I found Nicola Twilley’s lecture to be the most intriguing one yet. When she first said she was lecturing about refrigerators, I was highly skeptical and wondering where that topic could possibly take us. At the end of the hour I was thoroughly astonished by how dramatically refrigeration has shaped our natural world since its invention and how little of what she presented on I was aware of. I thought it was particularly interesting her thought on how we perceive refrigerated food as being fresh. We rarely take the time to smell or look at food anymore before deciding it has gone bad, we simply trust the expiration date. And not just that but the fact that the soy product company Silk pays to have its soy milk refrigerated so people associate it with being healthier for you. With the way refrigeration has changed our food industry I think it is interesting to note the cultural shift it has had on perceived quality and freshness of food.
When you watch documentaries like Food Inc. on Netflix you finish feeling like a worse person for eating meat and you start to think critically about what the meat market has actually done to our society. Twilley put Food Inc. into a whole new perspective for me. When refrigeration was invented in the early 1900’s, it made the storage of excess meat possible for the first time. This one fact alone has changed the landscape of the world we live in today. Having access to meat all the time changed the American diet to what it is today and created a booming market that helped the US economy flourish. On the other side of that though, the American demand for meat products has led to all of the issues concerning GMOs, hormones in food, free range, grass fed, etc that are being presented in food documentaries. In Food Inc., the meat market is not shown in a positive light, but in reality they are just catering to the demands and needs of the American people created by refrigeration. Hormones in chickens to make them grown faster became a necessity as the demand for chicken increased, and the same thing happened with beef. Refrigeration is to blame for all of these issues. America overconsumption has strong roots in refrigeration because we are able to buy as much as we want at a time without having to worry about it going bad. As I have an interest in public health, I’d be curious to know what refrigeration’s estimated on impact on obesity rates might be. Refrigeration has made it possible for fast food companies like McDonalds to easily serve thousands of burgers and fries daily. The fast food industry could not exist without the advances of refrigeration. Refrigeration has had an immeasurable impact on American society. As a final thought take a minute and think about what the physical American landscape would look like if refrigeration didn’t exist. Would there still be cow tunnels in New York? Would popular stores like Walmart be losing out to smaller fresh market competitors or would they even exist at all? These are the things Twilley’s lecture made me consider.