During our stay in the US, we moved about 3 times. Each of the apartments we moved into had a refrigerator. In my eagerness to shop ALL I needed for the week, I would buy lot of food stuff in bulk. I am guilty of using the refrigerator as a cupboard or storage space for fruits, vegetables, and condiments. Anything and everything including, flour was kept in the fridge. I would review the contents of our fridge about once in a month (or 2 months, depending on my work) and would throw expired food away. My excuse invariably was that I did not have time.
It has been nearly 3 years since we moved to India, and we have not had a refrigerator for these years. The transition to our current life without a refrigerator was easier than anticipated. I learned how many things need not be refrigerated. The peak summer temperature in Bangalore at 36.7 degrees Centigrade (Approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit) was never a hindrance this year. We use the natural coolness of our home in summers and the warmth of sunshine during the winters to get a majority of our work done.
When we visit villages as part of our work we notice that in some homes, they do not have a fridge. Our grandparents’ generation did just fine without the refrigerator. So much of what the average city dweller in India possesses is a result of culture and convenience. Often, we don’t have a need, but advertising and society (read media, friends, colleagues, relatives) have convinced us what we should have. Over the past fifty years or so, in our quest to become “modern”, we have lost a lot of our traditional knowledge.
It would be unfair to say that everyone can do without a fridge but the urban dweller in India definitely has an edge over his rural counterpart. In majority of urban India, vegetable markets and local stores are within walking distance of one’s home. It is surprisingly easy to live without a fridge once you realize that most foods don’t really need refrigeration. ( In fact they would last longer if not refrigerated.) We do not need to have a refrigerator just to prove that we are modern! I often hear a gasp from people when I tell them we do not have a fridge. I strongly believe that we must stop following the main stream opinions and start questioning conventional wisdom. We should pay more attention to what works for us, instead of what needs to work for us.
In the process of writing this blog, I have been fortunate to read many thought provoking articles on agricultural and ecological issues, and consumerism. It has influenced me to rethink my cavalier attitude towards the environment – be it energy and water consumption, or food wastage. Living without refrigerator has helped me examine my own relationship with food consumption, preservation, and wastage.