When I built my house I noticed that one corner of the foundation was really deep, so I planned to make it into a root cellar. Now I use this space to keep the food I grow in the summer fresh through the winter, without refrigeration. It was a rather simple design feature, but it saves me a lot of energy in the long run and allows me to eat my harvest year round.
Our economy expends a huge amount of energy on refrigeration, not only to preserve food so that it can be shipped across the world and eaten fresh, but so that the food industry can recreate the climate conditions of a root cellar. The incredible diversity of flavors found in fermented foods, aged meats, wines, and cheeses were all developed around the world in the conditions found in local cellars. With the goal of preserving their harvest for more of the season, local artisans fermented, smoked, and salted foods before storing them in the cool natural conditions found several feet below the surface of the earth in a cellar. Without this need to preserve food in the absence of refrigeration, we would not have most of our expensive, highly-valued foods and flavors. We are indebted to our fossil fuel deprived ancestors for these amazing flavors.
There are many flavors being produced by the industrial food system, but they come from chemicals, preservatives, and artificial flavors. With the convenience of refrigeration, chemical preservatives, and artificial flavors the fossil fuel economy gives us, who needs fine wines, cheeses, charcuterie, or pickles, eh? Wouldn’t you rather eat cheetos and velveeta?