Sunday, November 1, 2015

fast frozen foods

In a chilling account of the American "coldscape" in Cabinet Magazine, Nicola Twilley informs her readers that more than three-quarters of the food consumed in the U.S is processed, packaged, shipped, stored and sold under artificial refrigeration. In a beautifully written piece she traces this coldscape encompassing your home refrigerator, shipping containers, cheese caves, meat lockers, cellars and biobanks.

There could have been another actor in this network, pneumatic tubes. In Long-Haul Trucking and the Technopolitics of Industrial Agriculture, 1945 - 1975, Shane Hamilton describes this possible alternate future, through the coldscape imaginaries of the 1950s; a time when frozen food and refrigeration was seen to revolutionise food disribution and turn vegetable and animal matter into "pure abstractions capable of being transported, sold, and consumed at any time or place":
For example, one agricultural economist, in a fanciful aside in a technical article in 1951, dreamed of a tunnel distribution system whereby homeowners would hook up their freezers to a pneumatic tube that would deliver packages from the frozen food factory on demand (H.J. Humphrey, Temperatures for Frozen Foods, Ice and Refrigeration 121 (August 1951): 52 - 58)"
As my friend Patryk, who sent me this gem, points out "unfortunately long-haul trucks won the competition with pneumatic tubes".

Thanks Patryk for the always fabulous and quirky histories of technologies you send my way, and Alex for the lend of her Cabinet magazine!

Image my own, from the Paris' coldscape underground.

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