Sunday, November 11, 2018

Exploration: Reducing Refrigerator Dependence

The recent fires in Butte County have given me a lot of time to think, while hiding out from the smoke filled skies of the Bay Area.  I read that PG&E had considered shutting down the power grid -- but did not, and conditions resulted in the massive wildfire that decimated the town of Paradise and the evacuation of over 50K people.

One of the key considerations is the reliance on electricity and the challenges faced by less affluent households when the power goes out:  they can't afford solar panels or generators to keep their food in the fridge.   If you're not in a hospital or nursing facility, or dependent on electricity for some kind of healthcare related system -- your biggest risk is your week (or more) of food in the refrigerator and freezer.

So, how can we reduce our dependence on the refrigerator?  I found this interesting article about the history of refrigerators in the US -- and it got me wondering whether I could cut back my use of the refrigerator to a point where I would not lose perishables in a power outage of longer than 2-3 days (or however long a refrigerator stays cold).

This would require changing my shopping habits -- making purchases of fresh vegetables more frequently -- and not storing anything in the freezer.  I would also have to stop stocking up on perishables like vegan cheeses, seitan and condiments.  I've already experimented with using my Excalibur dehydrator to dry pesto and harissa -- and this year, I canned all my enchilada sauce (but not my tomato juice, for example). 

I'm going to start working toward reducing perishables in my freezer and fridge - and identifying foods that don't need to be kept in the fridge (does the hot sauce really need to be refrigerated?). 

If you have any experience with such an experiment -- I'd love to hear from you!

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