Small fridges make good cities, but American fridges just keep getting bigger

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Architect Donald Chong wrote that Small fridges make good cities, "where you respond to the marketplace, the baker, vegetable store and farmers market instead of the big weekly shop at the Walmart. You don't need as big a fridge when you are committed to fresh and seasonal."

In the Atlantic, Jonathan Rees looks at the modern American fridge, and why it got so big.

Because the average American family goes grocery shopping once a week, a gigantic refrigerator is required to keep all the perishables they acquire on that trip. Household refrigerators differ greatly from country to country because the characteristics that citizens in different countries want in their refrigerators are reflections of their cultures so at this point in history once weekly shopping trips is an almost uniquely American habit.

In Europe it is very different; a few years back we covered Oprah's visit to a very fancy Copenhagen apartment where she was absolutely shocked at how small the fridge was. They didn't need a big fridge, because they lived in a walkable community and shopped for fresh food every day in the local stores.

Rees has a different vision; he thinks big fridges are a good thing.

Thanks to the efficiencies associated with the modern cold chain, almost every American can now afford to eat foods out of season, or foods of all kinds shipped in from far away.

Even though the modern cold chain means powering refrigerated shipping containers, trucks, warehouses and vast banks of fridges in the supermarket selling prepared foods. Rees concludes:

The size of our refrigerators, like the food we keep inside them, tells us something about our culture, our lifestyle and our values.

Indeed it does. Unfortunately that culture and lifestyle is unsustainable.

Tags: Appliances | Urban Life