The middle-class blogosphere is rife with environmentalist and do-gooders renouncing white good as a fashionable and noble deed, with little though for sectors of society that are denied the agency to choose.
Geographers became increasingly involved in city scape food debates in the 1970s as interest in survival and poverty behaviours spiked, particularly who has the right to access the city and the ways the built environment manipulates individual survival strategy. Modern ideas of the metropolitan city foster images of prosperity and availability, however unprivileged individuals living in these spaces have compromised food justice contradictory to their living environment.
Food justice: having access to affordable food that is safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate.
This Blog will address how institutional exclusions of cold food storage impacts an individual’s ability to achieve food justice and their food decision autonomy and derive conclusions about the institutional status towards poverty survival behaviours.
Claims of “better food for the masses” meant the fridge/freezer swiftly rose in popularity in British homes effectively reducing the seasonal gap in vitamins and minerals while increasing the metaphorical distance between farm and fork.
As frozen and refrigerated food was improving nutrient availability for the masses, those without became equally secluded and left with relatively poorer quality food and fewer options. In Britain, an estimated 8 Million people cannot afford to buy/repair household goods such as fridges, telephones or carpets.
Individuals occupying council owned properties are often provided with a space in the home for fridge/freezer, but not the appliance itself. Whereas others such as Rotherham council operate a point based funding system, where the individual may apply for a number of household goods from a list depending on the house size, critically this list boast basic items such as beds likely leaving the individual strong armed into living without a fridge/freezer regardless.
In an attempt to Identify key personal impacts of restricted access to fridges/freezers I have spent a week living without. It is noteworthy that this experiment is not intended to replicate conditions, and however thought provoking, is it is important to identify my positionality as an individual with the agency to choose and differing worldview.
Day 1: Adversary
As a well-equipped individual with a car and the ability to research food solutions the challenge ahead was laced with optimist and motivation. Nonetheless food morphed into obstacle occupying much more time and effort. “The fragility of poor people’s lives” operate in contention to these privileges, under different work/life time formats and likely facing adversary in other places, making these food demands evermore intensified.
Day 2: Stigma
The concept of living without a fridge provoked reactions of pity. In response, I was determined to show my culinary flare getting inventive with my meals.
The Fridge/freezer has become an expected part of the home and base-line living standards in Britain, those without may feel shame or failure. For this reason, people may prioritise TVs/technology with more visible symbolic cultural meaning.
Day 3: “Convenience” Store
Living on short life perishable goods meant recurrent trips to the more expensive local convenience stores were necessary. The combination of more food waste/expensive prices increased food’s real monetary and emotional value, transforming into a commodity to be cherished, rather than slung in the fridge.
Day 4: Food for Pleasure
I was lucky enough to be staying with a friend and have breakfast provided, including ice cold orange juice. Although orange juice can be Safely consumed at any temperature, it is influential to enjoyment. It is clear that Institutional providers operate on a model of food for sustenance rather than enjoyment, overlooking the emotional value of food.
Days 5&6: Beggars Can’t be choosers
I was beginning to resent my meal plan & self-imposed food structures restricting choice.
The institutional food structures in Britain replicate this effect on a large scale, it does not allow for individuals desires or needs to deviate from the dominant population group (isolating religious, health or eating disorder conditions). Additionally, Food operates as a cultural and social tool, the sharing/making of food is relevant in creating and implementing identity.
Day 7: Uncertainty looking forward
Could I do this or a permanent basis and not have my choices, social identity or nutrition impacted? Probably not considering how thrilled I was to be using a fridge again tomorrow.
So, Yes. One is able to survive without a fridge/freezer; However, the question of food justice relates to how the fridge impacts an individual’s agency and ability to access affordable, safe nutritious and culturally appropriate food, moving increasingly away from the model of survival behaviours.
In Britain, flat rate treatment or cost often results in a relative taxation on the poor. In reference to household cold food storage the initial motivations of better nutrition, choice and convenience ostracize some groups in society, effectively implementing relatively lower levels of food justice upon them.
We have discovered that restricted access to cold food storage does this in three mains ways:
- Isolating the individual from food choices granted to the dominant population
- Making things harder on those who already struggle, thus narrowing opportunities to a short term living pattern endemic to cyclical poverty and social immobility
- disregarding deviation from the determined mean food choices, predetermined by the government that in turn provide insight into the othering of poor people in British communities
Varying lifestyles and needs of people living within Britain undoubtedly make it difficult to implement suitable universal food justice systems. Progressive food regimes promising more nutritious and variable food choices are overshadowing parts of Britain and inflicting a poverty premium by restricting the ability for all to achieve on this level. In order to create a system of food justice more research and governmental effort need to be directed into the best ways to achieve food justice or a large and varying scale.