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 the goddamn world
Photo credit: The Zero
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