Although electricity is generally both available and reliable in our own community, the concept behind the Solar Ice project can still be used to promote Real Foods at home.
A typical Californian’s grocery basket is sourced from a variety of places, not all of which within California’s boundaries. In reaction to this, California’s liberal environmentalism has allowed for the “Eat Local” and “Eat Responsibly” movements to slowly gain steam. Yet, in supermarkets and grocery stores throughout California and our region, we can see the prevalence of the “grow local, ship elsewhere” philosophy practiced and distributed by the Central Valley. We want to bring “Eat Local” into ALL food culture (not just fad restaurants and grocery stores).
Energy Use of the Food Sector.
In 2001, cooking accounted for 6.5 percent of a household’s electricity usage, but 14 percent went to refrigeration and 3.4 percent to freezing. In total, about 26 percent of a typical household’s electricity was going to the preparation and storage and disposal of food. Here is one dimension in which we can see the energy demand we dedicate to household food consumption.
Examining the transportation sector of common food production techniques, we know that 220 trillion British thermal units (Btu) go into the energy change of getting imported food products from point A to point B. Moreover, the carbon costs of this energy use is the equivalent of nearly 38 million barrels of oil, or enough power to power almost 10 million households in California for a year. This is a startling statistic considering that this is just looking at the TRANSPORTATION portion of getting food from farm to table.
A more sustainable model of food production and consumption asks for individuals and communities to seek food that is grown locally. When food is grown locally, it requires less transportation, refrigeration and processing before it’s eaten. Real, local food requires fewer resources.
How does Solar Ice help Real Food?
While the technical aspects of storing energy in the form of ice are not as important in a community with a constant electricity supply, the solar ice and aquaponics facility can be used as a tool for communities to grow and store their own food.
We’ve been exploring the possible use of this technology in restaurants.
Typically, a restaurant spends about $2.90 per square foot on electricity and $.85 on natural gas to run the operation, annually. This is not much. It adds up to about 3-5 percent of a restaurant’s budget. However, another big expenditure for restaurants is groceries. An aquaponic/solar ice facility on a restaurant property wouldn’t just purport the eat local lifestyle, they would live it every day. Chefs and cooks would be able to tailor their menus to their garden or vise versa.
Case Study – Urban Restaurant, New York
Riverpark Restaurant grows its own produce in a plaza right outside the front doors. They are able to grow 11 different types of basil AND compost nearly everything onsite. Similar applications of the solar ice + aquaponics facility could cut electricity costs, and provide both produce and fish for a restaurant.