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Your Giant American Refrigerator Is Making You Fat And Poor

Thoughts? In the comments, there's a nice war going on between the "go shopping for 15 minutes 4 times a week!" group and the "please, tell me about all of the extra time you have in your day" crowd, but I wanted to hear the opinions of people who I know are serious about food.

I just typed out a long post, but I really just want to know what you guys think about this. My biggest storage problem is produce, so I don't think my fridge is making me particularly fat. That tends to happen from pantry items, like pasta and all of the easy brownie ingredients. ;)

Your Giant American Refrigerator Is Making You Fat And Poor

There is a fair chance that if you're reading this post, your fridge--the most-used and largest appliance in your house--is screwing you. The refrigerator...

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  1. Here would be my issue with this particular idea. I entertain. If I get the itty-bitty fridge....I can't fit the prep for dinner parties or Thanksgiving there. And frankly, while I do go multiple times per week for shopping; where would I put the leftovers that I need to use for later that week. The fam is not going to end up with multiple sauces and processed foods hanging out if that's not what you buy (now my cocktail syrup and picklilng experiments are a whole other story. I think the article makes some good points, but I wonder if it was written by someone who REALLY plays in the kitchen a great deal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nocturnalbill

      I doubt it. I always question food-related articles from sites that aren't food-centric. That's why I brought it here to be dissected.

      It's probably good advice for singles or childless couples who live in big cities (read: close to shopping) who don't do Thanksgiving dinner.

      However, it's not like people in Europe don't have kids, so obviously they make their little fridges work somehow.

    2. I'm retired now, so I have the freedom to shop 3 times a week and I do. When I was working in NYC, or worse, Long Island, and commuting from NNJ, once a week was all that was possible. And I'm a single.

      People who live outside the Northeast were always shocked when I was on business trips and talked about a 2-hr one-way daily commute. They thought 20 minutes was a lot.

      Between US suburban sprawl, the price of gas, long commutes, and people working either longer hours or multiple jobs (just to make ends meet), daily shopping is a rarity, in many cases, even a luxury.

      1. McDonald's and TGIFridayChiliO'CharleiesMcChipotlHut is making your ass fat.

        NOT an appliance.

        Hell, TWO fridges can sometimes not be enough when entertaing for me.
        And a chest freezer.

        I lived in London and never minded shopping for groceries many times a week. Now it's not an option where I am in the US . Have to get in my car and drive.
        Fossil fuel use = fat ass. Circle of fat ass life. Hakuna matata.

        I just took my mountain bike to go get lunch today. But Gawker doesn't care about that.

        Urban sprawl killed the ease of core business district shopping in all but the biggest of cities and towns.

        Meanwhile I;ll also bike to my local Tuesday farmer's mkt. later today and happily fill my big-azz fridge. And trade gobs of basil for meat with my butcher. Basil---ughhhhh.
        And still be skinny at the end of the week.

        How the hell does that work??????????????/

        I do like using frozen Hot Pockets as tire chocks or door stops though in a pinch.
        Maybe that's the reason.


        Gotta love "First World" problems. ZOMG.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jjjrfoodie

          LOL we have 2 fridges and a chest freezer too.

          1. re: jjjrfoodie

            Agreed - it's not the fridge, it's the design of the neighborhoods we live in.

            Just under a year ago I returned to the US after living in Jerusalem for 5 years. In Jerusalem I'd shop ~3-4 times a week. Two of those trips were larger (one to the open air market near my office, the other to another open air market) and the other were smaller mid-week trips.

            The other different aspect is that in Jerusalem, for the most part, there were no major advantages of buying items in bulk (items like toilet paper n such aside). So if I bought one lemon 4 times a week, it'd basically cost the same as buying 4 lemons at once. And I'd risk that 4th lemon not lasting the entire week. In the US, it's cheaper to buy a sack of lemons in bulk even with the risk that maybe one will have to be tossed due to spoilage or poor quality.

            Also - most of my fridges in Jerusalem were the same size as most standard American fridges.

          2. I have a large (Canadian ;)) fridge. It is full of healthy foods, for the most part. The less healthy things tend to reside in my pantry...

            I do shop fairly often for produce, but even a couple of days worth takes up a lot of space. I have two sons, both of whom drink serious amounts of milk. A couple of 4 litre jugs of milk, which is only a few days' worth, takes up a lot of space. Even things like yogurt take a lot of space, as we go through a couple of large containers every few days.

            The freezer has a significant amount of frozen fruit, and I like to cook batches of things like spaghetti sauce and stew to have in hand for quick meals.

            The large fridge is not making any of us fat in this house!

            1. This article is sort of silly. I'm sure in some cases a big fridge is wasteful, but when you factor in fuel costs for additional grocery trips (for those of us who don't live within walking distance of a grocery store or don't live in temperate climates) you may very well break even. And I call BS on the whole fridge size/obesity correlation. If you fill your fridge with hot pockets, pudding, and soda, then sure, that's not the healthiest. Mine is largely full of produce, since I can only really shop once a week and I eat fruit or veggies with literally every meal. It also gives me space to package up leftovers for my lunch in reusable containers and prep a few things on weekends so that I can make meals quickly on nights when I get home at 7:30. This saves a lot of eating out, which I guarantee would be less healthy than what I make at home as well as generating unneeded packaging since I would need to get takeout for lunches.

              7 Replies
              1. re: ErnieD

                " If you fill your fridge with hot pockets, pudding, and soda, then sure, that's not the healthiest." - The problem is that CH might not really reflect the "average" America consumer and the large majority of people in the US use their large fridges to fill it with only processed food.

                1. re: honkman

                  Don't you suppose that the average person would fill a smaller refrigerator with the same type of food, only shop for food needing refrigeration more often? Why blame the refrigerator? It is a symptom, not the cause of the problem.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    That's an interesting question - would a smaller fridge which requires much more frequent visits to the supermarket have any impact on the buying habits/average nutritional profile of the shopping basket of an average American. The first reaction would be obviously - no, because either you believe in certain "nutritional ground rules" or not. But sometimes psychology is doing strange things on your behavior, e.g. more frequent visits to the supermarket -> more 'exposure" to the produce aisle -> you buy more produce etc. ? That would actually something interesting to study

                    1. re: honkman

                      It could just as easily be more frequent visits to the supermarket -> more exposure to the Hostess endcap -> you buy more Ding Dongs. I would definitely want to see some actual research before making a judgment on that one, especially since I eat healthier since increasing my storage space when moving from an apartment to a house.

                      1. re: ErnieD

                        I am not implying that my connection is correct and I agree research would have to be done (but I find it interesting that in European countries with smaller fridge sizes the average customers seems to be eaten healthier than the average US customer - which doesn't mean that not a lot of Europeans don't eat processed food but having lived in different countries in Europe and US overall on average I think the percentage of processed food in your average shopping basket is higher in the US than in Europe.

                    2. re: GH1618

                      Exactly. And you can also fill a pantry with unhealthy food just as easily as a fridge, or you can stop at 7-11 for a doughnut and a Big Gulp every morning rather than "wasting" fridge space on Greek yogurt and fruit. The idea that people who shop at bulk stores eat more, therefore larger fridge=obesity is not a jump that is supported by any kind of logic. We have plenty of problems with nutrition in this country but none of them are going to be solved by getting smaller refrigerators.

                      1. re: ErnieD

                        Totally. My fridges are filled with homemade items, lacto fermented items, herbs, etc. much more about HOW you eat.

                        No ding dongs...okay...ummmm....just that one package ;)

                2. Mine is under 14 cu. ft. (combined) and uses 400 kWh/year, so I don't feel guilty.

                  Ice cream will make you fat if eaten on a regular basis, but that was the first thing I gave up when I decided to get serious about controlling my weight. I eat a green salad almost every day, and the lettuce is kept in the refrigerator. Where else could you keep it? You would have to go out to buy one head every day without a refrigerator to keep it in. That wouldn't be efficient.

                  I think it's stretch to blame the refrigerator for making you fat. People can choose to lose weight by making dietary choices without having to downsize the refrigerator.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: GH1618

                    That is a very modest fridge by North American standards.

                    1. re: lagatta

                      It was made by a European company. The giveaway is the egg storage rack which holds only ten eggs.

                    2. re: GH1618

                      A 30 cu. ft. LG is rated at 578 kWh/year (Bestbuy $2600). A 20 cu ft at 375 kW. Based on estimated costs, that's only $20/yr difference.

                      10 cu ft Euro style fridges at 400 kWh/year

                      1. smaller fridge = less hot-pockets = more trips to McDonalds

                        I can't shop 3x week reasonably - large fridge allows me to have fresh foods on hand, save leftovers and portion them out for lunches this avoiding takeout

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: JTPhilly

                          "I can't shop 3x week reasonably..." - That's a complain I heard a lot in the US but hardly ever in Europe but never understood.

                          1. re: honkman

                            I live in an urban area but our neighborhood retail was decimated and only returning with gentrification - I can walk to boutiques, gastro pubs & bistros but we do not have the traditional - bakery, butcher, green grocer type of stores, the only remaining small neighborhood markets have limited selections and close early, they are expensive as well - for grocery shopping a supermarket trip is required and specialty markets are a weekend adventure - I don't have time for this after work, multiple times per week and there is really no point going to a big supermarket 3x per week over once anyway- its going to be the same crap that was there 2 days ago. Without the retail infrastructure to support daily shopping it is not a valid option for me. When I lived in Queens, NY in a neighborhood full of small ethnic markets and specialty shops along with the excellent food markets in Manhattan - all of which I would pass on my way home - it was logical and pleasant to shop for that nights dinner each night. This is a luxury out of reach for most.

                            1. re: JTPhilly

                              I am not sure if it is out of reach for most as a significant part of the population lives in larger cities which have significant numbers of supermarkets. I also don't have a supermarket within walking distance but that doesn't mean that I don't shop 3-4 times/week

                              1. re: honkman

                                as said I have tons of supermarkets here in Philly - whole foods x2, super fresh x2, shop rite, pathmark, super wal-mart x2, super target and several local chains. within a 15 minute drive of my house. NONE of these places invite daily shopping or are where I would like to spend my lunch break or go after work. 1X a week is enough.

                                Visiting a butcher, baker or produce store or swinging by the coop or farm stand would be worth daily shopping.

                                personally I get my produce weekly through a csa, buy bulk grains and dairy at my coop bi-weekly marketplace (we don't have a brick and mortar store yet) shop the Italian or Reading Terminal market on weekends and supplement as needed from the big boxes. The kind of daily shopping Europeans do involves having the types of markets that are worth visiting daily - multiple weekly trips to big box supermarkets is a waste of time and energy - its the same crap that was there yesterday.

                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                  "The kind of daily shopping Europeans do involves having the types of markets that are worth visiting daily - multiple weekly trips to big box supermarkets is a waste of time and energy - its the same crap that was there yesterday." - That's not correct - Most of the daily shopping is done to a larger extend at supermarkets in Europe. There are still more smaller shops on average in European cities than here in the US but by far not as many as about 10-30 years ago. European supermarkets tend to have better selections of produce and meat than in the US but overall the main reason is simply the believe that daily freshly bought ingredients will make a better tasting dish (which is hard to argue against).

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    I have spent enough time living in and visiting Europe and studying cities here and there to experience how both urban development and lifestyle patterns differ in terms of consumption daily travel etc. A few examples from personal experience: the Super Co-op out side of Lugano was not a 3x a week trip for anyone it was a typical big-box mega store - and was heavily supplemented by local shopping in the villages (unfortunately our village sucked so it was really the only option)- in Siena the "supermarket" was on the scale and of the quality of a boutique high end store for an American city - yes it was an every day type of store but it was not an American style supermarket. The USAmerican lifestyle in terms of work hours, development patterns, commuting times and available retail options does not make it easy or really give any reason for MOST people to shop multiple times a week. Also as I said why bother - that crap is not any fresher on Thurs than it was on Tues - it wasn't fresh when it got to the store to begin with who know where it came from. Going to Superfresh 3x a week would just be depressing and a waste of time. Why go to Super Wal-Mart or any of the crappy big box supermarkets any more often than you absolutely have to?

                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                      I think we have to agree to disagree on the differences between European and US supermarkets (especially over the last 10 years where unfortunately many specialized shops, e.g. bakeries, butchers etc closed - the quality of the stuff you can buy in the European supermarkets tend to be higher but that is a reflection of people buying daily and not (bi)weekly and being more interested in quality). I am also tired of the often used argument that US lifestyles doesn't allow it when working hours in Europe are comparable and (assuming that often women are doing the food shopping) the employment rate of women in the US is average compared to other western countries. I think the main reason for the difference is based on the role food plays in the daily life, e.g. live to eat vs eat to live)

                                      1. re: honkman

                                        Hi honkman,

                                        < I think the main reason for the difference is based on the role food plays in the daily life, e.g. live to eat vs eat to live)>

                                        That's an easy argument, but it's a straw man, never been shown to have any basis in fact. It's one of those "truthy" things that people accept because it sounds true.

                                        Worse, it paints a picture that Americans are pigs at a trough who, during the few hours a day they're not eating spend their time planning their next meal. All while it is simultaneously making the claim that Europeans find no pleasure whatsoever in the act of eating, and only do so because it's the only way to avoid death. I find both of those assertions laughable.

                                        Europeans are known for lingering over meals that last for hours. In the USA, we eat and run, sometimes literally eating while running. If anyone lives to eat, it seems it would be Europe, doesn't it?

                                        Also note the following from a 2013 study published in The Lancet:
                                        "In high-income countries, some of the highest increases in adult obesity prevalence have been in the USA (where roughly a third of the adult population are obese), Australia (where 28% of men and 30% of women are obese), and the UK (where around a quarter of the adult population are obese)."


                                        The USA either leads or is darn close to the lead in obesity rates, that's true, but others are playing catch-up fast, and at least two of them (Australia and UK) are "other western countries."

                                        I'm just saying you need a better argument.


                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          I thought it was obvious from previous posts that I meant Europe for the "live to eat" and US for the "eat to live". And I don't think it is a weak argument as for example the percentage of salary an American spends on average is the lowest of all countries in the world.


                                          If you are really interested in something and care about it you are also willing to spend more on it. You are also willing to be more involved with it, e.g. not letting big AG taking over everything. I think this article illustrates it a bit how much the drive in the US was/is as the key driver in food politics to make food cheaper independently on quality whereas other countries don't go to this extreme and even fight against it which is again a reflection how passionate you are about food, food politics etc. Every time when I go back to family in Europe it is very apparent how much people everywhere there enjoy talking about food whereas here in the US it is a much, much smaller number


                                          1. re: honkman

                                            Europe is a pretty big, varied place. Are you comfortable speaking for all walks of life in it?

                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                              I have lived and worked for 30 years in multiple parts of Europe and made extensive travels to other countries in Europe over the years often trying to find ways to not stay in hotels but with locals. So do I know every part of life and country in Europe - No, but I would argue I have a very good, detailed overview. And one of the easiest way to start to talk to strangers was always (beside soccer) to talk about food. I tried this also at the beginning here in the US but the reactions/views were quite different.

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                It's just very strange to me, to assign a singular point of view to a wide swath of cultures and sum it up as the culture of a continent, but then again, plenty of people feel comfortable ascribing a singular way of life to Americans, too.

                                            2. re: honkman

                                              Hi honkman,

                                              <I thought it was obvious from previous posts that I meant Europe for the "live to eat" and US for the "eat to live".>

                                              No, that wasn't clear. Not to me, anyway.

                                              <You are also willing to be more involved with it, e.g. not letting big AG taking over everything.>

                                              I challenge anyone to do anything about "big AG". They've got the lobbying $$ and so they write the legislation. That's reality in these United States. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

                                              <Every time when I go back to family in Europe it is very apparent how much people everywhere there enjoy talking about food whereas here in the US it is a much, much smaller number>

                                              I believe that, yes. Here, to talk about food while not eating a meal or planning a meal is to be obsessed with food. No one wants to be around people like that. I've seen this. I've felt it.


                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                "I challenge anyone to do anything about "big AG". They've got the lobbying $$ and so they write the legislation. That's reality in these United States. I wish it weren't so, but it is." - I agree that now it is too late and one can only hope that the number of small "artisanal" businesses in the US will at least give more opportunities to choose from in many areas of the food spectrum.

                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                  << Here, to talk about food while not eating a meal or planning a meal is to be obsessed with food>>

                                                  i've been accused of that and have been berated for that.
                                                  one of the reasons i adore chowhound is that the folks here don't see it that way.

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    Hi westsidegal,

                                                    That's a big part of the appeal for me, too. No one gets judgmental when I talk about foodish things. :-)


                                    2. re: honkman

                                      Do you have a car?

                                      I don't, so it certainly makes a difference. It's just not practical to spend an hour + on foot 3-4 times per week doing shopping for 1-2 days.

                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                        I don't have a car, and never have driven (I'm a boomer, not a young person). But I do have a bicycle, and even in the worst of the winter when I don't cycle, I don't have to go terribly far to shop. However, an hour (20 min walking back and forth, 10 in the shop) is actually not a long time. Many drivers spend far more if they get stuck in traffic, even in urban areas.

                                        Yes, the article is very simplistic, and attacks only one piece in a much larger puzzle, but we have to think about these things.

                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                          It's hard to survive in Southern California without a car but I didn't have one in Europe and shopping took about an hour a day

                                          1. re: honkman

                                            Taking an hour or more after 10 hours of work + commute to shop daily is neither practical nor desirable for me.

                                            Luckily, it's also not necessary.

                                            1. re: honkman

                                              I live in north-central Montréal, near the Jean-Talon market. We also have a carshare scheme, for people who occasionally need a car to do "big shopping" or for other purposes. Friends of mine live across the street from Jean-Talon métro, just east of the market (I live a bit south of it). They have:
                                              Two métro lines, several bus lines. A taxi stand. A CommunAuto carshare stand. A Bixi bikeshare stand. Parking for bicycles.

                                              And now the métro station is putting in a lift for disabled people, parents with baby strollers, people with heavy shopping...

                                              However, I'm very jealous of the weather in Southern California. Pity about the poor planning that damaged one of the most beautiful parts of North America. It can be remediated though.

                                  2. That is a very poorly designed argument.

                                    First off, there were some extremely generous Federal rebates for trading in those old energy guzzling fridges over the last four years. If your fridge is guzzling that much energy, it would have been a good idea to take advantage of those offers.

                                    My refrigerator is filled with the good stuff. The vegetables, the huge heads of lettuce my local farmer grows, the things I pickle when the height of the season occurs. None of this makes me fat. The freezers are filled with the whole lambs and pigs I order yearly, along with homemade sausages, stocks made from carcasses, and extra meals for those nights we don't want to cook. I admit that there is one pint of vanilla ice cream in there. It is peach season after all!

                                    This is just another example of someone who has done no research spouting off based on their own habits. Not mine.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      I've read that usually when a new energy-efficient refrigerator is purchased, the old one goes to the garage or basement to be filled with beer. Not good for budgets or waistlines.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        Mine went to recycling and I got a $50 check for it because my new one was an Energy Star unit.

                                      2. re: smtucker

                                        I did some number crunching a few years ago...to buy the best energy star rated fridge, would have meant keeping it 17 years to justify the upcharge

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          dan nosowitz of the "you win" generation...can take his American guilt and stuff it

                                        2. I agree that it's a silly argument. But one point not brought up in the discussions is the idea that do we really need to refrigerate all that food? I split my time between the us and uk. In the us I have a standard American fridge, uk has a teeny teeny one that is basically useful for storing meat, wine, milk. Most of my produce stays in a cool pantry and I can tell you that there is no difference in food spoilage between the two places. I'm buying about the same and you know what, most food (maybe except beer) doesn't even taste as good ice cold.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: katnat

                                            A lot of people don't have a cool pantry.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              And if we had a pantry, it wouldn't necessarily be cool.

                                            2. re: katnat

                                              I mostly agree. When I was younger (and living outside of the USA and without a huge fridge), I'd keep many things (e.g. condiments and fresh vegetables) outside of the fridge without adverse effects.

                                              OTOH, I don't agree about the beer... IMHO, beer is best at "cool pantry" (or cool basement in my case) temperatures, rather than really cold.

                                              1. re: katnat

                                                Hi! Newbie here. Having lived in England for 3 years, I noticed that the produce in the UK doesn't go bad nearly as quickly as it does here in the US. Of course, I'm sure that is attributed to the shipping distances and storage times. I wouldn't be surprised about the possibility keeping produce outside of the fridge in the UK--especially since the weather is so cool and moist year-round! Unfortunately, it seems to be more of a necessity here in the US, particularly when dependent on produce from chain grocery stores versus farmers markets or home-grown.

                                                1. re: katnat

                                                  And the UK has a cooler climate than a significant portion of the US. I fight to keep the air temp below 80 in my house in summer.

                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                    Ironically, our weather here lately in Colorado has been a lot like that of East Anglia, where I lived (just took it 4 years to catch up with me). Not complaining though--we really needed the moisture!

                                                  2. re: katnat

                                                    Yeah, a "cool pantry" is definitely not standard-issue in apartments where I live. Nor is central AC, so other than my bedroom (with a window unit), my apartment is fairly warm and humid in the summer. Tomatoes go bad very quickly, bananas ripen almost faster than we can eat them. There's a lot I couldn't keep out.

                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                      Hi LeoLioness,

                                                      You speak true.

                                                      <Yeah, a "cool pantry" is definitely not standard-issue in apartments where I live>

                                                      I doubt that a majority of homes in the USA have anything approaching a "cool pantry".

                                                      < Nor is central AC>

                                                      In summer, very few can afford to set their AC to the 50-60º that would be needed to keep the produce like a "cool pantry". Mine is set to 80º,we run ceiling fans everyday in occupied rooms and still pay about $300/mo.
                                                      And if we can afford it, who wants to live in a walk-in fridge?

                                                      My produce reacts exactly as yours does. About 3 days is max life for tomatoes and bananas. Potatoes sprout in a week.

                                                      Now our rental home on the Kitsap peninsula in WA state... the house had a huge half-finished area of the basement that backed up to the hillside. Block walls, cool all year. Wine and veggies were very happy, and there was room for a party. But it was cold, 56º. Brrr! Yeah, I loved hosting a party wearing my down parka and snow boots.

                                                    2. re: katnat

                                                      "But one point not brought up in the discussions is the idea that do we really need to refrigerate all that food?"

                                                      This is actually one of the things I found most annoying in the Gawker article. Why is he "informing" us that onions, potatoes, and garlic don't need to be refrigerated? Who in the hell refrigerates onions, potatoes, or garlic? And while many vinegar-heavy hot sauces don't need to be refrigerated, some of the more fresh green chile/herb ones do. Oh, and this howler:

                                                      "the only things in your fridge should be stuff you plan to eat immediately and maybe a few jars of preserves and condiments and sauces."

                                                      This must be a guy who doesn't cook much. I've got three kinds of Thai curry paste, three kinds of miso, five kinds of Better Than Bouillon, four kinds of jams, fermented black beans, two kinds of salsa, yogurt, butter, sour cream, cream fraiche, two kinds of pesto, etc. etc. etc. All of which we use to prepare the ingredients we shop for frequently. Not even getting into the homemade stock and herb ice cubes and similar things in the freezer. Geez. The fridge is just part of the pantry. If you don't have a good pantry selection it's harder to make anything worth eating with your fresh seasonal ingredients.

                                                    3. Wow.
                                                      I have 3 freezers (2 uprights, 1 chest) and 3 fridges ( okay, one is for wine and chocolate, pet meds and cool beverages)..I am considering another big fridge for just condiments and produce.... and we are thin......

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                        Ok I'm impressed. 3 each! We've been discussing getting a second freezer, I need more room to buy rat food in bulk and store it and my hubby needs more room for his game meats.

                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                          I know! Crazy. Three!

                                                          Well, one is the side by side in the kitchen and I *hate* the small freezer section, it is useless! Those damn things must be designed only for cans of orange juice, ice cream and frozen dinners ( I don't use any of those things). Useless for anything else.

                                                          The other is an upright freezer (in the wine room) for prepped items, garden produce, homemade items ( compound butters, pesto, freezer jams, stocks, etc)...my personal grocery store.

                                                          The third, is a chest freezer exclusively for meat in the barn.

                                                          Seriously, it is not excessive. We use it all! But I make breakfast, lunch,dinners and snacks. I don't buy much processed or prepared food at all.I think if you only cook simple foods, you wouldn't need it. But if you use 10 to 15 ingredients just at dinner, or love to cook a variety of cuisines, it is surprising how much storage you need. Or...at least I need it, lol.

                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                            Oh I hear you. We eat out maybe a handful of times a year now. I have a lot of staple things in my freezer including a bunch of garden produce. Plus we feed the dogs and cats prey model raw. We have a 20 cu ft chest freezer, but I'd love to add an upright and replace the garage fridge with a fridge without a freezer. The fridge out there has issues.

                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                              Oh lord. Pet food.....frozen slabs of raw liver, marrow bones, ground meats......takes up a whole shelf in my kitchen freezer.

                                                            2. re: sedimental

                                                              "Seriously, it is not excessive."

                                                              You sound like me justifying a bar tab to myself.

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                Ha! You are so right!

                                                                The word "excessive" just doesn't belong in the same sentence as "ingredients" or "adult beverages" in my world :)

                                                            3. re: rasputina

                                                              "rat food in bulk"

                                                              What? what do you feed them? I've always fed mine a combo of seed/block rat mixtures and our own (rat-appropriate) human food leftovers. What rat food needs to be in the freezer?

                                                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                Have you seen the prices on lab blocks lately? It's doubled in the last 6 months. I can buy 1 bag of lab blocks for 50 bucks or I can get 5 bags for 100 dollars. We store them in the freezer to extend shelf life. We also feed fresh foods but those aren't a storage problem.

                                                          2. And here we have another article telling us how bad Americans are compared to the rest of the world. Well, I've got news for Gawker. All of my kitchen appliances are foreign-made. Sure, my fridge is a 24-footer. But it's made by LG in Korea. So who's to blame? My current sub-compact car is German, so was it's predecessor, a small roadster. So I know for a fact that other countries can manufacture small things. Apparently, they're even making small fridges for other countries. Yet all of a sudden it's *MY* fault my fridge is so honking huge?

                                                            I do have a refrigerator made here in the U.S.A. that is monstrous huge. It's a wine chiller and holds ~500 bottles. It's roughly the same dimensions as a 5' closet. I know because one of them fit perfectly into a 5' closet once. Yet Gawker doesn't care about how often I shop for wine, nor all the electricity this monster is using. And they're also not blaming the wine for making me fat. Note - I've got an empty one in the garage if anyone is in need of storage for 500 bottles of wine.

                                                            To recap - I've got a beef with Gawker's title. It's NOT my American Refrigerator that's making me fat. It's my Korean fridge. Talk about your misdirected anger!

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                              damn! you are in Fla. Too far for me. I have been scouring craigs and free cycle for a big wine fridge….

                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                Amazon's building a shipping facility here in Tampa....maybe we can get them to ship it out, Prime. ;-)

                                                                I have seen them show up on Craigslist from time to time. Keep looking.

                                                              2. re: DuffyH

                                                                Idea for a new article! Your wine fridge is making you drunk and stupid....

                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                  Oh, tcamp, that particular vessel left the wharf long ago. In a rather murky past.

                                                                2. re: DuffyH

                                                                  That's because it is an American article. Articles written in European countries about consumer and environmental issues target their own populations.

                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                    Silly me. I was thinking it's because it's a Gawker article.

                                                                3. not a direct answer to your question, but

                                                                  a few months ago, on (i believe) the chowhound home cooking board, i raised the idea that one doesn't really "save" by buying a dedicated freezer and buying a half of a cow at a time if you consider the energy costs, the square footage costs, the work involved in properly organizing the freezer and rotating the contents, the additional effort and time that has to be dedicated to meal planning/preparation, the degradation of the food, and the waste associated with this pursuit.

                                                                  i was roundly attacked by all.

                                                                  it seems like this proposition is not one that most people will really look at.
                                                                  if you add the points in the gawker article to my points, having these huge dedicated freezers make even less sense.
                                                                  (iirc, there is a thread up now started by a person who has discovered that the freezer full of three year old meat in the dedicated freezer now has freezer burn and tastes awful)

                                                                  the only conclusion i can draw is that there is some strange emotional thing in play here that absolutely mystifies me. i think many people get some emotional comfort from having tremendous amounts of food available at all times.

                                                                  24 Replies
                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                    I agree that the economics are likely not as attractive as most people think because of the cost of electricity. But a large freezer might make economic sense for an elk hunter, who gets a lot of meat at once. Freezer burn can be minimized.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                      A separate freezer would make more sense for a hunter than a huge fridge. I know several people in the countryside who have a freezer or even two for frozen produce and game. They are more energy efficient than a large fridge.

                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                        it "might make some sense" for
                                                                        a) an elk hunter (as this supports the hunter's "recreational activity" of going out to kill animals as well as providing some food.
                                                                        b) someone who views the entire undertaking as part of their chosen creative outlet (which it sounds like many on this board do)
                                                                        c) people who don't taste the difference
                                                                        d) folks who LIKE to clean and reorganize (i.e. my friend's mom completely empties and cleans every cupboard and closet in her house at least 4 times a year in addition to completely reorganizing and cleaning her fridge/freezer/garage. to her this is a fun pastime. to me, this is hugely tedious)
                                                                        e) people who don't live near easy sources of fresh, high-quality food that can reasonably/conveniently be purchased in small quantities on an as-needed basis.
                                                                        f) people who don't value their time very highly.
                                                                        g) people who are indifferent to what cut of what animal they eat for dinner. that way if what's left in the freezer is 10 lb of ground beef, they won't feel like they are "forced" to eat ground beef meal after meal to make the whole undertaking "worth it."
                                                                        h) and others

                                                                        i'm not saying that it makes no sense for anyone.

                                                                        i'm just saying that it is not universally, automatically, a huge "savings" especially if your own time is valued (as those of us who have worked on a "billable hour" basis or who have worked on a commission basis are prone to do) right now, i'm waiting for the appliance repair guy to come for the clothes washer. all appliances eventually break/need replacement, need cleaning, etc. the freezers that are most energy efficient are not the old indestructible ones, they are the new ones with digital components that are costly to repair)
                                                                        also, in my city energy costs are increasing year after year.
                                                                        the "rent" value of the space taken up by the freezer increases year after year. in the past i have rented out portions of my garage to neighbors to store their jet skis and trailer gizmos. having a freezer would necessarily "cost me" that income.
                                                                        the subjective AND objective value of my time increases year after year.

                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                          Oh, they would make no sense for me whatsoever. I have a 10 cubic ft. fridge, and it is far from full. But I also live in a major city, and deliberately live in a location that is close to good, nutritious shopping (Jean-Talon market, also Italian, Maghrebi, East, Souteast and South Asian shops, 3 chain supermarkets all walkable - I don't mean all next door - I also use "destinations" as reasons to walk half an hour and back in the wintertime, when I have time to).

                                                                          I agree with you about the annoyance of waiting when it is keeping one from work, but don't think we can really "bill" our hours of cookery, or we'd never do it.

                                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                                            you're right, we don't "bill" them, but i am certainly aware of the ratio of time spent to money saved and the ratio of time spent to pleasure that results therefrom.

                                                                            when you start to really assign some value to your time and look at "what you get" for expending time, the analysis can look very different than when you value your time as ZERO.

                                                                            similar situation for the space used. in a suburban situation like mine, that garage space is valuable, either to me or as a rental to someone else. i guess if i lived in a low-real-estate-value place, where everyone has big, cheap, houses with huge garages and basements and reliable, consistently cheap electric rates, it would be a different story.

                                                                          2. re: westsidegal

                                                                            I guess I have a hard time factoring just how much time is expended to keep an extra freezer.

                                                                            Regarding B/D- I don't spend more than 2 hours a YEAR sorting/organizing my freezer and I generously assigned a $25 hourly rate to my time. I sure as hell don't make that cleaning the toilets, doing the laundry, making the beds and other household duties. It would cost me MORE to pay someone else to do those things, the same way it would cost MORE to buy the the same quality of food. Obviously I am not so wealthy that what I make could pay a housekeeper and still pay all the bills, LOL.

                                                                            Then I like factor in the number of times I spent *less* time making dinner, running to the store or getting take out because I have a container of soup or a tray of lasagna in the fridge. Making double batches doesn't take any more time. Buying in bulk to cook double cost less. In essence I probably get the storage/sorting time back over the year, in essence paying me back for those 2 hours invested. For point C-I guess if I kept things in the deep freeze for months on end to the point they were freezer burned I might feel differently but I can't taste the difference with vacu-sealeda and/or properly stored food. But you do make me want to do a blind taste test! My poor family…

                                                                            I live in 260+ year old farmhouse with a dirt floor/unfinished basement in an unfortunately not so low-real-estate-value place. Yet there is little value to that basement. It holds the water heater, oil drum, the freezer and bunch of wine/wine racks. There is zero rental value in the space even for storage. You can't store anything of value like clothes, electronics, books, papers etc with out investing a significant amount of money to create a water tight, vermin proof environment. I am not losing any money by taking up the space. I am actual jealous you can make money that way! Do you have to carry extra insurance? Curious what would happen if you had flood/fire and your neighbors jet skis and the like were destroyed?

                                                                            You do bring up an interesting point with point G. The first year we got a cow share I didn't do a good job in the butchering and found myself with too many roasts so there were times I was like "ugh another roast!" but even so it was never a matter of eating roasts day after day. If you are good meal planner you factor those things in. However after a few conversations with the farmer and butcher I learned different way to butcher and how to turn roasts into shaved steaks, cube and swiss steak. I also figured better way to cut steaks, package ground beef. Even if I spent 2-3 hours on this endeavor the time investment was worth the return.

                                                                            Bottom line is I am frugal but I like good food. This is a great way to satisfy both.

                                                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                                                          We have the big upright freezer you are referring to, and yes there are costs and work associated with it. From your prior posts, it appears you prefer to eat out or cook from fresh only (Not a personal attack, just a perceived brief summary of food style)

                                                                          I wish I could eat out as much as you do. But due to a kiddo's food allergy, the investment of a freezer full of foods she can eat is worth the time and expense for us. I have created a mini grocery store I can shop from at a moments notice and create a relatively inexpensive meal with what I have in the house. Different strategies work for different needs

                                                                          1. re: autumm

                                                                            i'd do the same thing if my kid had a food allergy.
                                                                            in that case, i could see it being "worth the time and expense."

                                                                          2. re: westsidegal

                                                                            You make some good points but I will add that IMO a single fridge/freezer appliance in the kitchen, which is what I have, doesn't hold a "tremendous amount of food" considering 4 eaters, 2 of whom are teen boys active in sports.

                                                                            My weekly farm share fills up the two veggie bins on Saturday and then we eat it all up so that the following week the bins are empty. I am continually amazed at how much food we consume!

                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                              So here is my math. Every year I buy two lambs... I get the whole lamb including cuts that are not available at a standard supermarket, but might be available from my local-source butcher.

                                                                              I pay $3.50 per pound for this lamb plus the cost of butchering, for a grand total of $3.61 per pound. This lamb is pasture raised, enjoys hanging out with his buddies, is given free range of the farm, and then feeds my family.

                                                                              At the local-source butcher, the only place that I know that sells pasture raised animals, the "cheap" cuts start at $16.00 per pound. The "quality" cuts can be as high as $29, and sometimes higher. Since they sell whole animals, they don't butcher until the original animal has been completely sold, so I never know what cuts might be available. My freezer costs me $2.75 a month to run during the summer, less during the winter. I don't pay extra for the space that the freezer uses since I own the whole house either way.

                                                                              So, two lambs from the farm directly, stored in my own freezer costs me $610.60 per year [overestimating the electricity, not accounting for any mortgage costs] while buying from my local-source butcher, if I average to $20/lb, would be $3,200 per year.

                                                                              But the best part is, the meat is fabulous!

                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                Great minds think a like! I just came on to post this:

                                                                                WSG- very interesting points. We starting buying half a cow because we wanted the highest quality meat we could be buy. What we eat and what our child eats is very important to us yet the cost of good, local, grass fed beef was astronomical so it took up a lot of our budget. When given an opportunity to get meat that we felt good about we jumped at the chance.

                                                                                So, curious to see if I had some “strange emotional thing” about doing so I broke it down to see if I was truly getting a value or not. For this exercise I took the cost associated this year. However when we bought the freezer 3 years ago the cost of a half cow was about 20% less.

                                                                                1) One time cost of freezer $199
                                                                                2) Cost to operate freezer per year: $30
                                                                                3) Sq Footage: $0
                                                                                We have unfinished basement so did not lose any living space
                                                                                4) Time to organize: $50
                                                                                Assumed 2 hours at $25 an hour
                                                                                5) Rotate contents: $0
                                                                                I don’t do this except when I organize twice a year
                                                                                6) Meal planning: $0
                                                                                I have always meal planned and I actually spend LESS time meal planning knowing at least 3 meals a week will come from the cow
                                                                                7) Degradation: $28.75
                                                                                We have not noticed any as we go thru the cow in a year but for the sake of this exercise I assumed 5% of the cost of the cow
                                                                                8) Cost of cow: $475
                                                                                9) Transportation cost: $ 100 (gas. Wear tear on car, etc)
                                                                                TOTAL COST including one cost of freezer: $882.75, cost per pound of meat $5.04
                                                                                TOTAL COST after initial purchase of freezer: $683.75, cost per pound of meat $3.91

                                                                                Most local farms sell their ground beef for $6.99 on average-no sales
                                                                                The local Stop and Shop flyer has organic grass fed ground beef on sale for $5.99 this week
                                                                                WF varies between $6.99 and $8.99 LB for organic, grass fed ground beef

                                                                                Bottom line, assuming I only use the freezer for the cow , even with the initial purchase cost of the freezer I am saving over $1.00 per lb on GROUND BEEF. Keep in mind that I also get T-bones, fillets, flank steak, roasts, rib eyes etc. The added value is I know the farm, the farmer, the butcher and the cows and my son sees where our food comes from. And none of this take into consideration that I can buy the food we eat lots of in bulk and save money.

                                                                                Are there people out there who fill their freezer and forget? Sure. Have I occasionally stuck some stuff into the chest freezer only to discover it during my twice yearly clean/organization of the chest freezer? You bet but I think I could count on hand what I have had to throw away in the last couple of years.

                                                                                Again, only my POV, everyone else’s MMV. But I have to thank you for having me do this. I feel much better about laying out that initial investment of $575 a year to buy the cow as much as it pains me to write that check!

                                                                                1. re: foodieX2


                                                                                  Your experience with a side of beef very much mirrors mine, right down the line, even though we only bought a ¼ cow for our family of three. I had been buying ordinary USDA Select/Choice beef at the closest commissary in Virginia, and, for special occasions, Prime steaks from a local shop.

                                                                                  Even given the extremely under-priced beef at the commissary in the mid-90's, we saved money on the ¼ cow, although we did end up paying slightly more for ground beef. This was more than offset by the savings on other cuts. We derived two benefits, as well. We saved gas by making fewer trips to the commissary, and we got better beef in the bargain.

                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                    Absolutely on all points. I buy a quarter or side of beef and lots of specialty cuts and preps of buffalo ( that does not exists in a store) saving *hundreds* and hundreds of dollars per year.

                                                                                    Properly stored in the freezer, there is no discernible difference in taste according to taste test experiments ( and chowhound threads on this topic).

                                                                                    Also, if you live on acreage (as I do) it is the only way to store fresh picked freezable produce. Produce is not that fresh in a grocery store. I love always having a huge variety of quality food whenever I want it.

                                                                                    I also love to cook and don't consider my time cooking as a chore or wasted time. I view my freezers and fridges as supporting my habit :)

                                                                                2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                  Additional work and effort. I haven't found it to be strenuous.

                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                    Hi westsidegal,

                                                                                    <i think many people get some emotional comfort from having tremendous amounts of food available at all times.>

                                                                                    I know my mother and her sibs always felt better having vast quantities of food around. To their credit, a lot of it was canned or frozen from their gardens or livestock pens. But still. Mom says it's because they didn't have enough to eat as kids during the depression.

                                                                                    Mom has tried to get me to can jam (we hardly ever eat jam), beets (she loves them, we hate them), and other things. She also bemoans my practice of cooking small roasts instead of large ones. Leftovers (and the fridge and freezer space to store them) are a big thing for her.

                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                      I think a lot of oldsters have the same sentiments.

                                                                                      As for me....I just get emotional about not having enough fresh chopped culantro when seasoning a vietnamese soup in February- or not being able to get fresh picked organic blackberries in December, or not wanting to pay the market price for wild mushrooms out of season.....my freezers allow me do what I want, when I want.
                                                                                      However, knowing what to store and how to store it takes some considerable experience. That is really different that freezing cooked "casseroles" or hunks of cooked meat as my grandma did. Bleach. My mom used to freeze things too...before vacuum sealers... and they turned out pretty gross a lot of the time

                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                        " or not being able to get fresh picked organic blackberries in December, or not wanting to pay the market price for wild mushrooms out of season.....my freezers allow me do what I want, when I want." - But with significant diminished quality. Even if one is experienced in freezing stuff it will never taste similar to truly freshly picked blackberries etc.

                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                          Do you believe in preserving foods in general? Canning, fermenting, etc.? Do you think all of it diminishes taste and quality, or do you just feel this way about refrigeration/freezing?

                                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                            Every manipulation of an ingredient will have an effect on the taste and texture of the ingredient and so depending on what the final result of a dish should look like canning, fermenting can be beneficial. But particular freezing has the problem to be influenced by some properties of water (major part of most ingredients) which even with modern freezers/fridges will have an impact on the quality of the ingredients during freezing and thawing.

                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                              It really depends on it's end use. I find the quality of frozen fruits and berries much better when making smoothies. Frozen blueberries also make superior muffins and pancakes, IMHO.

                                                                                              Living in New England I also find the quality of many frozen fruits and veggies much better in the winter than those trucked in from warmer climates. I'll take my own frozen just picked local peaches overs the mealy fresh ones found in my supermarket in Feb.

                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                Since I live in Montréal, I certainly agree that a lot of frozen vegetables etc are much better than the non-fresh fresh ones, in the wintertime. But I don't really know what to do with them, as I don't eat smoothies (I hate "gloppy" foods)or do sweet baking. Right now I'm revelling in the fresh wild blueberries; I'm sure you'll agree that they are among the most heavenly foods in Northeastern North America.

                                                                                            2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                              The fresh cherries I bought recently at the grocery store had a pack date a month prior. Yea, I'm sure they are so much fresher.

                                                                                              1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                Yes, or buying "fresh strawberries" in a pint tub at the store and finding several moldy ones at the bottom :(

                                                                                                Mmmmm....not so fresh.

                                                                                            3. re: honkman

                                                                                              Well, I don't know about you, but I don't often just eat blackberries all by themselves (unless I am munching them directly off the brambles). A peach- yes, blackberries- no. I put them in things, over things, on things. No problem with quality. Far, far superior than anything in the grocery store. However, I get to enjoy fresh tasting blackberries all year long by flash freezing them individually and storing them frozen. They are perfect for how I use them and my fresh frozen berries are far superior in taste and texture compared to store bought *fresh* berries...which are usually tasteless, and often many days old(at least)IMO.

                                                                                      2. I think one thing not discussed so far is that dishes or ingredients (e.g. meat etc) from a freezer never taste as good as freshly made stuff. You can always recognize if something comes out of a freezer.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                          actually, honkman, not only are you correct, but wolfgang puck testified in front of congress to that effect.
                                                                                          of COURSE, the stuff tastes different.
                                                                                          congress, was in the process of allowing chickens that were frozen hard as a rock to be sold as "fresh"

                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                            Congress was in the process of doing anything? Well, I'll be damned.

                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                              I'm pretty sure it was a different congress. Probably from the first Bush or the Clinton administrations. Back when legislating was fashionable.

                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                well, this was legislating to benefit companies such as tysons, purdue, fosters farm.

                                                                                            2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                              Your account is inaccurate. USDA rules adopted in 1959 allowed chickens to be shipped frozen, then thawed and sold as "fresh." Congressional hearings (at which Puck testified) encouraged the USDA to revise the rules to require that such chicken be labeled "previously frozen." "Fresh" chicken cannot now have been previously frozen.


                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                your memory of a ten year old LA Times article is superior to mine.
                                                                                                hat's off.

                                                                                          2. Obviously, it is only one out of many factors, but those giant fridges are also an absurdity in terms of energy (mis)use. After studying in Italy, I lived for many years here in Montréal with a counterheight fridge; the equivalent of a (larger) bar or university residence fridge. It was dying, and I did change it for a 10 cubic ft model; not because I needed much more fridge, but because the freezer on the tiny one was not adequate, and I have been freezing more portions of meals I cook at home, as well as making sure that I have some frozen fish, and frozen vegetables in the wintertime.

                                                                                            An empty fridge screams poverty, so people are inclined to fill them up. This means waste for most households.

                                                                                            Of course, I live in a central (but not "downtown") neighbourhood of a major city, and deliberately live close to Jean-Talon market, one of the largest public markets in North America. Obviously, the needs of a rural household will be different, but the major difference I've observed among rural households I know is the presence of a separate freezer, not of a larger fridge.

                                                                                            1. Yawn. your car is making you fat and poor. You don't carry 50lbs of groceries home on your back, do you?

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                Actually, I carry a surprising amount of groceries in my Dutch bicycle bags. I'd have no need of 50lb at a time - that would make me very fat and destitute in any case!

                                                                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                  You bike -- how far? I meant walking 50lbs home (it's a couple miles). as you might could tell, I don't shop that often.

                                                                                              2. I shop for and buy food and/or drink on a near daily basis. My fridge is basically never full (unless you count the shelf on the door packed with hot sauces). I cook a lot - I store and plan very little.

                                                                                                1. Really, they are comparing laptops to fridges? Where is the roll eyes smilie?

                                                                                                  Not everyone lives in an urban environment that makes daily shopping convenient. So they want to me to shop daily, which means me driving at least 20 miles round trip to the nearest actual grocery store. I don't think so.

                                                                                                  More stupidity from people that can't think outside their own little lives.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                    I don't think Chow supports emoticons or the new Emojis; the best we can do is :::roll eyes:::

                                                                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                      My sister is in this exact same situation. She lives out in the country and it takes awhile to get to the grocery store. Every year they buy a cow at the county livestock show and keep it in their freezer, as well as venison that may have been procured that year (I think they usually make sausage with it). She is a busy mom of 3 young girls, they are busy with horse and pig 4-H projects, and still does some engineering consulting because her company doesn't want to let her go completely. Too busy to zip to the store everyday!!! She, however, wouldn't be one to post on Chowhound--she cooks simply and as efficiently as she can, but does appreciate the taste of good food. I, however, live in town, don't have the extra freezer, and can just zip down the street to a grocery store. Different strokes and all that!

                                                                                                    2. I wanted to thank you for posting this.

                                                                                                      It's a thought-provoking, perhaps even inflammatory, article title. I assume the author got an A in Journalism 101.

                                                                                                      Of course the reality is that there are ~many~ factors that contribute to US obesity.

                                                                                                      I would probably blame our country's health woes more on the easy/cheap availability of cars and of gasoline.

                                                                                                      People who toil all day in dirt, row all day in the sea, and walk miles for foods they cannot harvest, are rarely obese.

                                                                                                      1. Interesting article. I think for many Americans, yes, their fridge can contribute to their obesity. But that's more indicative of their mindset and less of the fridge itself. For my family, it helps us to eat better. My husband and I both have very busy careers, so we often make several meals on the weekends and refrigerate them so we can reheat them during the week. Our fridge, while standard American size and not the extra large models on the market today, allows us to prep salads, wraps, and other healthy lunches, and dinners full of veggies and lean proteins to grab and go during the week. Not to mention healthy snacks like low fat cheese and yogurt, pre-cut veggies and fruit, etc. I would love to be able to shop several times a week, but we live in a rural area and driving 20 minutes to the grocery store a few times a week just isn't feasible.

                                                                                                        1. I can see this might be true for some families. Among relatives and friends, I know a few food hoarder types who are all overweight. These folks don't live in rural areas or have any kind of budgetary issues or farms.

                                                                                                          The fridge (and even a second fridge) are stuffed, the cabinets are stuffed, lots of food goes bad. There's candy on the counter, bags of chips in the TV room, snacks in the cars. There's endless variety for eats, and when you have endless variety (including a lot of unhealthy choices) you'll likely overeat.

                                                                                                          1. I'm neither fat nor poor, and I have a big fridge. Go figure.

                                                                                                            1. This article is just plain silly. It does not factor in many different lifestyles other than somebody living in an urban environment, or at least someplace semi-close to a store. Some people don't do the daily commute. Driving to the store three or more times a week would surely burn much more fuel than running my one refrigerator with side-by-side freezer(it came with the house I hate it though.) and large upright handme down freezer in our garage. My family and I live in a semi rural environment making a round-trip to the nearest grocery 25 minutes.
                                                                                                              Also, we get our food from other places than a grocery store. We only eat grass fed beef, pastured pork and chickens, and sustainably sourced seafood. We order this from a farm that has several pick up points in our area. So even though the meat is frozen, it is much better quality than anything I could find at my nearest grocery. I try to stay away from factory farmed meat as much as possible. I personally have never had a problem with 3+ year old meat being found in my freezer. Sure sometimes mistakes are made but if you plan your meals and order as much as you need until the next pick up, it isn't much of an issue.
                                                                                                              So, having extra space for food enables our family to eat healthier, is better for the environment and lives of the animals which we use for meat and enables us to have some frozen vegetables from our garden out of season.
                                                                                                              It makes no sense to blame a tool, it is in how you use it. I'm tired of articles trying to lump all Americans together. This is a huge and diverse country, and not everybody is addicted to Twinkies and hot pockets :)

                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: NattyP

                                                                                                                But most people do live in cities and suburbs. I know people in rural areas need freezers and larger fridges, and it will be hard to do away with private motor vehicles there, but environmental efforts have to centre on the planning errors where most people live. Including misused and badly designed tools.

                                                                                                                And these errors are certainly not limited to the US.

                                                                                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                  Well, are we better off to drive to the store several times per week, or keep a larger fridge? I would wager that the latter is the clear energy winner by a mile. It is much more economical, too, what with weekly BOGOs becoming so popular.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                    Better to walk to the store. But if we all did that, the American economy would collapse in a week.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                        Get an isothermic bag. Add an ice pack if needed.

                                                                                                                        1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                          I don't think you understand how most 'burbs are laid out. I've lived in suburbia most of my life, and the closest store was 2 miles away. Most of them were closer to 5 miles. My son's family lives IN our development, 1.5 miles away. The nearest grocery store is a 35 minute walk, each way. Now I'll grant you that Florida has some big subdivisions, but mine is pretty normal size in all the states I've lived, coast to coast.

                                                                                                                          Anyway, it's summer in Tampa and it's 90º most days. By the time I haul my sweaty, panting ass into the store, that ice pack will be mush. Like I said, my ice cream will melt.

                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                            Of course I understand the dreadful, ecocidal way most suburbs in North America (except the oldest ones) are laid out. That is utterly ghastly.

                                                                                                                            And it is just as ghastly in cold places like Alberta. It is a planning error that will lead to environmental destruction.

                                                                                                                            I most certainly undertand that. I'm not an ignorant person.

                                                                                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                              You have enough freezer space to buy ice cream once a month, surely? I drive to the store for that.

                                                                                                                              And I walk 35 minutes with 50lbs of groceries on my back. Won't kill ya (get some water at the store, you've got a ton more humidity than I do).

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                Hi Chowrin,

                                                                                                                                Thanks to you, this has wandered off my question. I asked if we were better off to drive to the store several times per week or keep a larger fridge. Your answer was "walk."

                                                                                                                                Don't you think that's rather like answering the "boxers or briefs?" question with "string bikini"? It's an alternative, sure, but it doesn't answer the question at hand.

                                                                                                                2. Thoughts ?

                                                                                                                  Yes, as this article is meant to provoke a reaction. I'll take the bait and offer a few comments.

                                                                                                                  The fast-food-nation lifestyle is the problem, not the refrigerator.

                                                                                                                  1. US-Style Refrigerators are quite normal in Europe today. The small shipping carton-sized refrigerator once highly coveted in the DDR, is gone, along with the DDR.

                                                                                                                  The small size of European kitchens is usually what determines the size-choice of a refrigerator. Notice that cramped tight space for the corner fridge in the photo ? Do you think the fridge even opens all the way ? And that was the DDR-Soviet bloc ideal of a modern kitchen too, including the ultra-modern TV about to be knocked off the countertop, when opening the fridge door.

                                                                                                                  It is about existing space. If you can afford to expand and remodel, you do, which includes a modern " American style " kitchen, using European materials and appliances.

                                                                                                                  2. Have you any idea of the price of petrol, gas, or diesel in Europe, let alone North America recently ? Driving to the market daily will add up to that supposed savings in less than 1 month. Not all of us live in a major metropolis, with a corner " convenience " store, with elevated prices ( the hidden true cost for that convenience ) added to every item in that store.

                                                                                                                  I suppose you might suggest one simply skateboard down to the market daily a few 28 km away, but the return trip, uphill loaded with cloth bags full of groceries would, at best be amusing for the neighbours. Sorry, but no.

                                                                                                                  3. What about consideration of those living on the 2nd, 3rd, and 30th floor ? Many buildings do not have elevators for the first 3 floors. Should those residents, renters, and owners then be forced to shop more frequently to offset the larger refrigerator purchase ? An osteopath might disagree with that premise.

                                                                                                                  4. With Nr. 3 in mind, what about the elderly, in-firmed, and handicapped ? Should they not be allowed to shop less frequently ? What if they cannot afford a daily grocery delivery fee ?

                                                                                                                  6. Spoilage: We buy bulk vegetables, meat, fish, and we bake our own bread. All of this, bread included, is itemized and stored in our refrigerator. The breadbox of old remains in use for some, but bread stored in a refrigerator lasts longer, and does not mold as fast. Ours was donated years ago.

                                                                                                                  A larger refrigerator and freezer saves more, if one is judicious with the purchases. And if one remembers and uses what is stored there, and the date it was stored or frozen to avoid the inevitable " What is this green/blue/rainbow meat I just found ? "

                                                                                                                  None of the above is true, or applies if one accepts the reality of the " McD TB, Jack, or KFC " lifestyle, a real and growing problem of choice and self-control. Especially valid if your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator are stuffed with " junk food. "

                                                                                                                  You can own all the wonderful new glossy expensive kitchen appliances in the world that would make any homeowner proud, but if you come home tired after a 10-13 hour workday, plus the commute, and stand or sit in the kitchen eating only a Big Mac, neither your lifestyle or your kitchen is performing for you.

                                                                                                                  Which includes your refrigerator, large or small.

                                                                                                                  We would rather come home, change, take something out of our large American-style freezer and fridge, and wok a healthy meal up in 5 minutes or so, on induction.

                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                    Looks like that thing opens from the left...do you have to do the fridge shimmy dance to get in there?

                                                                                                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                      My thoughts exactly.

                                                                                                                      This being the former DDR, it probably was guaranteed not to open or work, without a Stasi or Vopo nearby.

                                                                                                                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                          DDR, I missed that from your orig...looks good for DDR!

                                                                                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                            I also think that kitchen looks remarkably nice for DDR standards, except for the odd door that would be nearly impossible to open.

                                                                                                                        2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                          Maybe its the calories they burn doing the fridge shimmy dance that keeps them thin.

                                                                                                                        3. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                          Hey Rob?

                                                                                                                          My 28km skateboard trip to the market? It's uphill BOTH ways. ;-)


                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                            Hi Duffy -

                                                                                                                            Hey, there's an idea.

                                                                                                                            1.) I note that Mr. "Dude" as he is affectionately known, is a really great photographer.

                                                                                                                            2.) Lets have Mr. "Dude" first switch the snappy from photo to video, and have him video you on Le Skate-board to the market and back with a weeks' worth of groceries. Up hill, or down hill, the choice is yours.

                                                                                                                            That with some good background music would no doubt be a Youtube video gone viral !

                                                                                                                            3.) Add a good dance step or two along the way, or in the market, like Kim Jon Un.


                                                                                                                            Duffy, The world awaits !!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                              Rob, you are one twisted man. Does Mrs. SWISSAIRE know this about you?

                                                                                                                              The world will have to wait in the ER, it's for sure that's where they'll find me, getting X-rayed and stitched up after my 30 seconds of infamy. 10 of them will be airborne.


                                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                She who must be obeyed does indeed.

                                                                                                                                In fact, it was she who passed an edict restricting any further kitchen or household photos online with the exception of our antique hutch.

                                                                                                                                Her reasoning which later made sense to me is that too many household photos contravened our security alarm system.

                                                                                                                                Sorry to hear no video is forthcoming. At 01:30 AM, I'm just crushed.



                                                                                                                          2. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                            Skateboard? There are things called bicycles, and if you are a bit elderly with joint or cardiac problems, it can have an electric assist for hills. Those are subsidized for the appropriate populations in several places.

                                                                                                                            I do shop a bit, pretty much every day. Sometimes I have to work extremely long hours on a rush job, but there is always enough food on hand that I won't go hungry or have to eat crap.

                                                                                                                            Since I cycle to shop, I shop at many places (nearby) and pick up weekly promo specials.

                                                                                                                            Very frail elderly people who can't drive, cycle, or even walk very much, benefit from delivery services at supermarkets and other food businesses. Remember, they don't usually eat very much. The challenge is to get nutrition and good taste in modest portions.

                                                                                                                          3. There's a recent Daily Show segment about writing headlines, Gawker style. This article is a good example.

                                                                                                                            1. A consumerist economy that caters to people making long commutes to car-oriented suburbia is what makes Americans fat. Your giant American refrigerator is just one of the things that makes that lifestyle easier.

                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                Western Europeans are wealthy, and in a sense have as much a consumeristic economy as anywhere in North America or other wealthy places or places where there is a lot of wealth. I do think many of those countries have better planning. That does not mean they are not "capitalist". The Dutch practically invented commercial capitalism, but they also have gold standard urbanism.

                                                                                                                                Yes, the giant fridge is not the root of the problem. At most, it is a symptom.

                                                                                                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                  Western Europeans aren't nearly as wealthy as Americans. Our system would not work there.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                    It depends how you define wealth - US has the highest average salary but at the same time by far the highest poverty rate of all western countries. I would argue that there are more rich Americans than compared to other western countries but available money for the "average"/middle class citizen is quite comparable in the US and other western countries

                                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                        Most Americans have mortgages. That puts them in debt.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                          Measures of wealth take debt into account. The interesting number in that table is that the US is tenth (last) in the rate of increase in wealth. We (in the US) are behind Western Europe in average wealth and falling farther behind. The notion that the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth, as is sometimes said, is a fiction.

                                                                                                                                2. way WAY Back in the good old days - just out of college, living in DC, bikini thin - i worked in a hospital lab. Lots of running around the hospital. And then I'd take the bus MOST of the way home, getting off about a mile away so that i could make a quick stop at the grocery store for dinner supplies and whatever i needed to make lunch and breakfast for the next day. And then I'd walk home. Never had much in my frig. Controlled my weight. Was very healthy.

                                                                                                                                  And now - long commute in the car, with no mile walk at the end of the day. longer days sitting at a desk. and i haven't been to the grocery store in 3 and a half weeks.

                                                                                                                                  1. I am thin and cook everything from scratch, and I'm really glad that I have a normal (American) fridge. I keep all of my spices on the top shelf, along with some live yeast, and usually whatever ingredients I need to keep for a recipe so my husband doesn't eat them. We have gourmet cheeses, cream, buttermilk, milk & yogurt, all eaten very much in moderation, but those take space. There's red velvet cupcakes in there at the moment, but that doesn't mean we're eating them nonstop. And then all of our homecooked leftovers are on the main/bottom shelf. Between the water bottles and beer there too, it feels pretty full, and there's only two of us! Yes, oversized portions will usually cause weight gain, but that's definitely not correlated to the size of your fridge! And of course these days we tend to eat a lot of different cuisines, so we have more condiments - right now on the door I have the Asian ones (chili garlic sauces, oyster sauce, soy sauce, etc) plus the Italian ingredients (sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies) and the Latin ones (chiles in adobo, hot sauce) and the French (marsala wine, dijon mustard)...my point is, it's lovely to have space to keep those ingredients, and all of mine are still fresh and get used regularly to make healthy food. And when it's time to entertain, I probably could use more space!

                                                                                                                                    And while it's true that the French have tiny fridges and walk everywhere every day for fresh groceries, and are thin as a result of that, the two aren't necessarily correlated. I also use grocery shopping as a way to get my exercise - I bike to the store every day - but I still really like the size of my fridge for all the reasons noted above.