Hot 5: LoCo Foods. Energy-Smart Food. Joel Salatin. REN21 Biofuels Report. Singularity Trailer.

1. LoCo Foods Distribution Business in Colorado

This young start-up business, LoCo Foods, out of Fort Collins, Colorado is growing rapidly. They pick up local food from producers and distribute it to local consumer markets such as grocery stores and restaurants.

2. New Report: Energy-Smart Food (FAO)

The FAO released this report ahead of the Rio+20 Conference which begins… Agriculture’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels is undermining the sector’s ability to feed the world, perpetuating poverty and undermining efforts to build a more sustainable world economy. … there is great scope for improving food transportation and related infrastructure, better insulating storage facilities, cutting down on packaging, reducing food waste, and cooking more efficiently.

The report states that 30 percent of the world’s energy is used in the food system, and that 70 percent of that amount happens after the food leaves the farm for transport, processing, packing, shipping, storing, marketing and preparation. They call for reducing the waste in the system, but also for bringing more electricity and energy to those who don’t have it to help them rise from poverty.

  • Developed countries use about 35 gigajoules per person a year for food and agriculture (nearly half in processing and distribution).
  • Developing countries use only 8 gigajoules per person per year (nearly half for cooking).

3. Joel Salatin Nails Farmers Markets!

The Boulder Farmers Market

One of the books that I am currently reading is Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin. Here is what he says about the farmers market:

The ugly truth is that if most people actually went to farmers’ markets to buy serious food, they’d wipe out the whole place in about twenty minutes. The average person is still under the aberrant delusion that food should be somebody else’s responsibility until I’m ready to eat it. Most farmers’ market buyers can only buy enough to fill one hand because the other is holding the leash for Fifi, the upscale, perfectly manicured poodle, or other canine of equal pampering. I like little ribboned bottles of condiments and cute bow-tied mini-breads. But I want to see people really buying their food, displacing their supermarket patronage, period.

Our Boulder farmers market, though widely attended, sees an average individual expenditure of about $7. It is all about customer feel-good entertainment. I often wonder what the people working behind the organic vendor stands are really thinking.

4. 2011 Report on Biofuels from REN21, and “Biofuels, The Elephant in the Room”

  • Liquid biofuels provided about 3% of global road transport fuels in 2011, more than any other renewable energy source in the transport sector.
  • Biodiesel production expanded in 2011 and ethanol production was stable or down slightly compared with 2010.
  • Regulatory policies supporting biofuels existed in at least 46 countries at the national level and in 26 states and provinces by early 2012, with three countries enacting new mandates during 2011 and at least six increasing existing mandates. Transport fuel-tax exemptions and biofuel production subsidies also existed in at least 19 countries. At the same time, Brazil’s mandated ethanol blend level was reduced, partly in response to low sugar-cane yields, while long-term ethanol support policies in the United States were allowed to expire at year’s end.
  • Several airlines began to operate commercial flights using various biofuels blends, and interest in advanced biofuels continued to increase, although production levels remain relatively low. Limited but growing quantities of gaseous biofuels (mainly biomethane) are fuelling trains, buses, and other vehicles, particularly in Europe.
  • In 2011, liquid biofuels were used for heating in several European countries, including Germany, Portugal, and Sweden, and their use is poised to grow further as an increasing number of U.S. states require that all heating oil sold must contain a blend of biodiesel.
  • China was the world’s third largest ethanol producer and Asia’s largest in 2011, at 2.1 billion litres. It was followed by Canada (1.8 billion litres), France (1.1 billion), and Germany (0.8 billion). Africa accounted for only a tiny share of world production, but saw a slight increase during 2011 compared with 2010.
  • In contrast to ethanol, global biodiesel production continued to expand, increasing by almost 16% to 21.4 billion litres in 2011, compared with 18.5 billion litres in 2010.
  • The United States saw a record year, with biodiesel production increasing by 159% to nearly 3.2 billion litres, mainly from soybeans.
  • As a result, the country passed the 2010 leaders, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, and France, to become the world’s top producer. The dramatic increase in biodiesel production in the United States was due to a government mandate in mid-2010 that required refiners to blend 3.1 billion litres (800 million gallons) of biodiesel with diesel fuel in 2011 or face stiff daily fines.
  • The EU remained the largest regional producer of biodiesel, but its total production declined by 6%, and the EU share of the world total was down from 53% in 2010 to 43% in 2011.
  • As of mid-2011, mandates in place around the world called for a biofuels market of at least 220 billion litres by 2022, with expected demand to be driven primarily by Brazil, China, the EU, and the United States.

  • Among solid biomass fuels, the manufacture of wood pellets has experienced the most significant growth over the last 10 years. Between 2000 and 2011, global pellet production grew by an annual average of 25%, with production approaching 18.3 million tonnes in 2011. The world’s largest producers were the United States, Canada, and Europe (led by Germany, Sweden, Austria, and Poland). Elsewhere, Russia and China are becoming sizable and growing producers and consumers of pellets, with production capacity of around 2 and 0.75 million tonnes, respectively, in 2011.

The Belfast Telegraph called biofuels the “elephant in the room” for the RIO+20 conference, the subject that no one will talk about.

ActionAid urged leaders including David Cameron to rethink Europe’s mandatory target of 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020, which has made the EU the world’s biggest producer and consumer of biodiesel.

In a report, the charity cited estimates that EU biodiesel use could push oil seed prices up by as much as 20% and vegetable oils 36% by 2020, while EU ethanol consumption could lift maize prices by 22% and sugar by 21%.

Already, 66% of vegetable oils from crops grown in the EU are used for biofuels, said the report. Global production of biofuels has increased from 16 billion to 100 billion litres between 2000 and 2010 and is forecast to grow strongly.

5. Movie Trailer: The Singularity is Near

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