Lifestyles and Energy Use in Human Food Chains

Heilig, G.K. (1993). Lifestyles and Energy Use in Human Food Chains. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-93-014

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The supply of food is one of the most energy consuming tasks in a society. Even in highly industrialized countries more fossil energy is spent in the food sector than in industry. Usually some 30% of the overall fossil energy consumption is used just for feeding the population. This, however, includes everything -- from the production of fertilizers and agricultural machinery to the fueling of irrigation pumps and drainage systems; from energy use in cultivation and harvesting, to energy consumption in processing, storage, transportation, and preparation of food.

Only a small -- and declining -- proportion of the total fossil energy consumption in the food sector is spent for food production -- most of it (some 90%) goes to the processing, storage, conservation, transport and preparation of food. Contrary to conventional wisdom it is not the high-tech farmers who are responsible for the enormous energy consumption in the food sector. It is the food industries, food traders, restaurants and households which spend most of the fossil energy in the food system. This is the reason, why lifestyles are much more important for studying energetic efficiency in food chains than the frequently analyzed input-output rates in agricultural production.

This paper argues that the energy efficiency of food must be analyzed for whole food chains - including production, harvesting, slaughtering, processing, storage, transportation and preparation in the household.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:02
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:14

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