Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back to the future: let's bring back the Truck Farms

The way the US economy is currently structured (ahem), the high (and increasing) cost of energy is going to make for a rocky ride. But in dislocation there's opportunity too. One of my favorite restructuring opportunities is underscored in this article.

I hope the increasing untenability (due to the cheap energy foundation) of the suburban lifestyle as well as industrial agriculture will combine to lead family farmers to start growing food (instead of industrial commodities) on what were once the nicely tended lawns of suburbia. Or at least those pie slices of suburbia located far away from mass transit lanes). I'm thinking a modified McMansion would make a suitable structure for staging the produced food and sheltering the supplies and equipment. Redirect the central air into a cold storage "great room". Thanks to the multiple levels of government involved, there are already good roads for bringing the food to market.

Also important: using digital mapping and routing to reduce the energy (and cost) needed to move the food from the myriad of producers to the urban consuming public. Yes, there's still a role for truck transport to play, but we will need to transition long hauls (decreasingly fresh foodstuffs) to rail in our emerging energy future.

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