On the Lack of a Refrigerator

So my family just moved into a new house the other day, but the refrigerator won’t arrive from the factory for another few days.  This condition has vast environmental implications.  Really.

My headache for the past few days has been: how to store food?  Even I have the basic competence to prepare a meal without refrigerated products, but how does one keep the food around overnight and later?  What do I pack for my 6-year-old daughter’s lunch for the next day?  (And it’s worse because the products that have the longest non-refrigerated shelf life are full of hydrogenated oils).

This got me to the dangerous activity of thinking.  Somewhere close to 99% of the human beings who lived on this planet have functioned without refrigeration, so it’s pretty pathetic that this has become a problem for me.  It shows you just how far modern civilization has traveled away from the earth and natural processes that the problem comes up.

It also shows how technology can help the earth.  Although I’m not sure, I imagine that a lot of food was wasted in previous generations because it spoiled (this is also, of course, why the spice trade was so lucrative).  So the ability to produce food and not have it rot conceivably should have led to less waste, with proportionally less overfishing, overgrazing, and damaging agricultural practices that exhaust the earth.

Less waste, however, does not imply less consumption: far from it.  With better methods of food storage, people might just eat more: in fact, they probably do.  And less rotten food probably means less disease, the ability to store medicine, etc., which leads to population growth, which leads to approaching the earth’s carrying capacity.

But I’m still getting the refrigerator.  At least it’s an Energy Star model.


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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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