Soccer moms

As I mentioned recently my son has taken up soccer. While I’m at the “games” I partake in the art of observation frequently to look over other people and think about them. I do sometimes watch his games, but come on, it’s 5 year old playing soccer! It’s soccer!

Anyway, I can’t help but notice how many of the people there drive in a very nice minivan. A lot of them arrive in two cars (presumably because one came straight from work while one herded children and brought them to the event) . I can’t help but see how many of them are talking on the phone, seeming to work based on the animations of the conversations and the use of headset thingies.

I wonder how these people will cope with Peak Oil. We all know it’s coming. We know the world has already peaked. Hell, CNN ran an article on it recently, so it’s getting more mainstream. But when I see these people so wrapped up in their little worlds I wonder how they will deal with the fact that very soon their gasoline will be twice or more what it currently is per gallon. Or that their food prices will rise even more.  I wonder how they will cope when their identities, their work, is stripped away from them and they have to make human connections with people.

I look at them and seriously wonder how many of those moms (or dads) would be able to cook a meal from basic ingredients.  I even saw a kid at the store recently looking at packet of information on how to make mashed potatoes.  The packet was a packet full of spices so he could make buttered mashed potatoes!  Not even special flavored potatoes.  Luckily I was there to set him straight on how to do it without the $2 packet he was buying, but isn’t that concerning?  That a kid (he was probably 16 or 18) can know so little about how to cook that he can’t even make mashed potatoes?

How many would be able to grow something to eat? It makes me scared for them. During the Depression there were plenty of people in food lines, and even then the percentage of people on farms was way higher than it is now, and the people who lived in the city had worked on farms growing up, for the most part.  The people in the cities had the past knowledge of how to farm so they could produce their food if they had the space and inclination.  Today most people have only seen plants when their landscaper planted their lone front yard tree and a couple bushes. It’s kind of scary when we think about it.  We’re all responsible for this.  Not just some of us.  All of us.  Every single one of us can grow some food in our yards, but we are choosing not to.  Choosing to outsource this vital resource to China and Chile and New Zealand because we can get the product for 10 cents less a pound.

I’ve talked to my Memaw (grandmother in law) about the Depression since I’ve become Peak Oil aware, and the biggest impact she’s left on me from those times is that while her family wasn’t rich, by any means, during the Depression they were because they had food. Since they had a farm they had food. I wonder if that will be the same in the future. Will people have food? Will people have farms? Or land to farm? It’s less than 2% of our population today that currently live on a farm.  What will the other 98% of us do for our food?  If we can’t buy it what then?  I’m in the same boat you are.  I can’t an anyway meet the needs of my family from my given plot of land.  But I can certainly try to produce as much as I can.

Will you measure your worth in the future in how many potatoes you have in your cellar?  The friends you have?  The family you have?  The reputation of your handshake?  The respect you’ve earned by proving your worth to others?

Maybe we should.  Maybe that would be a better way to measure your worth than the latest Dow Industrial quote or home values.  Maybe that should happen now.


5 responses to “Soccer moms

  1. My husband had the same experience, except it was in the 80’s and not the Depression. His foster parents were extrememly poor, but they ate very well off their 2-acre garden, raised their own beef, pork and chicken, and had dairy goats.

  2. These thoughts sound much like the discussions my sweetie and I have regularly these days. We’re working towards figuring out how to live in a changing world where we need to grow more of our own food, cook almost everything from scratch, preserve food, and use less resources.

    Last night, I was debating whether to keep the electric citrus juicer for volume juicing even though I do have a manual juicer. It dawned on me that I was asking the wrong question. The right question was: Will juicing be the right way to use and preserve citrus, especially since freezing the juice requires a lot of energy? My sweetie also pointed out that there is a high likelihood that we will not have local produce (unless we can swing a dwarf lemon tree in a greenhouse).

    These shifts in thinking about the problems are challenging and we are aware of the possible future. For those that continue to live in denial, it’s gonna be a tough ride.

  3. Over the past year, I have had very similar experiences with wondering how we will survive when we can’t depend on cheap oil for everything from our transportation to and from down to the very food we eat (have you read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma?).

    My husband and I are taking action by growing what we can, raising chickens, buying local, and most importantly, reducing our debt so that when the time comes, we won’t need so much cash, but like you, I see a lot of people who are just going through their daily lives as if nothing is changing.

    I hope we get smart … and soon. I hope that people will be able to let go of some of the luxuries in our lives (like convenience foods, plastic toys and getting into the car for every sub-mile trip) so that we can continue to enjoy some of the things that make our lives easier, like the electricity and the Internet ;).

  4. Of course I have! You can’t not be into local foods after you’ve read that book.

    Deep Economy by Bill McKibben is also good along the same lines.

  5. I had an interesting talk with a stranger at a wedding in Wisconsin this past Saturday regarding this topic (specifically the keep up with the Joneses type people). His reply: “They’ll adapt. ” I met a former farmer turned insurance salesemen sitting next to me at the dinner table. We started out with the usually small talk pleasantries and then discussed ethanol and its negative impacts-soil degragation, polluted water, deforestation and desalination. We moved on from ethanol to peak oil implications, although neither of us mentioned PO specifically, the gentleman knew the possible score, if not the name. I spoke about CSAs and the localvore movement. He was interested and reminded him of his youth living on the farm and eating food in season. It was amazing as he was pushing retirement age, still lived on his farm, most of the land is in CRP and I would have never have guessed to have a talk like this with him when we first sat down. I think more and more people are waking up to the truth, which is encouraging.

    Regarding food production, I recently signed up for the Master Gardeners program and will take the 12 week course this winter. I plan on stealthily introducing permaculture topics and other biointensive gardening ideas to the MGs. I will probably be the youngest person in class, but look forward to be able to tap into the knowledge of the more experienced gardeners. I think the MGs could play an important part in the future to teach people how to garden again.

    It’s also encouraging to see that my county had to add an additional class this fall to accomodate the growing interest in the MG program.

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