chances are you can always find something to provide calories on short notice, but it's not likely to be very nutritious, which presents the threat, especially for the young ones, of nutritional deficiencies over time. For example, my basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories I *would* burn just loafing around in bed all day (without hiking long distances or walking, for example), is about 1650 calories. I could always find 1500 or so calories in the form of rice, peanut butter, bread, crackers, in an emergency (lurching for the Velveta, so to speak), but I wouldn't want to have to live on simple or sugary carbs for a very long time.

I would want to give my family members and myself a multivitamin and a healthy dose of vitamin D3 each day with the food.
There is some conjecture, further, that vitamin D3 can be used as an antibiotic in a pinch.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Support Your Local (And Regional) CSA

If you can afford it, invest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

A CSA gives you a share of a farm or farm cooperative's fruits, vegetables, and/or meats usually during a growing season such as June through October in the northeastern U.S. In fact, even if you feel like you cannot afford it, co-invest in a CSA with a neighbor.

Here's how it works: you send them a single payment in early Spring (say $450 for a full share, the equivalent of less than one month of bad electricity bills here during the winter:), and thereby agree to share the farm's bounty and possible risk of failure, by drought say.

They do not have to repay you in the event they lose their crop to a killer drought or flood; however, you get a weekly pile of veggies or meats from the local farm(s), plus your's and others' investment helps ensure that a local farm survives (along with other advantages, such as having a person-to-person relationship with a food grower, and not having to rely on labels and faceless companies of questionable credibility to determine whether antibiotics are used, or whether cows, chickens or Elk for that matter are grass-fed).

In case you haven't noticed, you and your family need food to survive; you do not want to have to rely on the equivalent of 3,000-mile cesar salads, or grapes from Chile (however tasty they are), for your sustenance. A bad oil-related energy crisis could easily knock out or greatly stress food production and long-distance transportation in the U.S. The supermarkets' shelves in many places would be picked clean in a matter of days.

I have invested in two CSAs, one local CSA for veggies and fruits, and another in Vermont for grass-fed meats and eggs. I have a chest-sized freezer in the basement where I plan to store a lot of the bounteous local produce and protein. I'll let you know how it goes with my CSA shares. I will also re-plant my Summer garden; it provides about 10 percent or less of my calories.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is the U.S.'s Third Largest Oil Exporter Teetering on the Edge?

Mexico's oil production is plunging. "Pemex extracted 772,000 barrels a day from Cantarell [in January 2009], the world’s third-largest [oil] field, a decline of 38 percent from a year earlier" (yikes!), according to the Bloomberg article, whose link I found at this blog.

Why should U.S. citizens care (the plunging rule of law on the U.S. border with Mexico is probably a more heightened near-term concern)?

Because Mexico is the United State's third largest exporter, behind Canada and Saudi Arabia. In December 2008, the U.S. imported 1.126 million barrels per day from Mexico, nearly 10 percent of all of its imported crude oil, according to the EIA.

To put that number into perspective, even Iraq exported only about half that oil amount to the U.S. during the same period.

Fueling cars and trucks, the transportation of much of our food, for instance, is about 97 percent dependent on crude oil.

The U.S. is dangerously dependent on foreign countries for this crucial energy source; two-thirds of all of our oil comes from other countries.

The top five exporters (including Venezuela and Nigeria, along with the previously mentioned three) dominate U.S. imports. "The top five exporting countries accounted for 59 percent of United States crude oil imports in December while the top ten sources accounted for approximately 87 percent of all U.S. crude oil imports," according to the Energy Information Agency. It's not like we can just grab more oil from another source who is willing to make up for Mexico's probable and eventual exit from the scene as a big U.S. exporter.

Mexico's need for its own dwindling oil supply will probably exceed its need for the revenue it can raise by selling its oil, particularly at the present low price per barrel of about $42. Experts call this condition "peak exports" (when important supplying countries are forced to consume their own crude oil rather than sell it). Despite the fact that the world is currently awash in relatively cheap oil, this is a problem the U.S. is likely to confront in the months and years ahead.