• Rising produce prices. The prices of most foods have increased, particularly devastating now that so many Americans are unemployed, underemployed, retired or retiring, or surviving on fixed incomes.
Nationwide, one out of six seniors suffers from malnutrition or hunger. And the number of children living in poverty who depend on their schools to serve their heartiest, healthiest meals tops 20 percent. An additional 37 million Americans rely on food banks.
• Peak oil. Even oil company CEOs agree that the world will have surpassed the peak era of cheap oil in the near future and there is no replacement.
• Peak soil and space. Arable land suited to farming is at a premium in the world. Each year, farmers lose thousands of acres to urban and suburban sprawl. Half the Earth’s original trove of topsoil, which once permitted the Midwest to feed the world, is lost to wind and erosion. Millions of years in the making, it was depleted and degraded by industrialized agriculture in just a couple of centuries.
• Climate instability. Inclement weather has devastated grain crops in the Midwest, Florida, Mexico, Russia, China, Africa and elsewhere. Many climate scientists believe we’ve passed the equivalent of the peak of friendly and familiar weather as we have the peak in easy, cheap oil and abundant healthy soil. When a region’s staple grain crops are lost, everything down the line from the crop itself becomes more expensive, from meat to processed food.
• Persistent unemployment and economic instability. Many analysts acknowledge that there could be five to six years of high unemployment. Watching this crisis build for decades, the less cautious predict the collapse of the whole fossil-fueled and global-economic system.
– Ellen LaConte