UVM Extension Ag Engineering

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Food System Energy Use

Thanks to Eric Garza (UVM RSENR) for putting me onto this dense and fascinating report that summarizes the energy use in our food system. I was surprised to learn the per capita energy use in our food system increased significantly from 1997 to 2002.

From the report;

“Energy is an important input in growing, processing, packaging, distributing, storing, preparing, serving, and disposing of food. Analysis using the two most recent U.S. benchmark input-output accounts and a national energy data system shows that in the United States, use of energy along the food chain for food purchases by or for U.S. households increased between 1997 and 2002 at more than six times the rate of increase in total domestic energy use.


The use of more energy-intensive technologies throughout the U.S. food system accounted for half of this increase, with the remainder attributed to population growth and higher real (inflation-adjusted) per capita food expenditures.”

The Start of Something New

As you may know, UVM Extension has initiated an Agricultural Engineering program and I am so pleased to have been selected to lead it. My job is to conduct research, technology development & transfer, applied engineering, education and outreach to support the development and enhancement of Vermont’s small-scale food and agricultural systems.

I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to support Vermont’s food systems and to continue working with farmers and other agricultural professionals throughout the state and beyond.

Some of the specific areas I expect to focus on initially include greenhouse energy efficiency, renewable fuels, post-harvest fruit and vegetable processing, enhanced refrigeration, and application of control technologies to food production. But I am very interested in hearing what technical challenges you think are most critical to you. If you have a moment, please send me your thoughts on where you think the most significant technical challenges are in your operation. My complete contact information is provided on the left hand side of this site.

The right hand side of the site includes links to some of my favorite references and calculators which may be useful for you as well. If you run into problems with any of them or have additional questions, let me know. Or if you have ideas for references or links that I should include, let me know that as well.

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