The SUV in the Pantry

Starrs, Thomas
July 2005
Solar Today;Jul/Aug2005, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p4
Academic Journal
The article reports that growing, processing and delivering the food consumed by a family of four each year requires the equivalent of almost 34,000 kilowatt-hours of energy, or more than 930 gallons of gasoline. For comparison, the average U.S. household annually consumes about 10,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity, or about 1,070 gallons of gasoline. People use about as much energy to grow the food as to power the homes or fuel the cars. Overall, about 15 per cent of U.S. energy use goes to supplying Americans with food, split roughly equally between the production of crops and livestock, and food processing and packaging. The implications of agricultural energy use for the environment are disturbing. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture contributes over 20 per cent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, including more than 20 per cent of carbon dioxide, 55 per cent of methane and 65 per cent of nitrous oxide. For instance, Burgerville is a local chain that buys exclusively Oregon Country Beef, the branded product of 40 family ranches in the region that produce an all natural product made without hormones, genetically modified grain or any animal by products.


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