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The Oil We Eat

By July 24, 2006July 14th, 2019No Comments

Yesterday I read the most depress­ing art­icle I have come across in a long while. First pub­lished in Harper’s in February 2004, I’m glad I only came across it yes­ter­day. I don’t think I’ll ever for­get it.

In The Oil We Eat, Richard Manning gave me a geo­graphy (and bio­logy, and plant physiology) les­son I could have used back when I star­ted, I don’t know, eat­ing I suppose:

Special as we humans are, we get no exemp­tions from the rules. All anim­als eat plants or eat anim­als that eat plants. This is the food chain, and pulling it is the unique abil­ity of plants to turn sun­light into stored energy in the form of car­bo­hydrates, the basic fuel of all anim­als. Solar-powered pho­to­syn­thes­is is the only way to make this fuel. There is no altern­at­ive to plant energy, just as there is no altern­at­ive to oxy­gen. The res­ults of tak­ing away our plant energy may not be as sud­den as cut­ting off oxy­gen, but they are as sure.”

Unfortunately, Manning seems to recom­mend only eat­ing what you can kill or grow close to home but I only have Phil and Don here and I was fat­ten­ing them up for anoth­er pro­ject, I can’t ima­gine them going for more than few meals anyway.

So, at the end of the day I did what any red-blooded male would do when con­fron­ted with the immin­ent demise of the plan­et and every­one on it: I cracked open a beer and switched on Top Gear and tried not think about it.