meat-centric culture impacts not just what we eat, but how we store our
food. This off-beat article was originally published in The FAR Newsletter in 1994.
When was the last time
you bought a refrigerator? I myself don't usually make a habit of shopping
for "big ticket" items, but recently I had the opportunity to do
so. A friend was in dire need of a new fridge so I offered to help scour
We headed over to the
local Sears and wound our way into the gleaming appliance section. At first
all the refrigerators looked alike, but gradually we zeroed in on the major
difference among them: the freezer. Most freezers are traditionally located
at the top of the fridge, some are parallel to the body like a side door,
but a select few are positioned at the bottom. You're probably wondering,
what does it matter anyway?
Well, as a vegetarian,
I say it matters a lot. If you observe closely, you will notice that the
majority of refrigerators situate the vegetable bins way at the bottom. At
the top of the hierarchy sits the freezer, the compartment which invariably
stocks ample meat supplies and processed, prepackaged fast food. The
freezer's premier placement promotes easy access to those types of
products. Needless to say, fresh vegetables are not freezer material.
Instead, vegetables are relegated to a sort of enclosed netherworld where
the produce is out of sight, out of mind.
We found a model,
however, that deserves more attention. It's called the "bottom
mount," (i.e., the freezer is at the bottom). The name itself reveals
an industry preoccupation with freezer location. This little baby, though,
has the vegetable bins smack dab in the middle, making vegetable
accessibility convenient, if not a breeze! No more hunching down, awkwardly
opening testy drawers or fumbling for zucchini only to find some rotten
carrots hidden down in the bin's back bowels. Of the 25 or so refrigerators
on display at Sears, a paltry two or three were bottom mounts. My friend
and I wisely limited our selection to these few choices.
Yet, even the bottom
mount had a few disconcerting features. Drawers were constructed to hold
"MEAT" and "DAIRY PRODUCTS." At home, with the help of
a magic marker, these bins became "EAT" and "AIRY
PRODUCTS." The BUTTER box was likewise mislabeled for those of us who
use safflower oil margarine. And what's a vegan supposed to store in all
those curved slots designed for eggs?
manufacturers of refrigerators market their product to meat eating, freezer
foods-oriented consumers. The next time you're shopping for a refrigerator,
let the store, the refrigerator industry and consumer groups know that you
want a vegetable friendly refrigerator!
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