General Question

talljasperman's avatar

Fluther engineers, can you reproduce the technology in an food assembly line?

Asked by talljasperman (21875points) August 18th, 2014

In case the world collapses and needs to be restored?

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7 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

If “the world collapses” there will be bigger problems than restoring food processing and packaging on assembly lines. One of the bigger problems will be finding people willing to raise food crops and livestock in quantity and able to defend the crops and stock from predators (including human ones), then reap it / butcher it, store it and ship it – and to be able to do that as well as willing.

Even if the grower is found and can do the job, and then even if the shipper will make the transportation of food to a processing plant that your nominal engineer can operate, and then even if another shipper can take the processed food to market, there still needs to be “a market”. That all implies regular commerce so that the farmer, shipper, engineer and marketer can resupply and operate whatever equipment they all need, safe roads to enable that commerce, some kind of currency or other portable means of exchange of value (barter is messy on large scale), and ways to conduct business over distance with trust.

Large scale food processing is not going to be one of the first industries to re-emerge from a collapse of civilization.

RocketGuy's avatar

We would have to head to the library to learn how people did it in the 14th century.

CWOTUS's avatar

Well… it’s not as bad as that.

We do know how to produce and preserve food in good-size batches, and in ways that don’t take too much mechanical processing: We can dry, salt and can foods, for example, with equipment that’s no more exotic than drying racks and the sun, bags of salt, and home hot water and pressure canning setups. And that’s done all the time by people who grow their own food and process it for long-term storage without the use of freezers. And “collapse of society” does not have to mean that everyone has to do without electricity for cooking and refrigeration, so freezers aren’t out of the question, either.

All I’m saying is that “industrial” food production and large-scale commercial ventures promoting and distributing it are not going to be redeveloped overnight following a catastrophic breakdown of civilization.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

My father designed several of the machines that convey beer bottles around in factories. I’m pretty sure I could get his help to get that going again. I could do the process control, programming,power generation and instrumentation. Oh, and brewing of course. There should be enough spare parts laying around what is left of the earth. If we can’t make beer available to the masses again…all is lost.

jerv's avatar

If society collapses, those who can only feed themselves from prepared food will likely perish before society could rebuild enough to make such a thing even a priority. If you cannot cook from raw ingredients, you damn well be able to barter with someone who can if you plan to live longer than a few days. And odds are that you’ll have to gather those ingredients yourself as well, whether by farming or hunting.

@ARE_you_kidding_me If you want to make beer, I’ll see what I can do about helping get the generators going again. I’m sure @LuckyGuy would help too. Screw food; if I had to live in a post-apocalypse world, I’d rather be drunk than eat!

RocketGuy's avatar

@CWOTUS – true that. I watched sea salt being made in Thailand, so I could duplicate that, given access to sea water. My father-in-law told me the basics for preserving meats in a salt cellar. So I could do it if necessary.

I’ve grown tomatoes, carrots, and loquats in the backyard, so just need seeds and water.

Still, I think I would have to barter fix-it skills for basic food items.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re right, @RocketGuy: on an individual-to-individual basis barter will work well (except that sometimes you may need a third party to complete the trading chain, as in the case where your fixit skills aren’t needed by the seller, but someone else can use your fixit skills and complete the trade for the thing that you want). But as an operation scales up beyond “cottage industry” size, that’s no longer optional. That was the point that I was making about why “currency” or some other form of exchange medium will be necessary to re-establish industry.

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