Butterflies

Buy Less Frozen Food

Or all our food will be frozen. By a new ice age.

Ice to see you again.

Always start with a gag. The one above is a play on words because today we’re going to be talking about frozen food. I hope that doesn’t leave you cold.

That last one was an accident. Right, frozen food. The 1950s lied to us about a lot of things. Reds were not under the beds; they were miles away and poorly organised. Duck and cover was not a sufficient mechanism for surviving a nuclear blast; for that you’d need a fridge and a CG prairie dog. And frozen TV dinners were not the perfect solution for busy housewives; they were one of the most polluting forms of food production. We fell for that shit pretty solidly. We’ve grown wise to the first two. But we’re still buying tons of frozen food.

One of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truths was that frozen food uses ten times more energy in its production than the warm stuff. That makes sense. Skeptical as we are about statistics it obviously takes more energy to freeze food than to not bother. It’s an extra step in the production chain and a more energy-intensive form of storage at home. Picture a fresh pea sitting on your worktop and a frozen pea sitting in your electricity-powered freezer and have a think about which is the bigger user of energy. Then picture a trillion peas and have a think about the energy and the carbon and the various apocali we’re about to encounter. Because of peas.

However, as Zeroes we love to be bombarded by contradictory facts, tormented by doubts and paralysed by indecision. Happily, this Butterfly is more complicated than it seems. Chilled food may be even worse than frozen, at least when stored in doorless chiller cabinets that waste massive amounts of energy to save consumers the arduous step of… opening a fridge door. Worse, the WWF recommends frozen food as a way to reduce food waste, which is one of the contributors to climate breakdown. And empty freezers, now going unused by Zeroes everywhere, use more energy than fully stocked ones because it’s harder to chill empty space than already-frozen solids. Hooray!

The frozen food industry, which may not be entirely neutral in this debate, insists it’s not the villain here. The British Frozen Food Federation goes so far as to suggest frozen food is actually pro-Gore: “Freezing food enables people to enjoy all types of food throughout the year, regardless of season (reducing costs and carbon output caused by importation).” Well fine, but that’s like saying murdering tramps enables people to enjoy all types of walking around town, regardless of season (because they don’t get all up in your face asking for change). I realise now it’s barely like that at all, but they’re missing the point. The choice is not between frozen food produced in the UK and fresh food produced in Paraguay because we consider food miles and seasonality; it’s between frozen food produced in the UK and fresh food produced in the UK.

Let’s not overcomplicate this. Frozen food requires more energy. We want to reduce the energy we use. We need to cut down on frozen food. Captain Bird’s Eye might seem the friendly type but actually his chilly produce is slowly pushing us to destruction, apocalypse and another ice age and, fond as he is of having his food a bit nippy, he’s taking things that little bit too far. We’ll buy less frozen food, pack our freezers with random shit to avoid empty space, campaign to put doors on supermarket chiller cabinets, and move on to the next bit of do-gooding.

Buy less frozen food

 

Save energy

 

Save the goddamn world

 

Photo credit: The Zero

Related Blog Posts

The Big Plastic Count: World’s Worst Typo Successfully Avoided

The Big Plastic Count: World’s Worst Typo Successfully Avoided

Among the million things we need to do to avert climate breakdown, kicking the arse out of plastic is one of the most urgent. Plastic comes from dirty-bad oil, gas and coal, using about 4.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 6% of coal-fired electricity in its production. We’re bringing on the sixth mass extinction for the sake of shrink-wrapped broccoli.

Doing nothing for the environment

Doing nothing for the environment

In my withered, Covid-infested state I find myself doing less and less for the big battles we need to win: Yer climate breakdown, yer rise of fascism, yer eating the rich. But recently I’ve discovered a critical area of climate activism that requires even less effort than doing very little: Doing nothing at all! By which I mean I’m buying less shit.

9 life hacks for ignoring the IPCC climate report

9 life hacks for ignoring the IPCC climate report

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC – issued its latest report this week, pointing out how monumentally fucked we are because we like cars, burgers and mass extinctions. It makes for grim reading – but only if you actually read it. Here are nine ways you can avoid giving it any thought at all!

An almost buyer’s guide to electric cars 2: Electric car boogaloo

An almost buyer’s guide to electric cars 2: Electric car boogaloo

Desperate to avoid petrol I hired an electric car for the purposes of hard science. I requisitioned a Renault Zoe for a few days, rented a lab coat and three pens for its pocket, bought a clipboard outright and began the grand experiment. The key tests were how well the battery lasted with my commute and the business of social work, how quickly it drained when parked overnight, how big a pain in the arse public charge points are, and how often I’d have to use the buggers.

An almost buyer’s guide to electric cars, maybe

An almost buyer’s guide to electric cars, maybe

Back in the arse-end of 2019 I finally ditched my car, having decided humanity was marginally more important than an easy commute. But then Covid hit. And hit me right in the face. Almost two years later I’m still having trouble walking, still working fully from home and only just starting full time hours. I need a car. Which means I need an electric car, which means a lot of expense…

Climate anxiety: The self-righteousest of all anxieties

Climate anxiety: The self-righteousest of all anxieties

And so we find ourselves on the eve of COP26, where highfalutin delegates from around 200 countries will come together in Glasgow to either unite the world to tackle climate change or to talk shit, greenwash their failures and prove virtue signalling is a real thing after all. In preparation I’ve been hard at work on my soul-crushing climate anxiety. This requires long nights lying awake fretting, long days doomscrolling social media. It requires your heart pounding against your ribs so hard it actually makes a noise.

A three-legged carbon footprint

A three-legged carbon footprint

My grand return to the world of disability hasn’t been great for carbon footprinting. The early, housebound stage was amazing, obviously. The plus side of not leaving my bed for months is that it reduced my emissions – and my activity, social life and hope – to zero. But as I got more with it, public transport was no longer an option…

11 Reasons Climate Change Will Wipe Us Out, LOL

11 Reasons Climate Change Will Wipe Us Out, LOL

As the climate crisis escalates and we begin laying track for Fury Roads, most of us are living our lives much as before. It’s a society-wide combover, with all of us pretending not to notice the very clear bald patches poking through. But even with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears, climate breakdown will keep on trucking. Here’s how, Buzzfeed style:

Blog archives

Share This