Exploring the Connection Between Food and Fuel

Alex Tiller - Thursday, August 16, 2012

There’s an interesting intersection between food production and energy production. Most of us, if asked about this, would say “sure – you need gas for your tractors and combines and such, and to truck food around the country”. That’s true – but that kind of fuel use isn’t always the most important element of production costs. It varies widely depending on the crop, but fertilizer costs are often significantly higher than direct fuel costs, and fertilizers are synthesized from oil. Rising or falling energy prices thus end up having a major influence on agricultural production, whether directly from fuel and electricity prices or indirectly by changing the price of the oil feedstock.

A new advocacy group called Sustainable America is exploring this intersection and proposing concrete actions that address the “food is fuel” paradigm. Their goal is to heighten awareness of the dependency of our food production on energy, and to foster more sustainable approaches to both energy and food production in the United States. There are a lot of interesting infographics and some compelling statistical trends.  The connection between food and energy is undeniable and is well worth considering. I suggest you check them out. (