They say 'small fridges make good cities,' but I'd argue that 'large fridges make good villages.'
Ever since Lloyd wrote his post about why ‘small fridges make good cities,’ lamenting the ubiquity of giant fridges and the resulting increase in food waste, energy use, and loss of personal connection with local food vendors, I’ve been mulling over my own situation in comparison.
Unlike Lloyd, who lives downtown Toronto, I live in a small, rural town of about 12,000 people. Surrounded by farmland and forest, with Lake Huron bordering one side, a car is an unfortunate necessity in this town. There are almost no food-related stores on the main street, and the only grocery stores within reasonable biking distance are a Walmart superstore and a big chain supermarket.
Beyond the town limits, however, there is a glorious world of local food production that city-dwellers can only dream of. Here, I have developed relationships with primary food producers on their farms, rather than with local vendors who bring the products into the city to sell in their stores – and it’s possible because I have a large fridge and freezer in which to store the food I buy.
The truth is, I can’t imagine life without a large fridge. That appliance, with its accessible double doors and convenient freezer drawer, is a workhorse that saves me time, money, and food. Here’s why I love it.
I can buy and cook in bulk.
I subscribe to a year-round CSA share of organic, heirloom vegetables that are grown fairly close to home, although I have to drive 15 minutes to pick it up once a week. I need fridge space to store the vast quantities of delicious vegetables that my family of 2 kids and 2 adults consumes over the course of the week. Because my house is small and the kitchen positively miniscule, the fridge provides necessary storage space for ingredients and leftovers.
The eggs I eat come from a friend’s free-range chickens, but she only delivers in town occasionally. Because I have fridge space, I’m able to stock up on multiple dozens.
I can freeze in bulk.
I’m a big fan of canning, but there’s a limit to how much I can do and find space to store. My family eats some meat, though we buy exclusively hormone-free and grass-fed local meat. The cheapest way to do this (as well as most ethical and least wasteful in terms of packaging) is to buy a whole animal, which then requires freezer space. While I end up paying for the energy to run an extra freezer, I save time and gas by having meat on hand and avoiding trips to the butcher shop.
A large fridge makes meal prep easy.
Every single meal is prepared from scratch. We eat at restaurants or get take-out maybe once a month, if that. All this cooking requires a wide variety of fresh ingredients to be on hand at all times. If I didn’t keep a fully stocked fridge, I’d be more inclined to go out for dinner or resort to less healthy, more convenient options.
It minimizes time spent shopping.
My children are young, and I would not want to shop for groceries with them on a daily basis. If I lived in a city and could walk easily to food vendors, it would be a different matter and a pleasant excuse to get out of the house, but when grocery shopping means putting them in the car and pushing them around a supermarket, it’s something I prefer to avoid. Stocking up on a weekly basis is a better option.
It minimizes the distance travelled by much of the food I eat.
I wouldn’t be surprised if much of the seasonal produce on Lloyd’s plate comes from the region where I live, about 3 hours northwest of Toronto. So when I buy directly from farmers, the food travels a much shorter distance in my car than if it was shipped in a refrigerated truck all the way to the city.
In conclusion, I depend heavily on my large fridge, as it enables me to cook and feed my family the way I like best. Although it does require constant vigilance to make sure nothing goes bad or gets forgotten, my large fridge is extremely helpful and I'm grateful for it every day.