The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

How Much Food per Year?

To make calculations of how much cultivation needs to take place on a plot of land, I was looking for a quick and easy way to survey the amount of food a family needs in one year. There are a few resources.

The Family Bulk Food Calculator is one, and comes up with a bunch of food that doesn't really fit my diet, but that's ok. There's this AAOOB place that seems to sell food in "FEMA" units. Knowing how well FEMA has done for itself in recent years, I might take these stats with a grain of salt (or 10 lbs of salt for one male over the course of one year). Each of these places seems to want to sell me stored food. Even is in on the action with the 1 Year Bulk Family Food Supply! Crazy stuff.

As a matter of fact, food storage can apparently be made easy, and very very pink. But I didn't want a year of food storage, I wanted a year of raw food to put in my belly.

I started wondering about how to convert from harvest volume to dry weight in order to figure out how much space would have to be cultivated to provide the food for one family for one year. First step is to find out how bushels convert to dry weight.

So I made a calculator based on the amount of average (mid to low) yield per product on the xls sheet on the pink page. I even included calculations I found for converting acres to gallons of canola oil:

Farmers traditionally set aside 10% of their land to feed the horses. Now days, if a farmer would set aside 10% of their land for an oil crop, they would produce enough oil and protein to supply most livestock operations. For example, an acre of canola yields 40 bushels. From 40 bushels you will make 2000 pounds of meal and 90 gallons of oil, not to mention 3 large round bales of straw and the ability to double crop, even in Wisconsin. The net gain is $560.00 per acre, which would equal corn at $4.00 a bushel without the ability to double crop.
From: HERE. That's some killer biomass left over. It's almost worth it just to grow canola for that!

A lot of my bushels per acre calculations came from here, and they are middling to low estimates. As for rice, where do we get it? Hmm apparently it will grow in Ontario. Sweet.

So far, grain intake is covered by about 0.64 acres of land. We'll see how far my math holds up later, but for now, the calculator is pretty fun.

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