One of the scariest things about Peak Oil is the potential destruction of our current method of food production and distribution. The current system relies VERY heavily on transporting food massive distances and getting it on supermarket shelves ‘just in time’. Stores don’t have warehouses of stock nearby- they literally rely on trucks pulling up to restock every day. Remember the truck driver strikes over petrol prices, when all the bread disappeared from the shops within a couple of days?
We are not self-sufficient in food as a nation and do not currently have the capacity to be. The soil we do have for growing food is often so degraded that the only way to grow in it is to use large quantities of chemical fertiliser, whose production is also heavily dependent on oil.
So, to look to the past: The last time the UK had a real food scarcity problem was in the Blitz, when imports were restricted and national resources were funnelled into the war. Rationing was in place and lots of people were hungry but big swathes of spare land like parks and the grounds of stately homes were reclaimed for food growing- and the average person got back into touch with producing food for themselves and their community.
Trouble is, there just isn’t that much spare land anymore. And there are lots more people.
I also really wonder if we still have the capacity in this country to get back to the genuine communal reliance on one another that made the ‘Blitz Spirit’ so strong. Are we flexible enough and connected enough to one another to meet these challenges without turning into selfish, ravenous beasts?
What inspiration do you take from the past in figuring out how to survive the future?