The likes of this would NEVER grace my reading list. So, when my colleague suggested it, I smiled and accepted a copy but hey, despite being a fun and dedicated co-worker, this is the guy who vacationed in Siberia. Perhaps our interests diverge.

Image found here

The JOE or Joint Operating Environment is a strategic planning document created by the United States Joint Forces Command. It’s 73 pages of something shy of an 8 point font and as heavy as a lethal dose of Ambien. Or so I thought. Somehow the JOE found it’s way into the reading stack that I reserve for long flights. I smirked, shoved it to the bottom of the pile but it inevitably resurfaced.

The JOE uses history as a method of gaining insight into the future. It discusses the tragic topic of war. One section of the report highlights trends and trouble while another section analyzes those trends into context and finally puts them together with the implications for the Joint Operating Forces. I’m almost scratching my own head at this point wondering why I’m writing about this. As one who is typically opposed to the use of force, I’m uncomfortable. Here’s the catch or at least the connection; food is identified as one of the major issues that might enhance or erode the power of a country and hence, world security. Does that come as a surprise? Not really but it is something that I don’t think about in those terms.

The two ways food requirements are influenced is by population and by prosperity that manifests in dietary preference changes. So a reduction in population will likely reduce demand for food while an increased consumption of animal products (due to greater prosperity) requires greater resources for the calories produced. Of interest, the JOE points out that opposition to genetically modified food is waning. Hmmm, this is not consistent with my anecdotal blog reading. Need more research here.

Clearly there are parts of the world that will suffer food shortages more than others. This occurs today. What fascinates me is that in a world with adequate global support, the local food shortages that do exist are typically problems with food distribution.

I doubt that I’ll ever read the JOE again. It’s not entertaining or uplifting but certainly is enlightening. I had no idea that it existed and can only imagine what early drafts may have been like before it was scrubbed for public consumption. Of particular value was reading the statement that in our future, influence will need to come without intimidation. I love the acknowledgement of the role of good and safe food. It is, in fact, a stabilizing force in the world.

Almost Veggie Joe
Serves 6
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages tempeh
  • 1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • hamburger buns

Heat oil in a deep, 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the onion in the oil until translucent. Crumble the tempeh into the skillet; cook and stir until golden brown. Add the green pepper and garlic; cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, molasses, cayenne pepper, celery seed, cumin, salt, coriander, thyme, oregano, paprika, and black pepper; stir. Simmer another 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon hot onto hamburger buns to serve.

Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies causing this dish to be named “almost veggie”. I think the dish would work equally well with a favorite grain like barley or wheat berries in place of the tempeh.

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  1. Dear Husband

     /  September 28, 2011

    And all this time I thought that “food insecure” was just a euphamism for welfare recipient…

  2. I think this almost veggie Joe is gonna be a hit in my home 🙂

  3. Great post. Food and water are both life necessities that in times of shortage can drive people to take desperate measures. This is particularly true if one group seems to have much and another group seems to have little. Influence without intimidation, working together towards a common goal, will be an important part of our future if we wish to be successful.

    A look at our current society shows that unfortunately class separation is becoming an increasing factor. Add to that the models provided by climatologists predicting that the Southwest’s water supply is severely threatened. On top of these, our now peaked finite supply of oil means that industrial agriculture will have an increasingly difficult time feeding our population. Together these factors don’t mean apocalypse, they simply mean that change is necessary. That change, when we accomplish it, should result in a beautiful, sustainable, organic, localized world. Check out books such as “The Transition Handbook” by Rob Hopkins, “Post Carbon Reader” by Heinberg & Lerch, and “Prosperity Without Growth – Economics For A Finite Planet” by Tim Jackson.

    The “Almost Veggie Joe” sounds good and could be given an easy step up by using Worcestershire sauce made without anchovies (available in many stores, usually labeled as vegetarian or vegan) and by using agave syrup instead of honey.

    • Wow, you’re a wealth of resource and I love that you paint it into a positive light of what can be. Thanks for the recipe amends also.

  4. I’ve been vegetarian for 13 years . . . and I’ve known about the trace amounts of anchovies in Worchestershire Sauce for the same amount of time.

    Just as I would not cease being a vegetarian if I accidentally swallowed a fly, I don’t worry about trace amounts of anchovies in the little bit of Worchestershire Sauce that makes it into my gullet!

    Thanks for the fun recipe.

    BTW: Did you hear about all the recent listeria deaths from cantaloupes? Gulp!

    • I did hear about them Nancy. I was in Colorado where it took place and my grandmother and I decided we weren’t going to eat them.

  5. Very interesting post Tammy.

    The fact that the Joe was written and published is a little unnerving…. your essay reinforces for me how we should all be reading the things we find our minds pushing away. The internet makes it so easy for us to surround ourselves only with those and that which supports our beliefs.

    Sad to think our own food issues are of our own (lack of) choosing…

    • I completely agree with you. The internet can be really polarizing. I notice that on facebook it suggests I be friends with people who vote like me. It’s important to listen to other views.

  6. Fascinating post, Tammy! It is interesting to think about how food an societal stability are so intertwined.

    As for the statement that “opposition to genetically modified food is waning,” that could mean worldwide. While people in the US, Japan and EU are increasingly concerned, it is possible that people in third world countries are convinced that it is the answer to food shortages. However, as you point out, the issue is often not one of volume, but rather distribution.

    Coincidentally, I am currently reading a translation of the Art of War. Even though it is an ancient text on the topic of war, it still has a lot of important insights that are applicable to here and now.

  7. I had no idea food was so central to the rise and fall of kingdoms: but I should have guessed. I am glad you picked JOE up because now I know about it too…thanks Tammy….

  8. natural resources – including food, and the ability to produce it – have been one of the major reasons wars have been fought through the ages.

    the other? religion…

    • Oh, yes. I knew about religion but sure learned a bit more about the volatility associated with food.

  9. Food behind the rise and fall of kingdoms. Well, being from a 3rd world country which got its independence only half a century ago, the concept is certainly familiar to me. In fact this has been a major reason behind some of the greatest wars of the world.

    I think I should pick up a copy if its available here.

    • I think there are many things that you should read instead.

      • Alright then! 🙂 Alice In Wonderland perhaps? I just picked up a copy and reading it now is giving me a whole new perspective. I like to read children’s stories from time to time. Very de-stressing.

  10. Fascinating stuff! It shows how everything is connected with each other and affects each other. I often think that, against the backdrop of other social or economic issues, the basic things like food get out of sight. But eating is among the fundamental needs of living beings, and a starving man would kill for food, so this definitely plays a role in world politics. We’re very blessed here to be able to *choose* what we eat!

  11. I find it amazing that anyone in the world today goes hungry. There is more than enough food and abundant ways to distribute it. This should be a basic need that can be met.

  12. This is one of the many cool things about you! You actually took this and read it! And found something beneficial in it, shared it and came up with an accompanying recipe! Thank you, Tammy! You challenge me to be more willing to listen and read material that might be beyond my usual scope.

  13. Tammy, I appreciate that you read and reported on JOE, so that we could benefit w/out reading it ourselves! and I’m not convinced either that the world is more open to GMOs.

    the Almost Vegetarian Joe recipe looks great

    (in our household, Bill is a vegetarian, but like Nancy Hatch, does not mind those traces of anchovy in the Worcestershire..)

  14. iniyaal

     /  October 3, 2011

    Good amoutn of info, and it is an interesting read.. I have been vegan from ever since I can remember … Not a conscious decision, but because my parents, my grandparents and generations before them have been vegan 🙂

    Not only war, even friendly dplomatic relations between countries have long existed due to food trade. Trade of spices for cooking, exchange of reipes have fostered trade between the Arabian kingdoms, kingdoms of the Indian sub-continent and China many thousand years ago.

    • Great comment and one we should try to replicate, eh? Creating strong and healthy relationships through food!

  15. Who would have thought food playing a role in world peace. Really, this is fascinating. I have often wondered if there was also a field such as “anthroplogy of food” or “Evolution of Food” which explores how food integrated with culture over the ages. Could you blog about that sometime?

    Very good post!

  16. Food shortages of worldwide, and epic proportions are only beginning to increase to what they will most likely soon be, due to many things, but one root rotting disease through most of all the wheat producing countries, as well as a lot of other factors…all I am too pushed for time to go into, as I have to head out to feed the masses at the restaurant. lol, Anyway, yes as sad as the “Joe” account is in content, it certainly smacks on much reality the world will soon be facing.
    Bless You

    • Aha! no wonder you have so many great tricks – you have a restaurant. I hope there is a more hopeful and joyful way than what the JOE might prepare us for.

  17. Phew, what a topic…thank you for reading on our behalf, Tammy, and sharing this insight.

  18. Okay I thought it was about G.I. Joe but then the topic was totally different . But this post is very entertaining, very interesting. As for food shortage, partly it’s about distribution and partly it’s also about economics. I grew up in a country where some people can barely eat 2 times a day from extreme poverty whereas in America people can eat as much as they want, as often as they want. It hurts me to see people waste food just because they can not realizing that somewhere in another country a young child is dying of malnutrition. Life ain’t truly fair. Going back to the Joe’s pics, my son have a few GI joe toys. he’s crazy about soldiers. Have a great day!


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