I came across this presentation by James H. Kunstler from a TED conference in 2004 while reading Postgreen's really cool blog about sustainable design and development. (Caution: Kunstler uses some colorful, not necessarily safe for work, language to make some of his points.) Most of the video, which is worth watching especially if you like it when someone totally trashes the abominable land use and design decisions that took hold of our country after World War II, is about the world we have created in the presence of cheap fossil fuels. Kunstler brings his point home by saying (remember... back in 2004) that the era of cheap fossil fuels is coming to an end. He's also more than a little pessimistic about the idea that we'll be able to replace this cheap power source entirely with renewable, clean energy. The key will be rethinking the way we live and how much space and energy we consume. Of particular interest in to anyone who wants to get a food co-op started and is thinking about what principles can guide the product selection is a point Kunstler makes at about the 16-minute mark of the video. It's a point which had been made before him and continues to be made to this day:
We're going to have to grow more food closer to where we live. The age of the 3000-mile Caesar salad is coming to an end.For us as citizens (note: I didn't say "consumers") this means a commitment to buying food that is grown closer to where we live and, hopefully, supporting a business that is committed to selling as much locally grown food as possible. (Edited to add: and living as close to each other as we do in South Philly, we've already made the choice to live in such a way that is energy conscious. We are definitely a market that can sustain such a business.) Anyway, watch the video. It's actually very funny in places. Kunstler is like a Lewis Black-type shock comic who focuses on sustainability.