Episode-1532- Peak Food is the Real Long Slow Emergency — 56 Comments

  1. His prayer may not bring rain, but it may keep him from falling apart. Maybe he’s asking for peace in the face of disaster, not rain. I’m just sayin’.

  2. Is there a way to approach the long term problem from the other end? Population growth?

    • How are you going to affect Population growth? Regulation? Thaaats a good idea >_>

      • Lukkas, there is nothing wrong with population growth, the more you have, the richer you are. People are not a liability, they are the solution. It only takes one Alexander Fleming (Penicillin), one Albert Einstein, one Bill Gates or one Mark Zuckerberg to affect the majority of the planet in a good way. The more people you have, the greater the chance you’ll get one of these class of people. Keep in mind, there are more people in China with a genius level IQ then there are in the entire college population in the USA.

        Don’t let the liberals fool you that there are too many people in the world, if there is any doubt, next time you are on a flight across the country, just look down. There is lots of empty space.


        • Might your point actually be a reference to the quality of people entering college in the USA? I know a few people of genius IQ who’ve expressed no interest in college and took different paths.

          As far as the topic of overpopulation, I wasn’t actually agreeing with the claim, merely inquiring as to Wiggin’s plan on the subject.

          As for empty space, I’d actually like to see a lot of that empty space converted to (or retained as) wilderness.

        • How exactly do you moderate population growth?

          It is called prosperity. The moment people feel secure in their futures they have less children. Look at the birth rates in nations with modern economies and reasonable security like the US. Our birth rate minus immigration isn’t even enough to maintain the current population.

          There is no need to regulate population or even worry about it if we focus on abundance. Even China is now slowing in growth and not just due to laws. The laws against reproduction there were NOT ever effective and that bullshit we were told in the 80s about babies being drowned was just that bullshit!

          Now Steven, you bet your ass population growth is a problem. If you ever do keep animals you will soon learn, “setting limits to population and consumption” isn’t just the original third ethic, it is a law. If you don’t set limits nature will do it for you.

          The other side of that sword is our economy isn’t built to work with a flat population. SSI is one of many causalities it will have.

        • “Next time you are on a flight across the country, just look down. There is lots of empty space.”

          None of that space is “empty.” It is filled by natural ecosystems, upon which humanity depends for its very survival. Seeing these kinds of areas as “empty” is a dangerously anthropocentric worldview that leads to completely ignoring the 1st and 3rd ethics of permaculture (care of the earth and return of surplus), which, by default, leads to trashing the 2nd ethic (care of people).

        • @Chris H, Ignore my first response as I now realize your comment above was to Steven Harris, when you direct reply doing a @steven or something like that makes things more clear.

          I think your point is valid in the context with your response to Steven. He is a genius on many levels but this sustainable stuff is still largely in the ether for him.

          The comment does sound also like something I would say in totally different context though. All that space if managed in a horticultural fashion by people who had earth care, people care and return of surplus as guiding ethics would become more rich, more diverse and there by more stable.

  3. This subject has seriously impacted my life.  Unlike some folks I am lucky enough to have acreage in the country.  For decades I have raised feeder calves to sell to others to finish out for beef.  This spring when I went to buy day old calves (usually $40-100 tops) the price of calves is now almost $400.  This is  not for a pretty little beef breed calf but rather the price of a cull Holstein bull calf.  I have seen some unethical people selling day old Jersey calves (about as big as a Golden Retriever and weighing 40-50 pounds) for as much as $500 to unsuspecting but panicked buyers.  My acreage is sitting vacant because I simply can not afford to buy anything to stock it with this year.  Bummer (orphan lambs) usually $10-20 each are being priced at over $100.  Goats even higher.  

    I am to be honest both scared to death and deeply pissed by what I call the “tomato” effect.  A few years ago the price of tomatoes went up to nearly $5.00 a pound.  I refused to buy them while other well financed folks kept right on buying.  The net effect was that the price of tomatoes  has been  artificially raised because producers now know they can market less at a higher cost and increase their profits with much less investment.

    The calves that are selling for $380 each are being sold as “Bob veal” and being slaughtered at less than a week of age.  They weigh about 80-100 pounds.  Do you have any idea how much the carcass yield is on a bony day old calf?  I have heard in the range of  20 to a high of 50 pounds.  On the other hand, a steer raised out to maturity,On grass will weigh in the range of 1800 pounds at about two years of age.  However, removing those calves from the market early will allow beef prices to be kept high for years and years to come.  A lot of people do not know it but day old calves from dairy farms are a huge component of the meat produced annually.  

    I know a lot of people think the drought played havoc with the beef industry and it did have a role.  However, a little research will show herd numbers are already rapidly increasing but I suspect yet another industry has succumbed to the tomato effect.  We can produce all the food needed but I fear many are only going to produce to maximize profits.

    • When I was a kid ( in the late 80s early 90s)My grandmother her sister and there mother (my great grandmother) would do this but at the time the calves were only $25 for a bull and $50 ish for a heifer and I would spend most of my summer helping them bottle feed them. When the they were about two they would sell them all the steers for meat and the heifers would go to a dairy. I remember when that dairy was sold now it is nothing but more homes a bank and a grocery store.
      And I think you are right people don’t know how much of our meat comes from the dairy industry. I wonder if they are also selling the heifers for veal.

    • We were talking about this at length at PV2. Just the name of the game I guess. It’s a good reason to start looking into some techniques to be able to build up stock and genetics to avoid some of this mess, but the cost of entry might be brutal.

      But a fixed cost is a fixed cost, the reality is somebody is going to pay for it, and it isn’t the farmer. Maybe this is why I’m seeing 8+ dollars for ground beef at the store now….

      Check for edit.

  4. Jack got his numbers CORRECT. Most people don’t when it comes to calories. There are 31,000 KILO-Calories in a gallon of gasoline. Kilo-Calories when it comes to food are just labeled Calories. A calorie of food is really 1000 calories of energy, or a kilocalorie.

    The physics department of University of California San Diego has this excellent article on how many Miles Per Gallon does a human get with food.


    • Cool article. It states that “every one kilocalorie of food eaten has consumed about 10 kcal of fossil fuel energy.” I read this a few years ago in Omnovore’s Dilemma (that industrial ag operates at a 10:1 inefficiency), and always wondered how accurate it is. Nice to have the math after all this time! Thanks.

  5. On the subject of religion and horticulture vs agriculture, it’s pretty interesting to look at the Judeo-Christian belief system and see how according to those beliefs, God walked on earth with humanity during the horticultural years (man’s time Tending The Garden) and cursed man to struggle and labor in the dirt.

  6. I have not watered my lawn since 2012. I’m not sure if my sprinkler system even works anymore. I also fired scott lawns that year. My grass is tough. All I do is add compost in winter and mulch the clippings. Got the pictures to prove it.

  7. Jack, that was BRILLIANT!!!
    I am going to seed my garden tomorrow morning, although it might already be late. I will not be one of those who have never grown an ounce of food.
    Thanks for that emotional reminder.

  8. When you change a society from an agrarian society to an industrial society and concentrate the majority of food production into the hands of maximum extractions to maximum profit corporations this is what happens. Modern agricultural practices are designed around maximum extraction. Nothing is really returned to the earth. We use farmland as a hydroponic substrate to hold up crops that are irrigated with drinking pure water and fertilized with petroleum extracts. The soil is dead in most farmlands! We concentrate animals in factory farms and feed them diets (grains and other waste products) that they were not designed to handle and as result have to pump them full of meds and antibiotics to keep them alive. Not to mention the amount of concentrated waste they are exposed to and WE are exposed to! Industrialized society also has taken mothers out of homes to work to pay for the increased cost of living in the city, and the loss of parental influence, home economy, and nutrition suffers as we are more reliant on processed foods- as well as more reliant on the government than any time in American History! It goes round and round in a great spiral of death. The only way to break the death spiral we are on is to train young people there is a different path they can take, before they are farmed as tax and debt resources. I really believe there needs to be schools and apprenticeship systems set up to give them a chance to understand there is a better way to live, to create economy, and to heal the earth for their own benefit, with systems to raise capital to buy land. I don’t think anything like this is going to happen on a large scale without a creation of an alternative society with it’s own economy like that in Freedom TM by Daniel Suarez.

  9. I am hopeful with innovations like Permaculture and Survival podcast and Open Source Ecology but am concerned that it’s not enough. I feel that even I, as much as I have absorbed and what I know, cannot really provide a better solution to my children today. You see, I am stuck half way in both worlds right now. I’m just stuck on the hamster wheel. I don’t have the complete skills, support or saved resources to chuck it all and start over would likely lose my wife if I did.
    How can I train my kids to do something I’m not wholly doing right now and don’t have the time to do so since I’m chained to work? I can show them bits and pieces but not the whole thing. What I’m doing now is working on ways to build my own businesses so that I can have to freedom do do what I need to do. I hope I’m not too late.

    • Sounds like you are doing super to me!! You are very responsible and thoughtful. Though I do understand your frustration. Things can seem overwhelming.

      But I believe that you are all about doing the best that you can do.

      Perhaps if you make some short term maneagable objectives for each week, month or so, you will enjoy the rewards of meeting these objectives, rather than worrying about getting everything under control.
      Bits and pieces for the kids is actually quite alot. I learned a lot of bits and pieces from my parents with out even realizing it, and put them to good use later in life. You will be a resource for them after they grow up as well.
      The kids will learn as and when they grow up and then decide their own paths. You sound like a great parent. That is what is needed!!!

  10. Just for the record, honey bees are guard bees before foregers. At about 18-21 days their venom is most potent. They become field or foregers after their guard duty time.

  11. Thanks, Jack! That totally rocked. Thanks for the heads-up on the world hunger ahead and for motivating me to do something about it in my corner of the desert.

  12. Jack,
    The last two shows were simply great.
    You were really inspiring in both of them.
    It made me remember the time you still were doing the show from the car.
    You changed my life and I am taking a PDC with Geoff because of you.
    Keep up the great work.
    Renato from Brazil.

  13. Epiphany’s are emotionally draining, and can cause a reorganization of thoughts and priorities. I think you are doing very well.

    I read the links and watched the videos before I listened to your podcast so I would be able to keep up with what you were saying. I also read the full article that the summary was extracted from. I’m not so fond of their ideas “remedy’s” and I’m also not so gullible to believe it hasn’t already started. I live in SW Michigan, I see it every day. I’m also too close to a nuclear plant.

    I am torn between sticking around and helping my sisters and neighbors with the little I have already learned and Moving to Missouri to help my brother and his family with what I’ve learned so far. I just know I don’t want to keep it to myself.

    I plant lot’s of seeds, trying to keep people from turning me off completely. I can’t state facts the way you do yet so I have to be careful I don’t come off as a babbling idiot. I did at first, I got un-friended a lot, luckily my friends love me and gave me another chance when I learned to chill with the information better.

    I did write one article that was published in my local news paper trying to introduce the concept of permaculture, I basically thanked the city for planting trees in front of every house that didn’t already have one and as an aside said that it smacks of permaculture, then briefly explained why I thought so. It took a lot of courage for me to walk into the news paper and city hall with my article/letter my legs were like jelly by the time I was finished.

    Okay I’m finished sorry for going on so long.

    • PV2 was one of the most draining experiences I’ve had in a long time. It didn’t help we stayed up past 1am every night drinking and having in depth conversations.

      I think by day 3 most people were burnt out, and by the final day everyone was toast. (Of course in good ways).

    • Evelyn,
      The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry is having a workshop on April 11th. This may be helpful in giving your brother and his family a basic starting point and introduction. There will be a more involved Agroforestry Academy x 4 days in July. More info. here:

  14. Certainly appears politics, laws, regulations and so on get in the way of “simple solutions”! Imagine how dramatically things would change if hemp was allowed?

  15. This is another great podcast Jack. It’s putting my mind in a great place knowing me and my 80 something year old neighbor are putting a 40×5 garden in his backyard. He’s getting to old to do it himself and needs my help. I’ll be putting all the knowledge that you’ve taught me and combining it with his. He’s had a garden in his yard since he wad a child. Only the year of hurricane Katrina did he not. Thank you so much again Jack.

  16. I was a PV2 and heard Paul Stamets speak. Wow. I learned a lot. Just a quick addition to your story about Paul Stamets and the impact of bear scratching trees which eventually brings mushrooms which in turn helps the bees. The problem originated when the timber industry put bounties on bears so they wouldn’t scratch and “damage” the trees. Hundreds, if not thousands of bears were destroyed. Then the forest service and the timber industry cut down the trees that were still scratched. This doesn’t change the outcome but I thought you might want to add that piece if you share the story again in the future.

    • Thank you! Very important detail, I can’t wait to get my hands on the audios of PV2. I know I missed so much which is hard for me because normally my memory is almost identic. But between the beers, the mead and the hundreds of people I talked to a lot of gaps that normally are not there, are there.

      I guess this is what it is like for most people every day? I have to say, I don’t like it, LOL.

      • HA!

        Yeah I’m going to put together a presentation of what PV2 was all about as a funnel to start building my permaculture army here soon. I wasn’t going to buy the audio/video but I’m heavily considering that now.

  17. Anyone find the link to the report on 1/3 the soil being ruined? I wanna show a few buddies.

  18. Jack,
    Can you provide a link or source for the Bees and inoculated sap info? I haven’t heard about that connection before. Is it something new?

  19. Really nice to see this type of episode again. Reminds of when I first subscribed to this podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I love the permaculture stuff also, but there is some really scary happenings in the world monetarily, geopolitically, and ecologically that is in no way ‘tin foil hat’.

    The majority of the population has adopted a certain techno-optimism. It is almost a religion. You can tell because when you challenge someone with ideas about real hard limits and they respond with a moronic idea like ‘solar roads’ they react emotionally, as if you had just challenged their religion. I’ve almost given up trying and instead refocused my efforts on my little homestead.

    • I posted the links to Paul Stamet because Brian asked for the Bee’s inoculated sap information and I had just run across information on the guy at “Missouri Permaculture” a day or two ago, where I posted my opinion promptly on their facebook. I wasn’t going to say anything here at first but the more I thought about it the more I thought I should even if it is my own opinion.

      I’m not sure that I’m okay with how Paul Stamet, the fungus guy achieves his fungal warfare. I admit I haven’t done years of research, or even known about the guy for very long, but my first introduction to him was pretty scary. He modified a fungus that would consume a termite, a fungus that they have a natural aversion to under normal circumstances. I’m not saying he is evil I’m just saying I don’t want some fungus modified artificially in a lab doing a job that it normally wouldn’t do. Nature built in safeguards that he is bypassing I just don’t like it.
      I also don’t like the patent idea, except that it keeps the big entities like Monsanto from having them. I really hope if this guy continues he has the integrity to keep a really really open mind that something could go wrong and the humility to terminate at the hint of a problem.

      Just had to say it.

  20. This episode is inspiring me to do much bigger shit with my life than just carve out my own little niche of self sufficiency while the world falls apart around me.

    Thank you Jack.

    Simply fucking beautiful.

  21. Yeah! Nice work Jack, swing the mutha effin bat people!

    “Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” – Wu Li