Why Our Food is So Dependent on Oil
312 Energy April 2, 2005


by Norman Church

April 2nd, 2005

"Concentrate on what cannot lie. The evidence..." -- Gil Grissom



"Eating Oil" was the title of a book which was

published in 1978 following the first oil crisis

in 1973 (1). The aim of the book was to

investigate the extent to which food supply in

industrialised countries relied on fossil fuels.

In the summer of 2000 the degree of dependence on

oil in the UK food system was demonstrated once

again when protestors blockaded oil refineries

and fuel distribution depots. The fuel crises

disrupted the distribution of food and industry

leaders warned that their stores would be out of

food within days. The lessons of 1973 have not

been heeded.


Today the food system is even more reliant on

cheap crude oil. Virtually all of the processes

in the modern food system are now dependent upon

this finite resource, which is nearing its

depletion phase.


Moreover, at a time when we should be making

massive cuts in the emissions of greenhouse gases

into the atmosphere in order to reduce the threat

posed by climate change, the food system is

lengthening its supply chains and increasing

emissions to the point where it is a significant

contributor to global warming.


The organic sector could be leading the

development of a sustainable food system. Direct

environmental and ecological impacts of

agriculture 'on the farm' are certainly reduced

in organic systems. However, global trade and

distribution of organic products fritter away

those benefits and undermine its leadership role.


Not only is the contemporary food system

inherently unsustainable, increasingly, it is

damaging the environment.


The systems that produce the world's food supply

are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Vast

amounts of oil and gas are used as raw materials

and energy in the manufacture of fertilisers and

pesticides, and as cheap and readily available

energy at all stages of food production: from

planting, irrigation, feeding and harvesting,

through to processing, distribution and

packaging. In addition, fossil fuels are

essential in the construction and the repair of

equipment and infrastructure needed to facilitate

this industry, including farm machinery,

processing facilities, storage, ships, trucks and

roads. The industrial food supply system is one

of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels and one

of the greatest producers of greenhouse gases.


Ironically, the food industry is at serious risk

from global warming caused by these greenhouse

gases, through the disruption of the predictable

climactic cycles on which agriculture depends.

But global warming can have the more pronounced

and immediate effect of exacerbating existing

environmental threats to agriculture, many of

which are caused by industrial agriculture

itself. Environmental degradation, water

shortages, salination, soil erosion, pests,

disease and desertification all pose serious

threats to our food supply, and are made worse by

climate change. But many of the conventional ways

used to overcome these environmental problems

further increase the consumption of finite oil

and gas reserves. Thus the cycle of oil

dependence and environmental degradation



Industrial agriculture and the systems of food

supply are also responsible for the erosion of

communities throughout the world. This social

degradation is compounded by trade rules and

policies, by the profit driven mindset of the

industry, and by the lack of knowledge of the

faults of the current systems and the

possibilities of alternatives. But the

globalisation and corporate control that

seriously threaten society and the stability of

our environment are only possible because cheap

energy is used to replace labour and allows the

distance between producer and consumer to be



However, this is set to change. Oil output is

expected to peak in the next few years and

steadily decline thereafter. We have a very poor

understanding of how the extreme fluctuations in

the availability and cost of both oil and natural

gas will affect the global food supply systems,

and how they will be able to adapt to the

decreasing availability of energy. In the near

future, environmental threats will combine with

energy scarcity to cause significant food

shortages and sharp increases in prices - at the

very least. We are about to enter an era where we

will have to once again feed the world with

limited use of fossil fuels. But do we have

enough time, knowledge, money, energy and

political power to make this massive

transformation to our food systems when they are

already threatened by significant environmental

stresses and increasing corporate control?


The modern, commercial agricultural miracle that

feeds all of us, and much of the rest of the

world, is completely dependent on the flow,

processing and distribution of oil, and

technology is critical to maintaining that flow.


Oil refined for gasoline and diesel is critical

to run the tractors, combines and other farm

vehicles and equipment that plant, spray the

herbicides and pesticides, and harvest/transport

food and seed Food processors rely on the

just-in-time (gasoline-based) delivery of fresh

or refrigerated food Food processors rely on the

production and delivery of food additives,

including vitamins and minerals, emulsifiers,

preservatives, colouring agents, etc. Many are

oil-based. Delivery is oil-based Food processors

rely on the production and delivery of boxes,

metal cans, printed paper labels, plastic trays,

cellophane for microwave/convenience foods, glass

jars, plastic and metal lids with sealing

compounds. Many of these are essentially

oil-based Delivery of finished food products to

distribution centres in refrigerated trucks.

Oil-based, daily, just-in-time shipment of food

to grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals,

schools, etc., all oil-based; customer drives to

grocery store to shop for supplies, often several

times a week




Our food system is energy inefficient...


One indicator of the unsustainability of the

contemporary food system is the ratio of energy

outputs - the energy content of a food product

(calories) - to the energy inputs.


The latter is all the energy consumed in

producing, processing, packaging and distributing

that product. The energy ratio (energy out/energy

in) in agriculture has decreased from being close

to 100 for traditional pre-industrial societies

to less than 1 in most cases in the present food

system, as energy inputs, mainly in the form of

fossil fuels, have gradually increased.


However, transport energy consumption is also

significant, and if included in these ratios

would mean that the ratio would decrease further.

For example, when iceberg lettuce is imported to

the UK from the USA by plane, the energy ratio is

only 0.00786. In other words 127 calories of

energy (aviation fuel) are needed to transport 1

calorie of lettuce across the Atlantic. If the

energy consumed during lettuce cultivation,

packaging, refrigeration, distribution in the UK

and shopping by car was included, the energy

needed would be even higher. Similarly, 97

calories of transport energy are needed to import

1 calorie of asparagus by plane from Chile, and

66 units of energy are consumed when flying 1

unit of carrot energy from South Africa.


Just how energy inefficient the food system is

can be seen in the crazy case of the Swedish

tomato ketchup. Researchers at the Swedish

Institute for Food and Biotechnology analysed the

production of tomato ketchup (2). The study

considered the production of inputs to

agriculture, tomato cultivation and conversion to

tomato paste (in Italy), the processing and

packaging of the paste and other ingredients into

tomato ketchup in Sweden and the retail and

storage of the final product. All this involved

more than 52 transport and process stages.


The aseptic bags used to package the tomato paste

were produced in the Netherlands and transported

to Italy to be filled, placed in steel barrels,

and then moved to Sweden. The five layered, red

bottles were either produced in the UK or Sweden

with materials form Japan, Italy, Belgium, the

USA and Denmark. The polypropylene (PP) screw-cap

of the bottle and plug, made from low density

polyethylene (LDPE), was produced in Denmark and

transported to Sweden. Additionally, LDPE

shrink-film and corrugated cardboard were used to

distribute the final product. Labels, glue and

ink were not included in the analysis.


This example demonstrates the extent to which the

food system is now dependent on national and

international freight transport. However, there

are many other steps involved in the production

of this everyday product. These include the

transportation associated with: the production

and supply of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium

fertilisers; pesticides; processing equipment;

and farm machinery. It is likely that other

ingredients such as sugar, vinegar, spices and

salt were also imported. Most of the processes

listed above will also depend on derivatives of

fossil fuels. This product is also likely to be

purchased in a shopping trip by car.


...is dependent on oil...



One study has estimated that UK imports of food

products and animal feed involved transportation

by sea, air and road amounting to over 83 billion

tonne-kilometres (3). This required 1.6 billion

litres of fuel and, based on a conservative

figure of 50 grams of carbon dioxide per

tonne-kilometre resulted in 4.1 million tonnes of

carbon dioxide emissions (4). Within the UK, the

amount of food transported increased by 16% and

the distances travelled by 50% between 1978 and



It has been estimated that the CO2 emissions

attributable to producing, processing, packaging

and distributing the food consumed by a family of

four is about 8 tonnes a year (5)


..and is unnecessarily contributing to carbon emissions.



It is not that this transportation is critical or

necessary. In many cases countries import and

export similar quantities of the same food

products (6). A recent report has highlighted the

instances in which countries import and export

large quantities of particular foodstuffs (6).

For example, in 1997, 126 million litres of

liquid milk was imported into the UK and, at the

same time, 270 million litres of milk was

exported from the UK. 23,000 tonnes of milk

powder was imported into the UK and 153,000

tonnes exported (7). UK milk imports have doubled

over the last 20 years, but there has been a

four-fold increase in UK milk exports over the

last 30 years (8).


Britain imports 61,400 tonnes of poultry meat a

year from the Netherlands and exports 33,100

tonnes to the Netherlands. We import 240,000

tonnes of pork and 125,000 tonnes of lamb while

exporting 195,000 tonnes of pork and 102,000

tonnes of lamb (6).


This system is unsustainable, illogical, and

bizarre and can only exist as long as inexpensive

fossil fuels are available and we do not take

significant action to reduce carbon dioxide





The threat of global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions


The nearness of the depletion stage of oil supplies



Discovery of oil and gas peaked in the 1960s.

Production is set to peak too, with five Middle

Eastern countries regaining control of world

supply (9). Almost two-thirds of the world's

total reserves of crude oil are located in the

Middle East, notably in Saudi Arabia, Iran and

Iraq (10). An assessment of future world oil

supply and its depletion pattern shows that

between 1980 and 1998 there was an 11.2 per cent

increase in world crude oil production, from 59.6

to 66.9 million barrels of oil per day (10).

Current world production rates are about 25 Gb

(billion barrels) per year. A simple calculation

shows that if consumption levels remain constant,

world crude oil reserves, at approximately 1

trillion barrels, could be exhausted around 2040



The oil crises of the 1970s when the Organisation

of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) states

reined in their production have passed into folk

memory. However, they were accompanied by massive

disruption and global economic recession. The

same happened in 1980 and 1991 (12).


Colin J. Campbell, a pre-eminent oil industry

analyst, believes that future crises will be much

worse. "The oil shocks of the 1970s were

short-lived because there were then plenty of new

oil and gas finds to bring on stream. This time

there are virtually no new prolific basins to

yield a crop of giant fields sufficient to have a

global impact. The growing Middle East control of

the market is likely to lead to a radical and

permanent increase in the price of oil, before

physical shortages begin to appear within the

first decade of the 21st century. The world's

economy has been driven by an abundant supply of

cheap oil-based energy for the best part of this

century. The coming oil crisis will accordingly

be an economic and political discontinuity of

historic proportions, as the world adjusts to a

new energy environment" (9).


The three main purposes for which oil is used

worldwide are food, transport and heating. In the

near future the competition for oil for these

three activities will be raw and real. An energy

famine is likely to affect poorer countries

first, when increases in the cost of paraffin,

used for cooking, place it beyond their reach.

Following the peak in production, food supplies

all over the world will begin to be disrupted,

not only because of price increases but because

the oil will no longer be there.




The organic system is more energy efficient to the farm gate...



One of the benefits of organic production is that

energy consumption and, therefore, fossil fuel

consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, are

less than that in conventional systems.


The energy used in food production is separated

into direct and indirect inputs. Indirect inputs

include the manufacture and supply of pesticides,

feedstuffs and fertilisers while direct energy

inputs are those on the farm, such as machinery.

One measure of the energy efficiency of food

production that allows a comparison between

different farming practices is the energy

consumed per unit output, often expressed as the

energy consumed per tonne of food produced

(MJ/tonne) or the energy consumed per kilogram of

food (MJ/kg).


A study comparing organic and conventional

livestock, dairy, vegetable and arable systems in

the UK found that, with average yields, the

energy saving with organic production ranged from

0.14 MJ/kg to 1.79 MJ/kg, with the average being

0.68 MJ/kg or 42 per cent (13). The improved

energy efficiency in organic systems is largely

due to lower (or zero) fertiliser and pesticide

inputs, which account for half of the energy

input in conventional potato and winter wheat

production and up to 80 per cent of the energy

consumed in some vegetable crops.


In conventional upland livestock production, the

largest energy input is again indirect in the

form of concentrated and cereal feeds. When

reared organically, a greater proportion of the

feed for dairy cattle, beef and hill sheep is

derived from grass. In the case of milk

production, it has been found that organic

systems are almost five times more energy

efficient on a per animal basis and three and a

half times more energy efficient in terms of unit

output (the energy required to produce a litre of

milk) (13).


...but not when it goes global.



So far so good - but once passed the farm-gate,

things begin to go wrong. Britain imports over

three-quarters of its organic produce, and

despite consumer demand, only two per cent of its

land is organically farmed (14). As the market

has grown it has been met by imports.


A study looking at the energy consumption and

carbon dioxide emissions when importing organic

food products to the UK by plane (15) found that

carbon dioxide emissions range from 1.6 kilograms

to 10.7 kilograms. Air transport of food is the

worst environmental option but road transport,

especially unnecessary journeys, is also bad. For

example 5kg of Sicilian potatoes travelling 2448

miles emits 771 grams of carbon dioxide.


The problem is that, overall, human beings have

developed a tendency to deal with problems on an

ad hoc basis - i.e., to deal with 'problems of

the moment'. This does not foster an attitude of

seeing a problem embedded in the context of

another problem.


Globalisation makes it impossible for modern

societies to collapse in isolation. Any society

in turmoil today, no matter how remote, can cause

problems for prosperous societies on other

continents, and is also subject to their

influence (whether helpful or destabilising).


For the first time in history, we face the risk of a global decline.


Shocks to the system


As already stated, the three main purposes for

which oil is used worldwide are food, transport

and heating. Agriculture is almost entirely

dependent on reliable supplies of oil for

cultivation and for pumping water, and on gas for

its fertilisers; in addition, for every calorie

of energy used by agriculture itself, five more

are used for processing, storage and distribution.


Since farming and the food industry are not

famous for spending money unnecessarily, there

must be a presumption that there is very little

short-term 'slack' which would allow its demand

for energy to be reduced at short notice without

disruptions in food prices. In the case of

transport and heating fuel, there is more scope

for saving energy at short notice; cutting

leisure journeys, for instance, wearing extra

pullovers and, in the slightly longer term,

driving smaller cars have a role to play while,

in the longer term, there is a totally different

low-energy paradigm waiting to be developed. But

it is the short term that has to be survived

first and, in that short term, the competition

for oil for food, transport and heating will be

real and raw.


Through its dependence on oil, contemporary

farming is exposed to the whole question of the

sustainability of our use of fossil fuels. It

took 500 million years to produce these

hydrocarbon deposits and we are using them at a

rate in excess of 1 million times their natural

rate of production. On the time scale of

centuries, we certainly cannot expect to continue

using oil as freely and ubiquitously as we do

today. Something is going to have to change.


The same applies more widely to every natural

resource on which industrial civilisation relies.

Furthermore, one might think that there is a

compounded problem. Not only are there more

people consuming these resources, but their per

capita consumption also increases in line with

the elaboration of technology. We seem to be

facing a problem of diminishing returns, indeed

of running out of the vital raw materials needed

to support our economic growth.


Almost every current human endeavour from

transportation, to manufacturing, to electricity

to plastics, and especially food production is

inextricably intertwined with oil and natural gas


Commercial food production is oil powered. Most

pesticides are petroleum- (oil) based, and all

commercial fertilisers are ammonia-based. Ammonia

is produced from natural gas Oil based

agriculture is primarily responsible for the

world's population exploding from 1 billion at

the middle of the 19th century to 6.3 billion at

the turn of the 21st Oil allowed for farming

implements such as tractors, food storage systems

such as refrigerators, and food transport systems

such as trucks As oil production went up, so did

food production. As food production went up, so

did the population. As the population went up,

the demand for food went up, which increased the

demand for oil. Here we go round the Mulberry

bush Oil is also largely responsible for the

advances in medicine that have been made in the

last 150 years. Oil allowed for the mass

production of pharmaceutical drugs, and the

development of health care infrastructure such as

hospitals, ambulances, roads, etc.


We are now at a point where the demand for

food/oil continues to rise, while our ability to

produce it in an affordable fashion is about to



Within a few years of Peak Oil occurring, the

price of food will skyrocket because the cost of

fertiliser will soar. The cost of storing

(electricity) and transporting (gasoline) the

food that is produced will also soar.


Oil is required for a lot more than just food,

medicine, and transportation. It is also required

for nearly every consumer item, water supply

pumping, sewage disposal, garbage disposal,

street/park maintenance, hospitals and health

systems, police, fire services and national



Additionally, as you are probably already aware,

wars are often fought over oil.


Bottom line?


If we think we are food secure here in the UK and

other industrialised countries simply because we

have gas in the car, frankly, we are delusional.

Despite the appearance of an endless bounty of

food, it is a fragile bounty, dependent upon the

integrity of the global oil production, refining

and delivery system. That system is entirely

dependent on the thread of technology. Modern,

technology-based agriculture produces both food,

and seeds for next year's food, on a just-in-time

basis. There are precious little reserves of

either food or seeds to sustain any protracted



Technology and the incredibly rich tapestry it

has made possible has created a false sense of

security for so many of us. The thread is flawed;

the tapestry is now fragile; famines are

possible. We must take that seriously. . .


Our food supply, and our economic survival as a

whole, depends on the steady availability of

reasonably priced oil. Is oil our Achilles heel?


This means our food supply is:






The oil supplies that fuel the food system could

be exhausted by 2040 (19). In many regions oil

production has peaked and most reserves lie in

the Middle East. Food security is also

threatened: for example, even if all UK fruit

production was consumed in the UK, of every 100

fruit products purchased, only 5 will now have

been grown in the UK.





For every calorie of carrot, flown in from South

Africa, we use 66 calories of fuel. The huge fuel

use in the food system means more carbon dioxide

emissions, which means climate change, which

means more damage to food supplies, as well as

other major health and social problems.





Even organic supplies are becoming hugely

damaging as imports fill our shelves (17). One

shopping basket of 26 imported organic products

could have travelled 241,000 kilometres and

released as much CO2 into the atmosphere as an

average four bedroom household does through

cooking meals over eight months (18).


Other problems highlighted include loss of

nutrients in food, increased incidence and spread

of diseases such as Foot & Mouth and other major

animal welfare problems. Poor countries producing

food for distant markets are not necessarily

seeing benefits through increased and often

intensive production for export. The report

reveals how such trends could be reversed through

industry, government and public action.


In other words, we won't have to run completely

out of oil to be rudely awakened. The panic

starts once the world needs more oil than it gets.


To understand why, you've got to fathom how

totally addicted to oil we have become. We know

that petroleum is drawn from deep wells and

distilled into gasoline, jet fuel, and countless

other products that form the lifeblood of

industry and the adrenaline of military might.

It's less well known that the world's food is now

nourished by oil; petroleum and natural gas are

crucial at every step of modern agriculture, from

forming fertiliser to shipping crops. The

implications are grim. For millions, the

difference between an energy famine and a

biblical famine could well be academic.


Independent policy analyst David Fleming writes

in the British magazine Prospect (Nov. 2000),


With a global oil crisis looming like the

Doomsday Rock, why do so few political leaders

seem to care? Many experts refuse to take the

problem seriously because it "falls outside the

mind-set of market economics." Thanks to the

triumph of global capitalism, the free-market

model now reigns almost everywhere. The trouble

is, its principles "tend to break down when

applied to natural resources like oil." The

result is both potentially catastrophic and all

too human. Our high priests-the market

economists-are blind to a reality that in their

cosmology cannot exist.


Fleming offers several examples of this broken

logic at work. Many cling to a belief that higher

oil prices will spur more oil discoveries, but

they ignore what earth scientists have been

saying for years: there aren't any more big

discoveries to make. Most of the oil reserves we

tap today were actually identified by the

mid-1960s. There's a lot of oil left in the

ground - perhaps more than half of the total

recoverable supply. Fleming says that that is not

the issue. The real concern is the point beyond

which demand cannot be met. And with demand

destined to grow by as much as 3 percent a year,

the missing barrels will add up quickly. Once the

pain becomes real, the Darwinian impulse kicks in

and the orderly market gives way to chaos.


Some insist that industrial societies are growing

less dependent on oil. Fleming says they're

kidding themselves. They're talking about oil use

as a percentage of total energy use, not the

actual amount of oil burned. Measured by the

barrel, we're burning more and more. In Britain,

for instance, transportation needs have doubled

in volume since 1973 and still rely almost

entirely on oil. Transportation is the weak link

in any modern economy; choke off the oil and a

country quickly seizes.


This wouldn't matter much, Fleming laments, "If

the world had spent the last 25 years urgently

preparing alternative energies, conservation

technologies, and patterns of land use with a

much lower dependence on transport." (He figures

25 years to be the time it will take a country

like Britain to break its habit.) Instead, "the

long-expected shock finds us unprepared."




UK food supply chain


UK food retailing market was worth £103,800 million in 2001


Food manufacturing is the single-largest manufacturing industry in the UK


Food supply chain employs 12.5% of the entire workforce in the UK


Food supply chain contributes 8% to the UK economy


Food and drink accounts for 21% of weekly household expenditure


Food supply chain and unsustainability


Food supply chain is the largest energy user in the UK


Food production and distribution contributes up

to 22% of the UK's total greenhouse emissions


Food travels further than any other product - 129

km compared to the average product travel of 94 km


Wages in the food industry are notoriously low compared to other sectors


Nearly 30% of household waste is food waste




Proximity and localisation of food system would be beneficial.


The contemporary food system is inherently unsustainable.



Indicators of social, environmental and economic

performance, such as food security, greenhouse

gas emissions, food miles, farm income and

biodiversity highlight this fact. This process

could be reversed by re-establishing local and

regional food supply systems and substituting

'near for far' in production and distribution

systems. This would reduce both the demand for,

and the environmental burdens associated with,



The proximity principle is a straightforward

concept in Eating Oil, where production processes

are located as near to the consumer as possible.

When applied to food supply, local food systems

in the form of home-delivery box schemes,

farmers' markets and shops selling local produce

would replace imported and centrally distributed



Taking UK food supply and trade at present, there

is great potential to apply the proximity

principle, in the form of import substitution.

Apart from products such as bananas, coffee and

tea, many of the foodstuffs that are imported at

present could be produced in Britain. Many meat

products, cereals, dairy products and cooking

oils are - or could be - available here

throughout the year. So could fruit and

vegetables, perhaps the most seasonal of food

groups, through a combination of cultivating

different varieties and traditional and modern

storage and preservation techniques.


The land currently used to produce food that is

exported could be used to increase our




There is growing evidence of environmental

benefits of local sourcing of food in terms of

reduced transport-related environmental impact.

In the case of organic produce, a survey of

retailers compared local and global sourcing of

produce marketed in different outlets between

June and August 2001. Products were chosen that

were available in the UK during these months but

are at present imported by the multiple

retailers. These included spring onions imported

by plane from Mexico, potatoes imported by road

from Sicily, onions imported by ship from New

Zealand. It was found that local sourcing through

a farmers market, for example, would therefore

reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated

with distribution by a factor of 650 in the case

of a farmers' market and more for box schemes and

farm shop sales (16).


The value of UK food, feed and drink imports in

1999 was over £17 billion. It is clear that a

reduction in food imports through import

substitution would not only be of benefit to the

UK economy as a whole but could also be a major

driver in rural regeneration as farm incomes

would increase substantially. Local food systems

also have great potential to reduce the damaging

environmental effects of the current food supply



A sustainable food system cannot rely, almost

completely, on one finite energy source; an

energy source which causes enormous levels of

pollution during its production, distribution and

use. Although food supplies in wealthy countries

such as the UK appear to be secure and choice, in

terms of thousands of food products being

available at supermarkets, seems limitless, this

is an illusion.


The vulnerability of our food system to sudden

changes was demonstrated during the fuel crisis

in 2001. A sharp increase in the price of oil or

a reduction in oil supplies could present a far

more serious threat to food security and is

likely to as oil enters its depletion phase. Food

production and distribution, as they are

organised today, would not be able to function.

Moreover, the alternatives, in the form of

sustainable agriculture and local food supplies,

which minimise the use of crude oil, are

currently unable to respond to increased demand

due to low investment and capacity.


The food system is now a significant contributor

to climate change. Reducing the carbon dioxide

emissions from food production, processing and

distribution by minimising the distance between

producer and consumer should be a critical part

of any strategy to mitigate global warming.


There are many benefits to organic farming,

including reduced fossil fuel energy consumption

and greenhouse gas emissions. However, these are

often overshadowed by the environmental damage of

long distance transport. Organic products that

are transported long distances, particularly when

distribution is by plane, are almost as damaging

as their conventional air freighted counterparts.

Highly processed and packaged organic foodstuffs

have an added adverse environmental impact.


The priority must be the development of local and

regional food systems, preferably organically

based, in which a large percentage of demand is

met within the locality or region. This approach,

combined with fair trade, will ensure secure food

supplies, minimise fossil fuel consumption and

reduce the vulnerability associated with a

dependency on food exports (as well as imports).

Localising the food system will require

significant diversification, research, investment

and support that have, so far, not been

forthcoming. But it is achievable and we have

little choice.


Compiled by Norman Church




Norman Church

April 2nd, 2005






1 Green, B. M., 1978. Eating Oil - Energy Use in

Food Production. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.



2 Andersson, K. Ohlsson, P and Olsson, P. 1996,

Life Cycle Assessment of Tomato Ketchup. The

Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology,



3 Cowell, S., and R. Clift., 1996. Farming for

the future: an environmental perspective. Paper

presented at the Royal Agricultural Society of

the Commonwealth, July 1996,CES, University of



4. Data for shipping and airfreight from

Guidelines for company reporting on greenhouse

gas emissions. Department of the Environment,

Transport and the Regions: London, March 2001.

Data for trucks is based on Whitelegg, J., 1993.

Transport for a sustainable future: the case for

Europe. Belhaven Press, London; and Gover, M. P.,

1994. UK petrol and diesel demand: energy and

emission effects of a switch to diesel. Report

for the Department of Trade and Industry, HMSO,



5. BRE, 1998. Building a sustainable future.

General information report 53, energy efficiency

best practice programme, Building Research

Establishment, Garston, UK.


6. Caroline Lucas, 2001. Stopping the Great Food

Swap - Relocalising Europe's food supply. Green

Party, 2001.


7. 21 Lobstein, T, and Hoskins, R, The Perfect

Pinta. Food Facts No. 2. The SAFE Alliance, 1998.


8. FAO, 2001. Food Balance Database. 2001. Food

and Agriculture Organisation, Rome at www.fao.org


9 Colin J. Campbell, 1997. The Coming Oil Crisis.

Multi- Science Publishing Co. Ltd


10 Green Party USA, 2001. World crude oil

reserves - Statistical information. Based on data

from the Oil and Gas Journal and the Energy

Information Agency. At



11 Medea: European Agency for International

Information, 2001. Oil Reserves. at -

http://www.medea.be/en/ 11 David Fleming, 2001.

The Great Oil Denial. Submission to the UK Energy

Review. At




12 EIA, 2001. World Oil Market and Oil Price

Chronologies: 1970 - 2000. Department of Energy's

Office of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,

Analysis Division, Energy Information

Administration, Department of the Environment,

USA, at www.eia.doe.gov


13 Energy use in organic farming systems ADAS

Consulting for MAFF, Project OF0182, DEFRA,

London, 2001.


14 Natasha Walter, 2001. When will we get the

revolution. The Independent 19th July 2001.


15 Based on data on sourcing from UKROFS and a

survey of supermarket stores during June - August

2001; distance tables for air miles at

www.indo.com/cgi-bin/dist and the environmental

impact of airfreight in Guidelines for company

reporting on greenhouse gas emissions. Department

of the Environment, Transport and the Regions,

London, March 2001.


16 Data for shipping and airfreight from

Guidelines for company reporting on greenhouse

gas emissions. Department of the Environment,

Transport and the Regions: London, March 2001.

Data for trucks is based on Whitelegg, J., 1993.

Transport for a sustainable future: the case for

Europe. Belhaven Press, London; and Gover, M. P.,

1994. UK petrol and diesel demand: energy and

emission effects of a switch to diesel. Report

for the Department of Trade and Industry, HMSO,

London. Data for cars from the Vehicle

Certification Agency at www.vca.gov.uk;

Whitelegg, J., 1993. Transport for a sustainable

future: the case for Europe. Belhaven Press,

London; and Gover, M. P., 1994. UK petrol and

diesel demand: energy and emission effects of a

switch to diesel. Report for the Department of

Trade and Industry, HMSO, London.


17 RCEP, 2000. Energy - The Changing Climate. The

Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution,

Twenty-second Report, June 2000, HMSO, London.


18 DETR, 2001. The draft UK climate change programme. DETR, 2001. HMSO, London.


19 USDOE, 2001.World Carbon Dioxide Emissions

from the Consumption and Flaring of Fossil Fuels,

1980-1999. US Department of the Environment at