Go back to article: Refrigerating India

Abstract

This article examines the powerful change potential embedded in the innocuous looking cold storage box nestled into virtually every kitchen in the rich countries of the world: the refrigerator. For people in these countries, the refrigerator is a taken-for-granted component of food practices. The refrigeration technology and its potentials for affecting home practices are spreading to kitchens in the Global South through increasingly liberal transnational markets. The article explores the meeting of this food storage technology with locally anchored ideas in South India that are at odds with the refrigerator’s purpose. Based on ethnographic research centred in Kerala, India, conducted over a four-year period, the research unearthed how the refrigerator’s powerful time saving and food preserving potentials are eroding deeply anchored ideas about diet and health in India. The infrastructural tentacles of refrigeration are taking root and bringing with them the same dramatic changes in food production, delivery and consumption that we have seen in the rich countries of the world. The energy and environmental consequences of these refrigerator-driven changes are briefly examined.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/180903/001