NEWS FLASH: Gas and food prices rise sharply. What’s next?

First things first. Happy Birthday to my only daughter-in-law, Lisa Hicks, who is coming to Stonington for a visit today — with 4 out of 5 of my grandchildren. Click below for recent post on school lunches featuring Lisa and including her picture.

Childhood Obesity — A “4-Leaf” school-teacher sounds off


Now for the news of the day…

In a USA Today article by Martin Grutsinger (AP) on May 27, it was reported that gas and food price increases were thwarting our fragile, slowly-recovering economy. From the article:

WASHINGTON — Consumers spent more in April, but much of the increase was eaten up by higher food and energy prices. After discounting for the jump in prices, spending barely budged and after-tax incomes were flat for a second straight month. (See link to complete article below my signature.)

In the years ahead, these kinds of headlines are going become more and more common — and, in my opinion, the good news outweighs the bad news. Let me explain. Since beginning this blog in February 2011, I have gradually come to the conclusion that rising energy prices will turn out to be our friend — in the long term; although the transition will be quite painful for many as our world is forced to adjust to the “end of cheap oil.”

The "sunset" on the era of cheap oil on planet Earth. It's time to start living like we would if the price at the pump were already $10 a gallon or more.

You see, it was the discovery of cheap energy that enabled humans to adopt many incredibly inefficient, harmful and unsustainable practices — primarily how we have chosen  to eat and how we have chosen to live. As I said in an earlier post last week, it would be nice if we could somehow recognize the errors of our past and get busy correcting them — for many very good reasons. For example; here are my top five advantages associated with moving back to the natural diet for our species:

  1. Promoting our own health, reducing obesity and dramatically lowering the cost of health care.
  2. Nurturing the fragile harmony of our precious planet — our only home.
  3. Conserving energy.
  4. Feeding the world’s hungry.
  5. Ending the barbaric practice of slaughtering 60 billion animals a year for our dinner tables — having convinced ourselves that we truly “need” to eat them to be healthy. Not. See the Protein Page.

To put that 60 billion in perspective, that is the number required just to feed less than 20% of the world’s population — the wealthiest 20%. With the developing world following our “bad example,” more and more people are shifting to our wasteful, harmful and totally unsustainable way of eating. Where does this madness end? 300 billion animals? 500 billion animals? To feed just 7 billion people?

Sadly, I don’t think the human race is equipped (with enough leadership, convictions and resolve) to make the needed changes for the right reasons. I think that we will have to be forced to change. And that is why rising energy prices will turn out to be our friend in the long run. Those rising prices will force us to eat a healthier diet and consume far less energy in the way that we live.

Imagine for a minute, what would our world look like if only a modest amount of petroleum had been discovered? I would argue that the advantages would far outweigh the the disadvantages. On the positive side:

Moonglow (our Cape Dory Typhoon) tied up at the yacht club in Watch Hill, Rhode Island -- great fun with minimal fuel consumption

  • First, we wouldn’t know what we have been missing; things like indoor ski slopes in Dubai.
  • We would all still be eating a diet that is much closer to the natural diet for our species.
  • As a result of that, we would all be enjoying better health and a much lower cost of health care.
  • There would be no suburban sprawl; we would be living in more “Europe-like” villages, towns and cities — all connected by highly-efficient mass transit powered by renewable energy sources.
  • While long-distance travel would be much more expensive, our overall quality of life would be much better. How so?
  • Where would you rather spend your vacation? Houston or Paris?
  • Sure, we’ve enjoyed some luxuries that we might not have otherwise enjoyed; but what about our great-great-grandchildren? Will they be any better off because their great-great-grandparents enjoyed a brief period of living high and reckless destruction of our environment? I think not.

Bottom line. Our supply of fossil fuels are finite (everyone agrees on that), non-renewable and will be pretty much depleted within the next hundred years. So the sooner we learn how to live without them, the better off we will be.

Big Picture. Life began on this planet 4 billion years ago; humans arrived just 200,000 years ago. We settled down less than 20,000 years ago and have caused most of our damage in just the past fifty years. History will record the mere 150 years (a blink of history) from 1900 to 2050 as the “era of cheap oil” that did much more harm than good for all concerned. (Watch the HOME movie now; if you haven’t already.)

What to do NOW?. The top two things that you can do to use less energy while promoting your own health and enjoying a better quality of life is:

  • Make a dramatic shift in the direction of health-promoting, energy-friendly whole plant foods. Need some help? Do yourself a favor and start our 4-Leaf Program today.
  •  Establish your home in a dense community, walking distance to parks, schools, churches, playgrounds, shopping, restaurants, civic events and mass transit.

My little "castle" (with the flag) in the village of Stonington, CT. -- The Mercedes has been replaced by a Mini Cooper and my 900 square feet with private courtyard and wood-burning fireplace does a great job of meeting my needs. And I can walk to almost everything I need; like we say here, "The village is our living room." Happy Memorial Day!

I am already living in one of those towns, a charming village by the sea in coastal Connecticut. While my little town is a bit on the expensive side, there are two far more affordable towns less than 15 minutes from us in each direction — New London, CT (home of the USCG Academy) to our west and Westerly, RI, just a few miles to our east.

Both of these towns lost their urban vitality many years ago — now they’re both just waiting for higher fuel prices to make them look much more attractive. They both have rail service, easy access to I-95, and water access to Long Island Sound and beyond. These are my two local picks for “boom towns” of the future.

J. Morris Hicks, the "big picture guy" just trying to help everyone understand the long-term impact of our actions today -- including how we eat and how we live.

Amtrak also goes right through the middle of my little village of Stonington; the trains just don’t stop anymore. Maybe someday they will again. NOw, if any of this makes sense; you might want to think about moving your family to a place like the ones that I have described.

And don’t wait until the value of your energy-guzzling home in the boonies drops below what you owe on your mortgage. Sadly, that’s when most Americans will first get around to re-thinking their housing choices — amid the a not-so-pleasant era of chaos, during which everyone will once again blame the government for all their problems.

It’s a bit ironic that I chose this topic today — Memorial Day; a day featuring lots of energy wasted — from the gas-guzzling vehicles to the over-consumption of vast quantities of energy-guzzling meat and dairy products. And we do all of that to honor those who have fought and died for our freedom.

Maybe I will see the day when we honor this special day by doing something wonderful for our planet and our own future generations of Americans. If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

Gas and food eat most of the gain in April consumer spending –

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Energy. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to NEWS FLASH: Gas and food prices rise sharply. What’s next?

  1. Rick Swan says:

    Gas may drop backwards temporarily from time to time, but people complaining about $5 gas have no idea what’s coming. Soon they will look back and dream of $5 gas. The middle class will be gone within fifty years.

    Great advice for the middle class to move from the boonies and move to a small and centralized ‘home base’. Also a great idea to be close to where the food is grown…but I have to wonder when push comes to shove if it will be ‘taken’ for the powers to be, to feed the military and of course to the highest bidder. Perhaps the middle class will fade away in more than just social standing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s