|A couple of 25% Rye loaves made with 100% whole wheat in the Tartine method|
Several years ago I read about a dozen books on "peak oil" -- the claim that our oil-based economy was about to (or already had) run out of easily accessibly non-renewable resources. One of the most interesting ideas to remain with me from all that study was Richard Duncan's Olduvai Theory. Duncan said,
"The life expectancy of Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years: 1930-2030."
Duncan also quotes Fred Hoyle from 1964:
"With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only."
These are of course global prognostications of our ability to achieve and use intelligence, civilization, reason.
On a more personal scale, it would appear that for each of us there is a short and sobering window of peak intelligence.
In my work I deal with a lot of human frailty as people approach death. I see a lot of dementia. It would seem that we only have a short span of years in our human lifetime where our thoughts can be clear, rational, and infused with energy. Even a tiny electrolyte imbalance can make our thoughts unclear, our energy levels too low to recover rational thought.
We know that human civilization started with agriculture, and the domestication of grains. The baking of bread built civilization. But what if civilization is a short aberration? What if human reason is a failed evolutionary experiment?
I have indicated before that there were older grains than wheat in the human diet: before wheat, we used barley, rye, and possibly rice.
Wheat may be like oil, or like human intelligence: nice to have, but not sustainable.
Here is an ordinary rye bread, with wheat, what I recently called "ordinary faire". It is so good.
But maybe it will not last. Maybe one day I will look back at the memories of this loaf with awe about what we felt was ordinary.
Notes to Myself
- What will we remember about this time, this day, this bread?
- Just because Duncan's idea has stuck with me doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it. here I just called it interesting.