ABSTRACT

In the United States, 3.1 percent of the nation’s total use of fossil fuel energy goes into primary agricultural production and 13.8 percent into processing, distribution, and preparation of food, and into other food-related operations. The corresponding figures for the United Kingdom are 4.6 percent and 22.8 percent, respectively. On the face of it, it would seem that there ought to be more opportunities to economize in the uses of energy in the food system after the food leaves the farm than in uses of energy on the farm itself. Also, fossil fuel energy put into growing crops and raising animals produces some return, albeit with widely differing efficiencies, in the form of metabolically utilizable food energy, whereas energy put into the postfarm food system cannot increase the amount of food energy available to the population and, in fact, decreases it considerably because of wastage.