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Thu, Jan 18 2007

Ethanol is in, but so is Middle Eastern fast food: Do Brazilians know something we don't know?

Someone passed along to me something written by Byron King at Whiskey and Gunpowder, entitled Investing in Ethanol. Ethanol, via corn production, has been touted lately by some folks as the answer to all the oil woes we might face in the U.S. But every focus on a solution usually raises new problems and ethanol is no exception. Particularly interesting to me were the comments (and answers to comments) in a separate column. What doesn't show there are some of the added comments (perhaps to be posted online later in Part II) by Mr. King regarding Brazil's successful use of ethanol. He points out that Brazil's climate, lack of suburbian commuters and sheer number of vehicles make ethanol production much more feasible for Brazil than for the U.S. He also mentions that Brazil's gas consumption is less than three percent that of U.S. consumption. (They also make their ethanol using sugar cane and not corn.)

Whiskey and Gunpowder's focus is more on making sensible moves in investing than on saving the planet, but the two may be bound together in ways we never thought would matter. And I'm fairly sure that most of us just don't want to hear the news that the solution to our heavy consumption of oil and oil by-products is not going to come in the form of some miracle crop. We're going to have to decide how we want to live in the future and start taking some responsibility to prepare for that kind of lifestyle in the choices we make in the present.

If you really want to jump on the kind of bandwagon that's taking off in Brazil, you might try to get yourself a Habib's franchise. One article from Saudi Aramco World claims that Habib's is now second only to McDonald's in Brazil. And of course, they hope to grab the attention of U.S. franchise-seekers soon. I smiled at the names of the other Middle Eastern fast-food chains popping up to rival Habib's, particularly one called Mister Sheik. Well now, did we really think that Middle Eastern influence, oil or otherwise, would just disappear that easily from Western culture? I'd venture to say that Sheik and Steak will be here soon enough.

posted at: 07:31 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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