Minnesota Farmer


Its always been this way

imagesFood verses fuel, or food and fuel, this is a debate I hear nearly every day, but what so many do not realize is that since man first got fire the earth has always provided him with food and fuel.

Now stop and think about it.  You are concerned that foods you eat may be diverted to use for fuel.  You consider that this is a new phenomenon.  The truth is that only in the last century or so has the earths surface not provided the world with fuel.  Only when we dug down for coal, oil and nuclear energy did man move away from the fuels provided by the forests and fields of agriculture.

imagesHow did the horses and oxen of our great grandfathers generation move?  They ate plant materials and turned them into energy.  Before WWII most of the production of a farm went to feeding the horses and oxen that pulled the plows, wagons and buggies.  Very little of the food produced on a farm actually made it into town.

a Stanley Steamer

a Stanley Steamer

When the train and the automobile were first introduced they was powered by ethanol, from fermented grains or other food crops, or steam, produced mostly from coal or wood, not oil, thus powering early trains and autos on the produce of farms and forests.  Early oil discoveries were used in medicines and as lubricants.  Then some oil man figured out how to make a motor fuel cheaper than ethanol and we moved into the modern era with our addiction to oil.

When Germany went to war it had very little for oil reserves and initially powered its war machine on potato alcohol.  When bootleggers needed a fuel to outrun government pursuit they fueled their boats and cars with alcohol and ethanol.  It is only since WWII that man has depended almost solely on oil for his motor fuels.

So you see, except for a brief part of history, man has relied on farms and forests to provide him with food and fuel.  It is only in the “modern” era, an era of smog, pollution and global warming, has man relied on the fossil fuels of coal, oil and natural gas.  Perhaps it’s time we got back to the farm to fuel our world.  I’m not such a fan of pollution and global warming.images-1

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[…] producing food and fuel is not a new thing.  In a previous post “It’s always been this way” I talked about how farmers have raised food and fuel for the world for as far back as there […]

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