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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What’s Between The Farm And Your Fridge?

An employee at the Whaling City Seafood Auction pulls a pallet of scallops sold at action earlier in the day through a refrigerated storage room to be loaded on a truck in New Bedford, Mass., in May 2012. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

An employee at the Whaling City Seafood Auction pulls a pallet of scallops sold at action earlier in the day through a refrigerated storage room to be loaded on a truck in New Bedford, Mass., in May 2012. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

Tropicana tank farm in Bradenton, Florida. (Nicola Twilley)

Tropicana tank farm in Bradenton, Florida. (Nicola Twilley)

The first U.S. patent for a refrigerator was awarded to a Florida doctor in 1851, but it wasn’t intended to cool food. The inventor wanted to use it for air conditioning.

Now, artificial refrigeration has completely changed the way we eat.

Nicola Twilley is author of the blog Edible Geography, as well as co-founder of the Foodprint Project and director of Studio-X NYC, an urban futures network run by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning.

She wrote about the network of giant refrigeration spaces across the country for Cabinet magazine.


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  • Bigbassdaddy

    You’d have to warm up the OJ to get the 32° C 

    • QuackFiend

       Yeah, I caught that one too.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         And me :)

        32 C is almost 90 F. I doubt they are successfully storing it for months at that temp.

        • Nicola Twiley

           Sorry for that mistake — I grew up in England, where I got used to saying “Centigrade” after “degrees,” to the point where I still sometimes say it as an accidental reflex, even when I’m talking about a temperature in Fahrenheit. As you correctly guessed, OJ is, of course, stored between 32 and 34 degrees Fahrenheit!

    • Katherine/Here and Now

      Sorry about that! Our guest misspoke. 

  • Curious

    I was really interested in this interview!
    I learned a ton, and still want to know more on the subject….

  • Jfaatz

    Loved this interview.  Ms Twilley’s  articulation was stunning and such fun to listen to.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

      I also found her speech very articulate and tried to place her unusual accent without success.  Perhaps she grew up in England and moved to the US a while back?

  • Sarah

    Robin, you commented that our diets were “bland” before we were able to eat refrigerated foods shipped from far off lands that would otherwise be out of season where we live. Au contraire! What is blander than a mealy peach that has been bred for a long shelf life and grown half a world away? Or hard tomatoes that look like they are supposed to, but taste like.. well… nothing.

    Our taste buds live a dull life since the advent of such produce preservation technology.

    I contend – from experience – that when you eat what is in season for your local area, the flavor is out of this world. And after you eat your fill of the produce available in April and May, say strawberries, you are ready for the produce available in June, and so on. What a treat when strawberries come back around next spring!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    Regarding the designation of “natural ethylene gas” vs. “artificial ethylene gas” — this is nonsensical nomenclature.  Ethylene gas is Ethylene gas no matter the source, whether it is piped in from gas bottles, or emanating from apples, it is the same exact thing. 

    As far as banana ripening, I make my own “ripening room” with a paper sack and an apple. 

  • skpdx

    “Who knew there was a Cabinet magazine?” Did I hear that right? Robin, I’m disappointed. As a journalist, focusing on current events, arts and culture in America, you ought to be browsing good newstands regularly. If you did that, you’d have discovered Cabinet about 12 years ago. It’s a thick, beautiful, full-color journal which is — hands down, I think — the single most fascinating magazine or journal in the United States. And it’s actually priced quite reasonably, around $10, which is much less than some art & design journals with equivalent aesthetics and color …and less content than Cabinet.

    The only problem with Cabinet — and it might not be a problem anymore — is/was the staff’s lack of rigorous prepress & proofing work before sending the documents to the printer. I learned of this from an unusual issue of Cabinet, which included an insert from the printer, explaining that, after many requests to the Cabinet staff to improve their ways, the printer decided, for once, to stick closely to the printer’s job description and contract terms. So, for this issue, the printer explained, no spelling errors or typos were corrected, misplaced captions remain misplaced, etc, etc. (Though it might be a collector’s edition now, I did not purchase that issue. As one who knows something about prepress work, I was disappointed in the Cabinet folks …and impressed with the printer for taking such a stand.)

    *** Actually, Robin, you should seriously consider interviewing the Cabinet founders & staff for your show. The printer problem would surely provide an amusing anecdote, and really, it is a very very unusual journal, and it is quite popular & influential. And of course, it’s informative — I might never have learned of America’s ‘coldscape’ otherwise, or learned of Chile’s experiment in cybernetic democracy during Salvador Allende’s all-too-brief presidency. It doesn’t waste resources covering the same topics as other journals …or other media outlets.

    Cabinet seems very idiosyncratic, much like a super-huge, super-fancy, ‘zine. Yet it appeals to tons of people.

    And Cabinet is fun!!  Among the fun things about the journal are the unusual postcards included with every issue.

    (I *think* postcards are still found in every issue of Cabinet. Due to my super tight budget, I’ve not bought Cabinet for quite a while, sadly, despite its relatively reasonable price. Though I’m going to try to start buying it again, now that I’ve been thinking about how cool it is!)

    I ♥ Cabinet


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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