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Food, Water, Energy Shortages / Where Does Our Food Come From? – The End of Food



July 13, 2008 – Comments (26) | RELATED TICKERS: PHO , FIW , RJA

Food, Water, Energy Shortages is a topic that has been blogged about very often here at Caps. It is a very important topic and as with homebuilders, the collapse of financials, inflation, rising oil prices, etc. I believe it is a topic that really cannot be talked about enough. Many bloggers have discussed many of these topics in more detail (bellard, FourthAxis, TMFDeej, AnomaLee, camistocks, abitarecatania, etc.). What prompted this blog on my part was a radio interview I heard last weekend I heard on Bob Edwards Weekend. It was with Paul Roberts, author of The End of Food. I know, I know that is a very sensational book title. But the topic and how he articulated it was fascinating and not all doom-and-gloom. 

Let me preempt by saying I have not read this book, or his other book The End of Oil. So perhaps he is more doom-and-gloom in his books than he is on the radio. But let me say that he makes several points about current trends and changing behavior before a major crisis occurs. And much of these echo the same points that many of our Caps bloggers have articulated. 

For those of you who like Futurama, a Kif / Zapp Brannigan exchange is quite apt for the situation: 

Kif Kroker: Captain, may I have a word with you?
Captain Zapp Brannigan: No.
Kif Kroker: It's an emergency, sir.
Captain Zapp Brannigan: Come back when it's a catastrophe. 

… :) 

Many of us have blogged about the state of emergency of the economy, the financial sector, about peak oil, and food and water shortages. And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how these could turn into catastrophes. There are some catastrophes that are unavoidable because of the inaction occurred when something could be done about them. But food is a burgeoning emergency, and can be stopped before it becomes a catastrophe. That’s not to say that there are not horrific situations right now. There is starvation in Africa and Asia, where people cannot cope with the increasing food prices currently. However this is the tip of a possible iceberg in terms of truly global food shortages. We can see that the outcome if nothing is changed is so bad that the human race will have to do something about it.   

I will include snippets of the interview (most of it will be paraphrased) which I will include as italics as well as some of my own commentary. 

Food, Water, Energy Shortages 

The first and most obvious reason for food shortages right now are because of corn ethanol. Corn ethanol is stupid. It is a complete boondoggle. It solves no energy problem as it costs just as much energy to create compared to what you get in the end. It diverts crops which should be grown for food to fuel production. This is creating / contributing to the global food shortage. It is just dumb on so many levels. 

So that is one very large strain on world grain supply. But another that is large strain and one that is growing is the growing production and consumption of meat worldwide. Many have blogged about this in the past. FourthAxis has an awesome response on bellard's blog regarding increased consumption and the changing of eating habits a...... (see response 3). The bottom line is that much of the worlds population is now consuming more meat, and that meat requires a significant amount of grain. 

Consider that 4 lb grain is required for 1 lb chicken and 20 lb grain for 1 lb beef 

As soon as populations can afford to eat meat they do, this has always happened historically. Even countries that are supposedly philosophically inclined towards vegetarianism or partial vegetarian are now eating meat (some of China, India, Pacific coast of Asia, etc.). The author posits that these countries were not vegetarian at all, they were just too poor to afford meat for most of their history.  

Some estimates suggest that the amount of meat that will be consumed a few decades from now will double globally. This would mean that approximately 1 billion tons of grains over current production. Think about this in the US, is it even possible to double the amount of farmland? How much deforestation would need to take place to accomplish this? What climate change situations will be induced by that much more forest area being lost? 

And this does not apply to just grain. It applies to water as well. Consider that up to 1000 lb. of water is required to grow 1 lb of grain. And if a population starts eating more meat because they can afford it then a 4x-20x more water is required to grow the grain to feed the livestock than it would be to feed the population. 

1/6 of the populations of India and China are being fed with water that is being unsustainably drawn. This mean that’s that aquafirs are being drawn deeper and deeper every year at the current demand. 

Also keep in mind that agriculture is extremely energy intensive. It is intensive to grow. And since most of the grain is not grown near where it is consumed, it is very energy intensive to ship. Will we have enough oil and water to grow enough grain to create the meat to solve the world’s demand, if it grows at it current rate? What if the rate increases? 

All of this also plays into the peak oil argument. Again, there are so many blogs on Caps about Peak Oil. My favorite is this one by rudolphsteiner. So I will not talk about it here. But consider the demand of the US for oil, the growing demand from China and India, and then increased demand from the world to grow more grain. With no appreciable supply increase, demand for oil is likely to rise in my opinion. 

Where Does our Food Come From? 

Technological advancements in the 18th century allowed us to secure our food production future. This was absolutely a blessing as was required to secure humanities nutritional future. Nutritional health ever since the dawn of humanity was always precarious. Large scale famines in the US significantly were significantly reduced. This allowed us to focus efforts on increasing output for export and for raising livestock. As this becomes a source of wealth in the 19th and 20th centuries, ways to increase this “output” was found. For example, feeding antibiotics to cattle. This increased production by 25% (less cattle dying, “healthier” cattle), it was essentially “free” meat. Crowding of animals in pens, etc. 

It is unquestionable the industrialization of agriculture was a necessary step in the right direction. A couple of hundred years ago humanity “was always just one step ahead of starving”. Industrial agriculture for the sake of feeding the world is a good thing. And the author talks about how and why food subsidies came to be during the FDR era. There have always been market forces that guide farmers to plant certain crops. And when the demand changes the farmers can’t react fast enough. Farmers go out of business, then when their crops are needed in the future there is a shortage. So subsidies, when they were first implemented, were intended to intended to smooth out this volatility by paying farmers consistent prices and stockpiling grain when there was excess, and they did. 

However, the system is now unbalanced. By 1980, 40% of world’s corn came from the US and 25% of that com comes from one state – Iowa. This is the epitome of large scale commercial agriculture. These operations are hugely efficient, with the best farmers, best breeders. But before 1980, Iowa had a very varied agricultural based. Lots of corn, but also other grain crops, chickens, pigs, etc. They were regionally agriculturally self-sufficient. But as the demand for corn/other grains increased and they way to achieve the profits for that demand were efficiency and streamlining, Iowa began to focus on corn above all else. Regions began to specialize. But these regions needs lots of oil to grow and also to ship. What happens when these low cost crops are no longer in demand? Is this a good solution? Would it be better to keep the industrial advantages to farming and still have high yield crops for export but also have diversity in these growing regions for regional self-sufficiency? 

So there has been this trend to industrialize food production, some of it an unintentional consequence of farm subsidies. But there is also the trend of industrialization of food preparation. The author uses the story of Nestle as a great example of how food company’s “add value”. By adding value, companies make food easier to prepare, all the way from instant coffee to fully prepared frozen dinners. And because of the fact that food production is now streamlined, industrialized, and source from the lowest bidder, where is all the food coming from? What is its nutritional content? How has the processing affected the quality of the food? 

The outsourcing of cooking by food companies by adding value.  This started out as a huge a huge benefit, now it is questionable or even detrimental. In the 19th century a family spent 4 hours of food preparation per day. This was excessive and a huge burden. However today, many families spend about half an hour of food preparation per day. The pendulum has swung too far to the side of convenience.  

High food prices, like high energy prices, are getting people to sit up and take notice that they don’t know anything about how their food is made or where it comes from. 

Supermarkets follow the model: Low prices, low margins, high volume. From 1980s on the price pressures have been paramount in supermarket industry. This forced high efficiency on food manufactures. Food manufactures now find any way to increase efficiency: automation, illegal low-wage workers, and food sourcing. Food sourcing goes to the lowest cost bidder. What are the implications for the quality of this food? 

Food Safety 

Bacteria is able to exploit so much of the modern food system. Ecoli, salmonella are amazingly adaptive. Ecoli used just exist in the bovine gut, not really a problem. But it has adapted mostly because of the high corn diet that it is fed. Beef is moved rapidly to packing plants / slaugherhouses. This is a very fast-moving and complex system. All this beef from so many sources is combined and then sent out to fast food, supermarkets, spaghetti sauces, etc.  

This rapidly dispersed model of food production has some very high costs for problems. Consider the Topps ground beef recall. This was such a large recall because they couldn’t say where the problem originated. The beef that was mixed and was distributed got out of hand so quickly that 21 million pounds was recalled. This bankrupted the company in 2007. So the price of failure in this current model of food distribution, where food from so many low cost sources in combined, packed and distributed so quickly, is potential bankruptcy. This is a heavy price, and one that may be considered acceptable at the current rate of problems. But there are more frequent food safety issues, not less. And with more food being demanded over the world, this seems like an unsustainable model. 

Summary and Investment Ideas 

Okay, there was a lot of information above and jumped around a bit. But I think it is enough to illustrate this theme: The industrialization of food, which started out as a huge benefit in the 19th century, has become a liability. Most of us does not know where our food comes from, what went into making it, or how to prepare our own food. From a social viewpoint, the culture of meat consumption has vast implications for the future of food production, as well as many safety concerns in this era of “everyday low prices”. 

So I have some ideas for investments. Some are not “traditional investments” but will probably pay dividends that are more valuable Bank of America dividends (if they continue). I promise to not go on any diatribes.  

-1. Plant a Garden
This is the single most important step in taking care of your food destiny. Everybody should grow at least some of their own food. Even if you live in an apartment building in the middle of the city, you can have a small container garden. Gardens give you self-sufficiency, adds to your well-being (it feels good to get your hands dirty), adds to your health, helps the planet (less food that has to be shipped from elsewhere, less oil). Abitarecatania has an awesome post on urban gardening here: 

-2.  Watch Food Network / Learn how to cook.
I understand most people don’t know how to cook. It can be daunting. Most people also don’t think they have the time. But even if you start out by not cooking every meal yourself, you will benefit from cooking at least some of your own meals. You will be healthier (you can buy better ingredients than what go into packaged food), you will be happier (cooking for yourself add to your self-sufficiency which is always a good thing :) ). And there are so many great resources on TV and the web for find easy and simple recipes. Grow your own tomatoes from your garden and cook a batch of Pasta Puttanesca! 

-3. Locally grown food / Organic Food
Locally grown food is better because the food is local and does not have to be shipped from far away (less oil). Local farmers are going to grow smaller quantities and will probably be growing sustainably in the first place. But organic farmers definitely will. The food will taste better, be healthier for you, and be better for the environment. Join a food co-op. Visit your local farmers markets. 

-4. Eat less meat
I realize this one is a tough sell. Let me first say that I am not a vegetarian. I just tend to eat meat very infrequently now. This is a choice that I made for many reasons. Having a more balanced diet is healthier. Lots of fruits and vegetables is good for you. Protein can be found from many sources besides meat (tofu/soy, eggs, nuts, beans, quinoa, whole grains, etc.). I also read so many articles about how animals are treated in the mainstream industrial agriculture machine, and this just my personal opinion, I really don’t like supporting that. And since organic grass-feed beef costs $30/lb, I tend not to eat it very often :) So I am not trying to lecture, please see that I am not coming from that angle, it just seems like our current system is so unsustainable in terms of food production that I want to find alternatives for myself and my family. And since the inefficiency of meat production with respect to grain requirements is part of that, I have made the choice to eat less of it. Again, this is a very personal choice, but I feel very good about it. 

-5. Oil
Oil will continue to be a good investment. There has been a lot of talk about inflation and deflation, and what that will mean for oil prices. My belief is that the trend is increasing oil prices for the next several years. The USD continues to decline and has been declining for a variety of very obvious reasons over the past several years: money creation, liquidity pumping, US economy no longer production based, Fed is now backing loans to banks based on rapidly depreciating assets (housing), etc. And for many years before and even now the USD is still the world’s reserve currency. Oil is bought and sold in USD. Oil is the single biggest and most important commodity in the global economy. Even though the US is still by far the biggest consumer of oil, many other growing economies are competing for demand. China has still been propping up the dollar because they hold such a large inventory of dollars. They have also been increasing their demand for oil exponentially. China needs to grow as is using their glut of dollars to buy they world’s most important commodity. So what will happen to the price of oil in this scenario: The US prints money, Global demand continues to decrease, Global supply stays the same. Will oil price be deflationary or inflationary? Historically it is obviously inflationary. Just look at the price rise. But there have been predictions of demand destruction at $2 gas, $3 gas, $4 gas. I read a statistic (I don’t remember where) that the US demand at $4 gas is only 4% less than at the $2 level. That seems fairly inelastic to me. And so many other countries have a hoard of USD, probably very intelligently, saving that simply as an oil procurement fund. So if the US economy collapses (whether it be a severe recession or a depression), there will still be high demand for oil from these other economies for oil. The Fed will be printing even more money to make up for the credit collapse. And other countries will still have the USD-backed-oil-funds to buy more oil. The big assumption here is that even at this level supply-demand is relatively inelastic. This really does look to be the case. All of the contracts have to be filled at the end of the month, and the price keeps rising at this demand level. Unless there is a major decrease in global demand (seems unlikely to me) I find it a hard argument to accept that the price of oil goes down. 

-6. Food
Right now with all the food shortages in Africa and Asia due to the food imbalance created by corn ethanol, the demand for food and the high price increases observed the past 2 years I believe will still continue. There are several ETFs that invest in Agriculture futures: DBA, MOO, COW, etc. but the one that I think is best-diversified is RJA. 

-7. Water
Besides the reasons cited in this post, there are so many blogs that talk about water. Fresh water is the most important resource in the world, and its importance will be growing. Water stocks and ETF that play on this: PHO, FIW, VE, SBS, LAYN, MWA-B, ERII, etc. 

Please feel free to comment!  


Interview took place on Bob Edwards Weekend – July 6
Here is the link to the interview archive - the interview starts at 20:45
Bob Edwards Radio site for July -
Paul Roberts site for The End of Food - 

26 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 13, 2008 at 11:05 PM, abitare (29.76) wrote:

FYI  - Google: Video on Urban Farming: a Tenth of an Acre


12 Ways To Prepare For The Next Great Depression 

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#2) On July 13, 2008 at 11:12 PM, LordZ wrote:

Holy crap you wrote a lot, but what did you really say ???

There are many alternatives in regards to food.

Ironically a person could starve amongst an entire bounty of life sustaining nutrients.

Theres hi tech out there growing proteins and meats, cloning of tissues, imagine if you could clone that best cut, best tasting piece of meat, and imagine if you could do it on the cheap.

There is also technology out their using oxygen that could rid any chance of salmonella, its a joke now a days that people are getting sick from salmonella poisoning on vegetables ?

vegetables ? wtf ?


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#3) On July 14, 2008 at 2:48 AM, ajm101 (< 20) wrote:

Lordz, I count the days until the Motley Fool engineers implement comment blocking. 

Thanks, binve, for the thoughts.  I like BG as a food investment, myself.  STKL on the organic and cellulosic ethanol side, too.

I don't eat much meat either, but I still think PPC and SAFM might do well if eating habits shift because of the economics of raising chicken vs pork or beef.

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#4) On July 14, 2008 at 6:37 AM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:


Thanks! Yes, that was the same video that I was thinking of in your original post that I linked to in idea 1 (plant a garden).


:) Yeah, I know it was a bit of a ramble. That was the way the interview went also, he covered so many topics because the food shortage problem isn't just one problem. It isn't just water shortages that are the ultimate issue. It is water shortages, oil shortages, bad government policies, food safety, homogenization of food sources, lack of diversity, etc.

Yeah, I have no doubt that some day there will be cloned beef / meat. But is that a good thing? If a lot of the population is eating genetically the same piece of meat, what ramifications are there?

E coli never used to be a problem in cows, but when cows were fed corn on a large scale in the 1980s due to excess corn from subsidies, the problem with E coli outbreaks began. Cows can’t digest corn properly and the pH balance in the stomach was thrown off and allowed E coli to thrive. So all of the high yield corn (basically one crop) was fed to an animal in a low cost way and caused all kinds of problems.

Obviously I am not trying to draw a one-to-one parallel with cloned meat. Other than to illustrate the law of unintended consequences. What unintended consequences will present themselves if much of the world’s population is eating genetically the same piece of meat? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it is worth thinking about.

I guess three of the themes to take away from my post are: eating a diversity of food is a good thing, eating in a local and sustainable way is a good thing and that eating less meat is a good thing. Every one of these themes has benefits for your personal health, for your personal well-being, and good for the sustainability of our planet.

Again, not a lecture. It is not coming from there at all. Just food for thought :) Thanks for the comments!


Thanks for the response! Yeah, those are really good ideas. I have been eyeing SunOpta for awhile myself, I just can’t make up my mind if I believe they know what they are doing :) But I like their organic line and I like their cellulosic ethanol line too. I think I will look a little more closely based on that. Thanks!

And those are interesting calls on PPC and SAFM. As I recall TMFDeej was thinking about chicken farming and that they have not taken the price cuts yet that pork/beef producers have to reflect higher grain prices. Bother PPC and SAFM have taken about 20% haircuts recently. Do you like the level they are at now, do you think some of this grain price increases are now priced in? I certainly can’t deny your logic, if chicken consumes 5x less grain than beef for the same yield of meat, and grain prices go up, chicken producers will more than likely outperform beef producers over the long haul.

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#5) On July 14, 2008 at 11:52 AM, GreenMycon (< 20) wrote:

Fabulous blog entry!   You touched on a lot of major concerns and I think did a great job with that..  Well done!

As for me,  I also try to be mostly vegetarian and regularly state it as being for environmental reasons -- pretty much many of the ones you've stated above.

I definitely agree with your overall thesis and was glad to see that quality Futurama quote thrown in there which did seem to parallel fabulously to the current situation at hand.

Thanks for making the blog community here great -- with posts like these I can stand to put up with LordZ frequent incoherence.

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#6) On July 14, 2008 at 2:23 PM, madcowmonkey (< 20) wrote:

I recd earlier again, but I am looking to comment on a couple of fun topics you have put up.

number 4: eating less meat. I don't actually think I can do this:) I am not a vegetarian either, but at a party I had recently we supplied some veggie burgers. Holy maneur were they bad. I would rather starve than to act like I was eating a hamburger, seriously. 

numbers 6 & 7: food and water. I love how you go from food and water being an issue to immediately looking for something to invest in:)  

number 5: oil and $. The inelasticity that you mention isn't really there. People are putting the higher price of gas and goods on their credit cards, so it is ultimately a false waistline that we are talking about. I can relate it to how I feel about myself through out the day. When I wake up, I look and feel like I lost about 10 pounds. Then I eat lunch and I don't feel so good. After dinner I am back to looking like the fatarse that I am:) So essentially, the oil seems alright now, but give it a little bit longer. Everything just needs a little time to work through the system. Just like the regional banks.

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#7) On July 14, 2008 at 3:21 PM, Tastylunch (28.72) wrote:

In essence you are telling Americans to "eat healthier and smarter.... fattie". :-)

 Great Blog Binv, it's nice to have a basic issue summarized like this.

I think you may see a dramatic shift in the nature of food production soon. However I don't think you'll see food industrialization go away at least not in wheat and other veggies, rather change and become more diversified on a local level.

Meat man I dunno, something is going to have to change...

I read a study somewhere (in Nature I think?) that a modern human'sbody (gastro and metabolism) is optimized to eat large quantities of meat only once a week or so.  But that we are also somewhat inclined to crave it (as cro-magnon, homo erectus man etc was rewarded by better nutrition by said craving which helped  him overcome the fear of the risk to his life.).

I personally don't eat much meat and when I do it's usually poultry or fish. But I only do so out of purely taste reasons, I imagine getting people to quit or cutback on meat is going to be very very tough to accomplish due to the natural craving one develops once you acquire a taste for it...Not only that look how it's fundamental to and glorified in our culture (Football tailgating, steakhouses considered the most upscale fine dining etc. )

It will have to get v v expensive I think Americans to cut back enmasse. 

Maybe President Bush was right, maybe Indians and the Chinese should go back to being poor so we can have our Quarter Pounders with Cheese free of concern. ;-)


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#8) On July 14, 2008 at 4:26 PM, GreenMycon (< 20) wrote:

MadCow:  When you go with Veggie burgers you need to go with "The Original" gardenburger, albeit for some reason my local groccery store seems to have a shortage as does Red Robin.  The Gardenburger doesn't try to be a meat substitute.. so it doesn't taste like it's pretending to be meat.  As such, it's simply delicious.  Even those that eat meat frequently prefer getting a garden burger patty to a traditional meat patty.  Try this recipe (stolen from the gardenburger site and modified a bit):


1 - hamburger bun (heated/grilled)
1 - Gardenburger Naked Riblet,cooked to 160
1 Slice Jack Cheese (melted)1 teaspoon – BBQ sauce
1 each – sliced lettuce, tomato, red onion
Finely sliced, battered, and deep fried onion rings

 Trust me, it's delicious.


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#9) On July 14, 2008 at 5:17 PM, madcowmonkey (< 20) wrote:

GreenMycon- I haven't tried a garden burger yet, but I will give it a try. I choked down the one I had, because I was serving to guests and eating in front of them. I should have handed it off to the dog, but I really would have felt ashamed if she didn't eat it:) I like the finishing touch on your garden burger!

Not that this is a veggie burger, but I really like portobello mushrooms. Marinade in teriyaki sauce (homemade) and some rice and you have a veggie dish. A good salad and some salsa always spices it up too. There is a cherry salsa that I just had from Chanteau Chantel that is way too good to be true, plus they have some good wine to boot that I would suggest for N. Michiganders.

binv- I really like your number 3. Local farmers are the best.

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#10) On July 14, 2008 at 8:48 PM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:


Wow, thanks! Man, that is such a nice compliment. I really do appreciate that!

Yep, we have made the choice many years ago to start eating less meat. We went cold-turkey vegetarian (huge mistake) but really stepped back and took a more sensible and (for our personal lives) happier view about it. We weaned ourselves off it very gradually. Whenever we do have meat anymore it is almost always fish/seafood. And it is hard to resist a roast chicken once in a great while. But we go for weeks / months without eating meat and we don’t miss it. We have come up with great recipes that give us lots of flavor and protein and we don’t try to replicate the taste of meat. For example I used to make this awesome meat spaghetti sauce and we tried to replicate it with those soy veggie crumbles. Yuk, you feel like you are eating ground up rubber tires the way it squeaks on your teeth. So instead we rethought our pasta and ended up going more traditionally Mediterranean (Zucchini and Summer Squash, or Puttanesca, or different pestos, etc.). You can add protein to side dishes instead. It just takes a little rethinking, right? I would love to hear about your low-meat food strategies!

I love your gardenburger recipe below. I like gardenburgers for the very reason you state, they are not pretending to be hamburgers. Another invention my wife came up with is a falafel-esque burger. She makes a falafel mixture but makes it a bit drier so that it stays a bit denser / meatier. Then she toasts some buns and makes some traditional toppings (tsatsiki, cucumbers, tomatoes) etc. So it is like a cross between a falafel-pita sandwich and a gardenburger. So good!!

And just because I can’t resist it, here is another Futurama quote tied into eating meat (the popplers episode).

    Fry: Hey, business is great!
    Bender: Ehh, great is okay, but amazing would be great.

… :). Man I love Futurama! I am so glad to see another fan on Caps (besides the Hypnotoad, he is just insane). I am sure you love all the random math humor too, soooo geeky :)


Dude, thanks man! Yeah, that was my complaint when I first tried to cut down on meat, was to go full bore vegetarian, and that was a mistake. Some veggie burgers suck. Gardenburger is awesome. But it is really so hit and miss. So we found it a lot better to go back to our regular habits and then start eating less meat gradually. It took about a year but the key is to do it very slowly and to find ways to add back healthy flavor (lots of herbs and spices, interesting sauces, etc.)

Yeah :) By the end of the post I was tired of typing so I just tried to close it out :) Here’s food, here’s some stocks, here’s water, here’s some stocks :)

Regarding oil: Yeah, I think you are probably right on the inelasticity side, at least with American consumers in the way you are describing. I think you are calling the behavior accurately. But I really doubt that will make a big difference in the medium to long term. Oil is probably due for a correction. I would suspect it would be something like the most recent gold correction, something on the order of 15% or $120-125 oil. If I can make a (probably fairly worthless) prediction. I bet the correction will last as long as this gold correction, 3 maybe 4 months. Because global demand is really not dropping. Have you been researching how much demand is increasing in China, even now? I really believe that any demand destruction in the US will be picked up relatively short order by the rest of the world. I see a relatively short term oil correction and it will pick up and continue higher, just like gold. The dollar is going down, there is nothing stopping it for awhile. That plus demand from the rest of the world will push oil higher. I am not happy about that fact, but I believe that is what is going to happen. The only good outcome (like we have all talked about and agreed upon before) is that high oil prices will finally force some change, and very hopefully it will be toward a brighter and cleaner alternative energy future.

Man, won't that be something. When we have plug-in hybirds and biodiesel at every station, Oil will be 500/bbl and we won't care! That is going to be awesome! And it's just around the corner (relatively speaking) :)


Yep, get off the couch fattie :) We all talk about so many of the same issues because all of them are good discussions. I like that all of us agree on these issues and bring slightly different viewpoints from our various backgrounds.

Thanks man! I really appreciate the feedback. Yeah I definitely agree, food industrialization is here to stay. And some of it is good, but a lot of it is not good. At least over the past few decades it has turned into something not good. But I am so happy about the fact that many people are conscious about eating locally. This ultimately has to be a grass-roots effort. It will not come from the top down, because all the companies at the top (Nestle, Smithfield, Del Monte, Perdue, Yum, etc.) have a vested interest in the status quo. Increased obesity, diabetes, … hmm too bad. Oh, we can increase margins by 0.01% by feeding cows not only corn but also ground up cow brains? Sounds great!... sorry, that was a little unnecessary.

Yeah, I think so many of these corporations are morally ambiguous in how they treat and what they feed livestock. Perhaps not intentionally, but maybe because they are allowed to be. It really doesn’t matter. As a consumer, I am sending as strong a message as I can, voting with my pocketbook.

Again, I really don’t want to come off as sounding preachy. I have my own thoughts on these matters. And that is fine for me, it is what works for me. I just want to share them with you guys, if that is okay :)

That is a really interesting about the Nature article. I had not heard that before, but that sounds about right. Every once and awhile I get a meat craving. And when I do I eat meat. I mean we are omnivores after all. I think occasional consumption is actually a good thing for your body. It makes sense that when you are healthy and you have a craving, it is your body telling you it needs something.

Yeah, I think how meat, and beef in particular, has been glorified in the US is very unhealthy. Not only for our bodies, but also for the planet. It is a behavior that is going to be very hard to change. Just like with gas prices. Cheap oil (and cheap gas) worked its way into the American psyche, making it seem like it was always going to be that way. I mean a Hummer, as a passenger car??? You have to be kidding me. And it (very very unfortunately) takes a huge run up in gas prices for people to take notice and change their ways. And again, very very unfortunately, it will take a huge run up in food prices for people to change their ways about that too.

Maybe President Bush was right, maybe Indians and the Chinese should go back to being poor so we can have our Quarter Pounders with Cheese free of concern. ;-)

Best quote on this blog (beside Futurama of course :) )

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#11) On July 14, 2008 at 9:24 PM, GreenMycon (< 20) wrote:

Binv:  As far as sharing recipes go, I find that one of the easiest ways to make a good vegetarian dish is to find something amazingly tasty sounding in the New York Times Cook Book, and substitute in some typical Vegetarian staples  (this doesn't work for meat cutlets, but dishes with meat in them usually are pretty easy to modify).

A while back I found a luscious recipe for some stuffed eggplant, calling for meat, of course, and I thought to myself, "How can I modify this?"  So I went ahead and purchased some quality mushrooms and zucchini, and made a fabulous meal out of it.

 Basically any meat-esque dish can be modified by substituting in Mushrooms, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, and Eggplant.  Seriously.

My one real regret about not eating meat is the quality of sandwiches one can make.  I must say I make the most amazing roast beef sandwiches, and it's been quite hard to make a satisfactory vegetarian substitute.  I've found that if you are going for a true sandwich (not a wrap or fallaffel type thing), then you really do have to stick with Avacado as a base.

Other good vegetarian options are mexican-styled meals (wicked cheap too), and asian cuisine (noodles and rice, mostly).

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#12) On July 15, 2008 at 2:48 AM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:

My best vegetarian-esque dishes, courtesy of Racheal Ray.

Pasta Puttanesca (very good)

Asparagus pizza (a lot better than it sounds)

Tomato, Basil Pasta Bake (though I like it better when I add sausage to the sauce)

I have also cut down on the meat in some dishes without eliminating it and find that works well.  For instance, when I make beef stew, I put in 2 - 3 times each more potatoes, carrots and onions than I do stew meat.  (My favorite is the carrots anyway, followed by the potatoes, so the reduced meat is not that big of a deal.  By using beef stock, you still get a lot of beef flavor without using a lot of beef.)  

Also, I have heard of people using marinated and grilled portobello mushroom caps as the hamburger patty.  Haven't tried it, so I don't know how it works.  I have also heard of people using grilled portobello mushroom caps as the replacement for a hamburger bun for those on a low-carbohydrate diet.  

For a good fish course, check out Alton Brown's Fish Roulade dish, (salmon, halibut and scallops rolled up roulade style).  Very good.

Good luck and happy eating.


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#13) On July 15, 2008 at 5:46 AM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:


Oh yeah, that is the best vegetarian mixture, isn’t it: Mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant. Man you get so much depth of flavor from that.

Another great route is Indian food in general too. That is, of course, under the supposition that you like Indian food :) I personally love it and could eat it all day. My wife is not crazy about some of the spice combinations. So during the winter I make a vegetable pot pie instead of a chicken pot pie. But I put an Indian twist on it, so there is curry and a lot of earthy spices. So it is more an Indian and American hybrid. With enough potatoes and peas and veggies and a really flavorful gravy you just don’t miss the chicken.

And yes, I agree 100% Mexican food is the secret weapon! Black beans, avocados, tons and tons of cilantro. You add those things and a generous handful of jalapenos you will have so much flavor and it will be so filling you won’t even be thinking about meat!

Right on man!


Nice. I agree Pasta Puttanesca and variations tends to be our pasta standby now. But I have to say that Asparagus Pizza sounds very intriguing!

We have come up with such great side dishes too, that for dinner sometimes we just combine sides :) For example, sometimes we do a combination of sauteed leeks, asparagus and edamame with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes. The only trick is to get the leeks to just start caramelizing before you add the rest. Then we pair that with polenta that has lots of parmesan and black pepper. There is so much flavor and it is surprisingly filling!

Oh yeah, the gilled portabello cap is an excellent call. Seriously, If you marinate it like a steak you will get so much flavor. I have never had anyone say “wow, that tastes like steak”, but it will get very smoky and since it is so thick it will have a “meaty” texture. People usually just say “d@mn good” :)

Man this is so great! This is really an awesome response! Thanks for sharing all of these food ideas. Perhaps we should start a Caps Cookbook … :)

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#14) On July 15, 2008 at 8:48 AM, madcowmonkey (< 20) wrote:

Here is the link to the winery that I mentioned with the great tasting cherry salsa. If you live in California or Colorado, they can ship you their great tasting whine too. I would suggest the naked red.

Chateau Chantal* 

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#15) On July 15, 2008 at 12:41 PM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:

Asparagus Pizza

1 loaf Foccacia bread, favorite kind (I like the garlic basil or Italian seasoning ones if you can get them)

Pesto sauce, about 8 oz., depending on the size of the bread

Smoked Gouda or Fontina Cheese

Asparagus, about 1/2 bunch


Spread the pesto sauce on the foccacia bread.  Steam the asparagus until tender and then put on top of the pesto sauce.  I like forming it into a wagon wheel formation or just making a medium dice and spread it around.  Cube the cheese and spread around.  Dice the tomatoes and spread them around.  Put the whole thing in your oven on broil, 6" or so from the heat, and cook until the cheese is melting and the bread is crisped.  Allow to cool slightly, (melted cheese is culinary napalm, so be careful!!), and then slice.  Makes a really great appetizer or main course. 

You can also spread some Italian seasoning on the pesto sauce before adding the rest of the stuff for more flavor, but I find that using the seasoned foccacia makes it unnecessary. 

Recipe from Rachael Ray.

or try

I get a lot of good recipes from Rachael Ray, (30 Minute Meals, perfect for those of us that don't love cooking), that I print off of the Food Network website, (  You can get Alton Brown's recipes there too.

For a side dish, there is a pasta salad that I really like.  To make it I cook a pound of pasta, (I like the curly ones best, but the small shells work too, something that can hold onto sauce).  I dice or shred up a bunch of veggies, (onions, celery, couple different colors of bell peppers, usually the red and orange ones, carrots, maybe some radishes, some zucchini and whatever else suits my fancy that day).  I mix them in with the pasta with a bunch of parmesan cheeze.  I then make a dressing that is 1 part pesto sauce, 1/3 part lemon juice, salt, pepper and a big heaping of garlic.  Shake that in a jar to combine and pour over the salad.  I have made meals out of this, and it keeps well in the fridge, (which is good since this makes a LOT of pasta salad, so it usually takes me a few days to eat it all).  

I agree that Indian food is really good.  I like the samosas and the potatoes and peas curry.  However, my favorite dish is chicken mahkni (sp?), which is chicken is a spicy red sauce.  That, some rice and some of the flat bread, (can't think of its name right now), and I am a very happy camper. 

If you want to start a blog post on recipes, I will contribute some that I got from the Food Network along with their links so that the Food Network gets proper credit, (plus people can go there to print out the recipes if they want).

Good luck to you and happy and healthy eating.


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#16) On July 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:


I took inspiration from Madcow and asked the Motley Fool to start a new board to use to share recipies.  I am trying to get the board named Recipe Roundup.  They said it would take two days to process, assuming they approve it.  We'll have to wait and see.  Who knows, maybe if I can get the board up and running I might even get added to your favorites.  ;-)  If the board is approved, I can add a few of my favorite recipes to it and see if it becomes popular.

Hope you enjoy the above recipes.  Take care and have a nice day.


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#17) On July 15, 2008 at 4:49 PM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:


What a great idea! Yep, I think madcow is going to start a new discussion board revolution :). Thanks for all the recipes, yeah Food Network is the best. And Good Eats is still my favorite show. But Everyday Italian is a very close second :)

Absolutely I will add you as a favorite!! Shame on me, I thought I already did. Sorry about that, I have referenced your blogs several times. Thanks a lot!

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#18) On July 16, 2008 at 1:39 PM, madcowmonkey (< 20) wrote:

Recipe Roundup, I like it. I am always looking for good recipes and tasty food. They have an AA board, so I don't see why the recipe board wouldn't fly:) I will have to pull out my favorite chicken dish. A little spicy, but extra tasty.

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#19) On July 16, 2008 at 1:58 PM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:

I don't think my Recipe Roundup board is going to get authorized.  I got an email from an MF employee stating that they already had a board for recipes that is very active.  The link would be

I've read a few weeks worth of postings and haven't seen too many recipies, so I might rerequest my board just to see if it will go through.  If not, you can always send me your recipies in an email, I can colate them into a Word file and then send out the file to those interested, sending out new updates occasionally as enough new material gets added to make a new transmission worthwhile.

And Madcow, go ahead and send me your recipe, I love spicy.  I have a very high spice tolerance.

Binv, I love Good Eats too.  One of my favorites for watching.  However, I can only think of one recipe that I got off of Good Eats that I have made, and that is his Beef Jerky recipe.  It is very good, (though I up the heat quotient in the spice preparation as I like spicy jerky).  I get most of my recipes from 30-Minute Meals though.  I have seen a few episodes of Everyday Italian, but don't watch much TV, so by the time I see Good Eats and 30-Minute Meals, I have usually filled my quota of TV for the day.  I do really like the Iron Chef and Iron Chef America shows, so I got my Tivo set to record them.  I usually watch them on the weekend.  If you haven't seen the Japanese original Iron Chef, you should check it out sometime.  You won't get any good recipes from them probably, (they have an almost unlimited budget for meals and often use a lot of expensive items, (caviar, fois gras, truffles, etc.)), but some of the antics on that show are pretty funny. 

If my board request doesn't go through I can also just start a blog post on my blog containing recipes and we can just post them there.  A little more difficult for referencing than a message board, but it is doable.

Take care and have a nice day.


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#20) On July 17, 2008 at 7:03 AM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:

madcow, "The spice must flow!". ... actually that was a pretty lame one. Yes, spicy is defintely the way to go. I love spicy and I love hot sauce. Acutally I made hot sauces for my family and friends one year. Actually did that canning / sterilization, etc so that I could let it age for awhile. Man they were good!. I did a "green sauce": poblano, green bell, and crap loads of jalapenos. Decent spice but well-balanced. I did a "hot/sweet" sauce that had mango and habenero. Very interesting. But then I did very hot hot sauce with lots of cayanne, thai red hots, and more that I can't rememeber. That one "hurt you so good" :)

craig, No worries on the recipe board. I think a recipe blog would be just as good. And yes Iron Chef is the best (the original) Sakai, Morimoto, and Kenichi! I love how over the top dramatic it gets sometimes. Very entertaining. :) Thanks man!

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#21) On July 17, 2008 at 8:13 AM, madcowmonkey (< 20) wrote:

Craig- I can't believe that. I thought for sure they would add it. Well here is a recipe that you can put up from madcow:

Rice and baked chicken 

1 cup long grain rice

1 14.5 oz can diced tom undrained

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup flat-leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

1 medium yellow onion

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

4 boneless chicken breasts

direction: Heat oven to 400 degrees, combine all ingredients but the chicken, place everything in a 9 by 13 with the chicken on top, cover tightly with foil, and bake for approximately 35 minutes.

Now this chicken recipe isn't going to be spicy spicy obviously, but it has some decent taste with a hint of spice. I really like the onions.

shade hog beans for cookouts:

1 lb bacon chopped

1 large onion

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup bbq sauce

4 tbs mustard

4 tbs molasses

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 16 oz cans kidney beans

2 16 oz cans butter beans

2 16 oz cans pork and beans

Directions: mix together and bake 1.5 hours @ 350 uncovered.

**Brown bacon & onion, drain greese**


binv- my wife hates that movie. I think I tried watching some of it on New Years day one time (hangover) and she just couldn't stop yelling at me about it. I just came back with a "spice is nice.........spice is nice......" I use to be intrigued by that movie when I was a kid, no sure why. I remember making a big tub of hot sauce one time. It came out pretty hot, or at least hotter than what my family was use to at the mexican restaurants in AZ. Last time I did that.

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#22) On July 19, 2008 at 4:14 PM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:


You might want to go on the website and check out Rachael Ray's "Chickpeas, Thank You" episode.  It is a vegetarian meal, pasta and sauce plus a salad.  The recipes look interesting.  I might have to try them myself sometime, (though I might use chicken stock or beef stock instead of vegetable stock in the sauce, as I think that would add extra flavor, and I don't care if the meal isn't pure vegetarian).  Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads-up on something new you might want to try.


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#23) On July 19, 2008 at 5:15 PM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:


You might want to go on the website and check out Rachael Ray's "Chickpeas, Thank You" episode.  It is a vegetarian meal, pasta and sauce plus a salad.  The recipes look interesting.  I might have to try them myself sometime, (though I might use chicken stock or beef stock instead of vegetable stock in the sauce, as I think that would add extra flavor, and I don't care if the meal isn't pure vegetarian).  Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads-up on something new you might want to try.


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#24) On July 20, 2008 at 10:48 PM, rudolphsteiner (< 20) wrote:

I love that this blog post turned into a recipe exchange.

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#25) On July 21, 2008 at 3:56 AM, StockSpreadsheet (65.79) wrote:

So rudolph, do you have a recipe to contribute to this discussion?  All foods are welcome.  New recipes can be exciting and offer new flavors to experience.

Bon apitit.


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#26) On July 21, 2008 at 7:08 AM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:

Craig, Thanks! I will check that out!

rudolph, Yeah that was a nice turn :)

Craig started a blog at Favorite Recipes. I think this will become the new "unofficial" caps recipe exchange :) Thanks Craig!

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