Wednesday, 28 October 2009

the great turning

Like a hunter tracking its prey, I’m always on the look out for signs of the Great Turning. Sometimes you find the tracks in the oddest places. Last week I got a flyer in my door from Milk and More. My milko, now celebrating 150 years, has, over the last couple of years, evolved from a beast at the edge of extinction, under threat from the great supermarket giants, to a multitasking, all-song-and dancing delivery scheme. He now offers me not only our usual organic cows and goats milk, but 150 ‘essential items’ including bread, yoghurt, cheese, veggies and baked beans. OK, these are big national/international brands delivered by a national chain, but that will change. And, surely a sign of the times, among the usual tacky Christmas offers, there’s an energy-saving ‘novelty’ draught excluder – in the form of a cat or a dog – for £2.99! But most brilliantly of all, I can order online, up till nine, the night before my 5am delivery. No more last-minute bread baking/neighbour cadging (which used to be supermarket dashes) for lunchbox materials. Milk and More has come to the rescue.

Why is this a sign of the Great Turning? A recent important report from the UK Energy Research Council, authored by Lewes resident Steve Sorrell, predicted that despite recent discoveries, peak oil would hit within the decade, with very little government preparation for a bumpy, chaotic, irreversible energy descent. In a future with less cheap oil, we are going to have to be more resilient, that is, flexible to unexpected changes and shocks. Mainly, that means, more interconnected, more local. Local means fresh, real, food, which means more local markets and, probably, more deliveries. Life will – if we make a planned, managed, rather than resisted, Turning - look a bit like Victorian times, in terms of food, though in other ways, very different. Problem is, much of our resilience/infrastructure has been destroyed in the meantime. But not the milkman. Long live the milkman.

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