A Journey Into Our Food System's Refrigerated-Warehouse Archipelago  

Posted by Big Gav in

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic has a look at the sprawling food refrigeration system that has emerged over the past few decades, noting "70 percent of the food we eat passes through the "cold chain" of chilled transportation and storage" - A Journey Into Our Food System's Refrigerated-Warehouse Archipelago.

"The diet of the average American is almost entirely dependent on the existence of a vast, distributed winter--a seamless network of artificially chilled processing plants, distribution centers, shipping containers, and retail display cases that creates the permanent global summertime of our supermarket aisles."

That's Nicola Twilley, one half of Venue and a contributor to this site, talking about her new installation at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles, "Perishable: An Exploration of the Refrigerated Landscape of America."

This is an infrastructural truth that it's possible to take as a kind of metaphor or hyperbole because it's almost impossible to believe the scale and complexity of the systems that undergird our lives. But just imagine opening your freezer and being able to see the true narrative of the foods inside. The story isn't solely one of agriculture, of farmers picking the food, and tossing it in the back of the truck. There's so much technology and transportation embedded in those frozen peas, all of which Twilley excavates.

And it's not just the stuff in the freezer! "At least 70 percent of the food we eat each year passes through or is entirely dependent on the cold chain for its journey from farm to fork, including foods that, on the surface, seem unlikely candidates for refrigeration," Twilley writes in introducing her show. "Peanuts, for example, are stored between 34 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit in giant refrigerated warehouses across Georgia (which produces nearly half of the country's peanut harvest)."

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