Reefer Madness: The Footprint of Refrigerated Food

graph of energy use in agriculture photo

We often talk about the benefits of local, fresh food, but here is another we have not thought about before: the footprint of refrigeration. So many processed foods move from reefer trailer to refrigerated case in the store to the freezer in your house, what does that use in energy?

Over at the Ethicurian, Marc crunched the numbers and found that the entire food industry uses 1.02.1016 BTUs of energy per year, the equivalent of 1,760,000 barrels of oil. Refrigeration uses up 14.9% of that (the hatched part of the graph above) or 262,000 barrels of oil, or 464,546, MWhr.

frozen food coolers

Of course, shopping for fresh food and using it right away won't get rid of all refrigeration; we will always have ice cream and milk. But it certainly would make a difference. ::Ethicurian for backup and sources

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