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(The Atlantic)   Why do Americans have such large refrigerators?   (theatlantic.com) divider line 38
    More: Interesting, Americans, shelf lives, sustainable growth, Boston Scientific, refrigerators, family-owned  
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13314 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Oct 2013 at 3:25 PM (41 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



Voting Results (Smartest)
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vpb [TotalFark]
2013-10-06 12:03:52 PM
6 votes:
Because it costs less to buy things is larger quantities and it produces less packaging waste?
2013-10-06 11:59:03 AM
6 votes:
Because unlike Europeans, who tend to go shopping for fresh produce and meats every couple days or so, Americans buy a few weeks worth of food all at once, and we need the space to keep the food cold and fresh until we're ready to eat it.  That, and we don't eat the amount of fresh produce per day a lot of people in other countries do, so buying it every other day makes no fiscal sense.
2013-10-06 10:07:28 AM
6 votes:
Beer storage.  Geez what a stupid question.
2013-10-06 10:12:18 AM
5 votes:
Why is everyone else's so puny?
2013-10-06 04:26:12 PM
3 votes:

poot_rootbeer: For the most part, European cities have been planned by a central authority for livability.


Just a suggestion, on your next vacation take a trip to one European country. Great Britain for example. Nothing you posted is correct.
2013-10-06 01:17:47 PM
3 votes:
Because they're America's last ditch atomic blast shelters!

whatculture.com


/The REAL question should be:  Why do Americans have such large asses?
2013-10-06 10:43:22 AM
3 votes:
I'm guessing it's so they can keep a lot of things, or large things, cold?
2013-10-06 10:42:59 AM
3 votes:
They go along with our shopping habits.

www.kenrockwell.com
2013-10-06 10:16:57 PM
2 votes:

ReapTheChaos: Something I noticed a lot when I lived overseas was how they tend to keep a lot of foods in a cupboard rather than refrigerated. Eggs, cheese, mayonnaise, jelly/jam and other condiments, all kept on the countertop or in the pantry. If they had left over chicken from dinner they would just put it in a covered dish on the counter and eat it for lunch the next day. I don't know how the rates of food poisoning compare form there to here but I'd bet it's much higher.


No, it isn't. It's just that Americans have been brainwashed into believing that anything that has been out of the fridge for more than an hour will kill them and has to be thrown away. How do these people think the human race survived before refrigerators were invented? And no, everyone didn't live on a farm and slaughtered/picked/harvested everything they ate minutes before eating it. Ships sailed at sea for months and lived on salted beef etc.

Good beef is grey, not red. Game should be hung for a week in 'cool room' temperature, far above fridge temperature, before eating it. Stores in the UK don't even keep eggs chilled, they are just on a shelf at store temperature.
2013-10-06 05:16:05 PM
2 votes:

YoOjo: I don't eat dairy, don't take milk in my coffee and don't cook too much and freeze the leftovers.


Having leftovers does  not mean you cook "too much"; it could just mean that you are efficient.

I haven't baked bread for awhile, but when I would I would make four loves at once and freeze three of them. Why? Because making four at once was essentially exactly the same amount of effort and just about 1hr of sitting-around time more time than baking 1, and considering that one loaf has about 5 hours of sitting around time it's something that would have been hard to do during the week, or weekend-to-weekend. So I would bake multiple loaves on the weekend and then would have them later in the week.
2013-10-06 04:21:14 PM
2 votes:

Skyrmion: Arkanaut: Because Obama is trying to give away as much as he can to the poors.

Aha, so that explains it.

[cloudfront.mediamatters.org image 636x480]


That would be because all "poor" households are rented and most rentals include major appliances.  ie: fridge and range.  I grew up dirt poor and the only places we lived in that didn't already have a fridge were public housing or weren't hooked up for electricity in the first place.  As to the size of American refrigerators, it comes down to this.  We don't shop for food on a daily basis mostly it's weekly or bi-weekly and keeping anything fresh from spoiling requires refrigeration.  Thus, large fridge.
2013-10-06 04:12:06 PM
2 votes:

Tillmaster: Odd article. I'm far from convinced that their information is correct. It's true that American fridges are larger than the equivalent in, say, the UK, but over there they tend to use chest freezers (which are far more efficient than those odd little things at the top of American fridges.

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!


Edison was a real penis. He was the Steve Jobs of his era.
2013-10-06 03:49:21 PM
2 votes:

Mrbogey: The big draws in a home are in order:

1. Air Conditioning
2. Water heating
3. Lighting
4. Refrigeration.
5. Electronics

Your best bets to use little energy are use on demand hot water(natural gas), keep your AC set to as high as you can tolerate in the summer and as low in the winter, and go to bed shortly after the sun sets. Refrigeration is being outpaced by electronics for electrical usage due to efficient designs of the newer fridges.


Fark that noise.  I'm not poor and I don't live in a 3rd world hellhole where I have to rely on a finicky and unreliable energy source.  I heat and cool my living space so that it's  comfortable, not tolerable.
2013-10-06 03:39:06 PM
2 votes:
I live on and off in South America(Colombia) and I can tell you from my travels all over South America, and in the US.  The corner store is generally a myth.

Corner stores cost more, have inferior product, and just because the carrots have dirty still on them do not warrant the price being double for the convenience.

I eat a large amount of vegetables, and I go shopping every two weeks.

My Colombian wife spent most of her free time going to the tienda to buy two eggs, a bag of milk, and a few slices of bread, all at outrageous prices.

I finally sat down with her and showed her how she could save time and money by planning a shopping trip, and sure the guy in the supermarket might not be as friendly as the tienda(who robs the local residents blind) but you saved hours and pesos.
2013-10-06 12:28:37 PM
2 votes:
One of the benefits of living where I used to live in Berkeley, in an older neighborhood, with mixed development and housing was that it was a very simple, quick, and pleasurable thing to walk to a corner market (10th of a mile), or walk to a butcher or bakery or cheese shop (1/2 mile), or walk, even to a supermarket (1/2 mile) to pick up fresh food for dinner.

The place was built for walking, especially because it had mixed development.

Where I exist now the whole city was designed around cars. Stores, offices, boutiques are all clustered in megacenters with enormous parking lots.  The closest "grocery" store is a Target about 3/4 mile away. The closest supermarket is a mile away.  There are no independent bakeries or butchers etc. within 10 miles.

I'd like to move back to a place with a good walkability score.
2013-10-06 12:24:25 PM
2 votes:

Mrbogey: go to bed shortly after the sun sets


For a decent part of the year the sun sets before I'm even out of work.
2013-10-07 01:52:04 PM
1 votes:
I'm so sick of this myth that Europeans are so superior and they go to the market everyday to buy fresh vegetables. Every European city I've been to, the people eat like children (cheese sandwiches, baked beans, lots of pastries) and they don't really cook food (a visit to a local "super" market will make it clear that groceries are crappy and expensive). They eat out for most meals or buy microwavable stuff, and they certainly don't entertain very often in their home (if they do it's probably just a cheese plate). If you don't need ingredients, you don't need a fridge.

I live in a city (Philly) and I have a very large standalone fridge and a very small standalone freezer. My fridge has a lot of bulk food (meat and vegetables) in it because I don't want to drive to the supermarket everyday (yes I have to drive even though I live in a city because there are no good supermarkets here). We also have quite a lot of beer taking up an entire shelf in the fridge. I also need a wide fridge that can fit things like baking trays, since I make a lot of things from scratch. When people come over, I don't just pull out a bag of chips, I actually make a meal for them, so again I need the extra space. I really don't think any of the "enlightened" Europeans have the same issues.
2013-10-07 01:39:09 AM
1 votes:
... because the nearest grocery is 51 miles and we go once every two weeks. Not everyone lives in a big city with a Piggly Wiggly a mile away ...
2013-10-06 10:55:30 PM
1 votes:

Coco LaFemme: Because unlike Europeans, who tend to go shopping for fresh produce and meats every couple days or so, Americans buy a few weeks worth of food all at once, and we need the space to keep the food cold and fresh until we're ready to eat it.  That, and we don't eat the amount of fresh produce per day a lot of people in other countries do, so buying it every other day makes no fiscal sense.


I've live in Europe for a time, and dealt with the "small fridge" thing. It has its advantages and disadvantages

This is how it goes:

Electricity is high in cost. thats bad. They have small fridges that take less to run. Thats good. The fridge is small, so you have to shop more often. thats bad. Because you are shopping more often, the food is going to be fresher. thats good. You arent the only one who goes shopping more often, so the stores are more crowded. thats bad. Don't worry, your job closes every day for three hours at lunchtime, so you can go to the store. thats good. Oops, national GDP is down because everyone is running the same errands every day and nobody is at work. thats bad.

Like many things, it comes down to a lifestyle choice. Europe tends to do less, and take its time about it, while trying to bring up quality. US is trying to maximize the clock, and that means doing things in bulk, even if it brings the quality down a bit.
2013-10-06 08:01:48 PM
1 votes:

cryinoutloud: They go along with our shopping habits.


We tend to buy food for a week or two at a time in America because it's such a pain in the a$$ to get to the store.

The Europeans I tend to hang around with hit the central market on the way home from work on their bikes ever two days. They buy most everything in smaller packages and waste is frowned upon.

You want some more differences, look at the way they heat their houses. We tend to heat the whole house at once, they tend to heat rooms individually when they're occupied.

Different cultures, one shaped by many wars over the centuries.
2013-10-06 07:35:39 PM
1 votes:

feanorn: Old refrigerators are cool.


And bulletproof.They may be less efficient then the newer models, but I'll guarantee you you won't be finding a model purchased today still chugging along keeping somebody's beer cold in the garage 50 years from now.
2013-10-06 06:45:29 PM
1 votes:
Admiral Birdseye.

Really. We had a convergence of lots of new housing meaning new kitchens built to fit the new refrigerators that would keep your milk and meat fresh for days and allow you take advantage of the new boon of frozen foods. At the time we boomed, europe was recovering to a pre-war lifestyle. To be quite frank, Brits get by with small. Smaller houses, refrigerators, cooking appliances, cars.

Oh, and efficiency of a refrigerator should increase on a watts per cubic foot basis, since in scaling the surface squares while the volume cubes.
2013-10-06 06:21:19 PM
1 votes:
Why is the size of my refrigerator anyone else's concern? It was manufactured legally, purchased legally, and sits in my kitchen legally. It runs off legally produced and delivered electric power, and all of its contents were acquired legally. F*ck you if you don't like the size of it.
2013-10-06 06:05:37 PM
1 votes:
FTA "Most people would agree that fresh food tastes better than anything that's been kept in a refrigerator for even a short amount of time."

Who the fark says that? I'm not going to go shopping every day because my fridge is too small to hold a weeks worth of groceries, and fresh produce lasts 5 times longer in the fridge than it does sitting on the counter.

I lived in the UK for several years and the size of the refrigerators there are absolutely absurd. The average household fridge is what you would find in a dorm or hotel room. Forget about leftovers, what's not eaten gets thrown away most times because there's simply no room to store it.  The freezer section is barely large enough to hold a couple ice cube trays let alone anything else.

One thing I noticed is that the people get really good at packing things into them, it's like a jigsaw puzzle. The problem with that is, you have to spend 5 minutes pulling things out when what you need is in the back, and then spend another five minutes putting it all back in. They also tend to keep things that we keep refrigerated in the cupboard instead.

An energy efficient 18 cubic foot fridge costs less than $50 a year to operate, so saying that us Americans are destroying the environment with our refrigerators is simply ignorant.
2013-10-06 05:01:54 PM
1 votes:
Every low-flow toilet I have challenged has failed
2013-10-06 04:59:27 PM
1 votes:

iron de havilland: YoOjo: You know how in every TV thread there's that guy who says he doesn't have a TV?
*coughs*
I don't have a refrigerator or a freezer.
I don't eat out much and I don't spend hours cooking non-frozen non-ready meals. I eat fresh veg and pulses mainly, all of which I can keep unrefrigerated.
I don't eat dairy, don't take milk in my coffee and don't cook too much and freeze the leftovers.

Uh.

How?


He does cook too much, so he doesn't freeze the leftovers that he doesn't have.
2013-10-06 04:30:39 PM
1 votes:
Location. Location. Location.

When I lived in NYC my apartment was two blocks from a Westside Market and Garden of Eden, which I walked past on my way home. I cooked most of my dinners, buying what I needed each night. If I was ever out of an ingredient, it took me 10 minutes to go out, buy it, and return home. All I ever had in my refrigerator was beer, yogurt and butter.

I'm currently living in the suburbs where I have to drive to a supermarket for food, so I just load up once a week. The junior sized refrigerator I had in NYC would be too small.
2013-10-06 04:28:34 PM
1 votes:
I don't know*, but imagine how much money you'd save by cleaning the refrigerator out and buryng Big Momma in it instead of buying a custom made piano crate!

*I do know, and I am about to prove it. Patience while I work through my list of jokes.

Why not? They're stainless steel nowadays. They're practically airproof. Just adfix a lock or three to the door and you're done--a $3,000 coffin everybody can afford.

Well, maybe Bubba Pappy's $100 Kelvinator from the front porch.

But seriously, folks. Americans have enormous refrigerators for the followng obvious reasons.

1. Electricity is relatively cheap, even a 10 or 15 cents a kilowatt hour.
2. Food is subsidized (at least the stuff you're not supposed to eat) and thus also cheap.
3. Americans consume more meat than most people, except Argentinians and Australians, who eat a heck of a lot of meat.
4. Americans consume more dairy than most countries, except, oddly enough, China, where 25% of the people are lactose-intolerant but the massive populaton means the other 75% eat a heck of a lot of milk product.
5. Americans invented the refrigerator.
6. Except maybe for Canadians, Americans can fill a refrigerator with frozen food faster than anybody on Earth. Canadians helped invent frozen food (the McCains) but Americans (Birdseye) invented that as well. And then both nations ran away with the idea of cold storage.
7. Cold storage is big historically. Because of the three-way Atlantic trade and especially the North-South leg between Newfoundland and Canada on one end and the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, and the American South on the other, there were a lot of ships plying those routes. They could carry dried fish, lumber, ice and other commodites on the South-bound trip and carry sugar, rum, and tobacco on the Northbound trip. This meant a great head-start on selling refrigerators when they were invented by the very people who bought them.
8. In addition to economic and social reasons, Americans famously drink their beer cold and their water iced to within a inch of freezing. Refrigetors are both the cause and the effect of this custom. The water our early settlers drank often came from fresh flowing streams or wells and was thus colder than the air. We got used to doing it that way and still do.
9. Also, water was plentiful and ice cheap, so restaurants encouraged us in expecting a giant glass of cold water on demand.
10. In short, America is a perfect storm of refrigeration. Next week: Why do North Americans use so much power for heating and AC, often at the same time?
2013-10-06 04:24:21 PM
1 votes:

vodka: It's simple, people in many other countries spend a lot more time going out to get food (either to collect and bring back or eat out) compared to Americans.


Yes, this is called "exercise."  It doesn't take place at the gym, but it's exercise nonetheless.
2013-10-06 04:18:54 PM
1 votes:
Article contains a lot of information about the history of refrigeration, very little about what it is about North American shopping and eating habits that results in our refrigerators being so large.

For the most part, European cities have been planned by a central authority for livability.  Want to cook dinner tonight?  There's plenty of stores you can stop in at on your walk from the public transportation center to your home and pick up one or two meals' worth of absolutely fresh food.

For the most part, American cities are not planned at all, except by developers trying to maximize their profit per acre on new construction sales.  Buying food means driving to a mega-market 5 miles away, and buying a week's worth of food in advance because otherwise it's not worth the time or cost.
2013-10-06 04:02:22 PM
1 votes:
It's simple, people in many other countries spend a lot more time going out to get food (either to collect and bring back or eat out) compared to Americans.
2013-10-06 03:46:23 PM
1 votes:

jaylectricity: It's so we can spend less energy driving to the store less often.
Have larger containers of food to use less packaging.
Stores can move larger volumes of food at a time requiring only one large building instead of three smaller ones.


Zackly.  The author must not be deep enough to think it through.  Driving 15 miles to the nearest store and 15 back everyday is a waste of energy.  We live in a large country where things are a lot further apart than they are in Europe so to save energy we have lager refrigerators.
2013-10-06 03:32:18 PM
1 votes:
We got rid of our refrigerator last year to make room for a wood-burning stove.

Honestly, when we buy meat and poultry we use it that day or donate it to the local halfway house. Anything else just seems... incredibly non-green.
2013-10-06 01:41:48 PM
1 votes:

namatad: RoyBatty: One of the benefits of living where I used to live in Berkeley, in an older neighborhood, with mixed development and housing was that it was a very simple, quick, and pleasurable thing to walk to a corner market (10th of a mile), or walk to a butcher or bakery or cheese shop (1/2 mile), or walk, even to a supermarket (1/2 mile) to pick up fresh food for dinner.

The place was built for walking, especially because it had mixed development.

Where I exist now the whole city was designed around cars. Stores, offices, boutiques are all clustered in megacenters with enormous parking lots.  The closest "grocery" store is a Target about 3/4 mile away. The closest supermarket is a mile away.  There are no independent bakeries or butchers etc. within 10 miles.

I'd like to move back to a place with a good walkability score.

It has been a LONG time since most americans lived that way.


I understand, but I am told that because of zoning laws outlawing mixed development, and because of how developers place parking lots in front of a store instead of in the rear which makes it that much more difficult to build a streetside business community.

It was very new to me when I moved to Berkeley from a very suburban part of LA, but it was great.

I also lived 1/2 mile uphill from one BART station and 3/4 mile downhill from another BART station which also turned out to be terribly wonderful luck.
2013-10-06 11:41:01 AM
1 votes:
The big draws in a home are in order:

1. Air Conditioning
2. Water heating
3. Lighting
4. Refrigeration.
5. Electronics

Your best bets to use little energy are use on demand hot water(natural gas), keep your AC set to as high as you can tolerate in the summer and as low in the winter, and go to bed shortly after the sun sets. Refrigeration is being outpaced by electronics for electrical usage due to efficient designs of the newer fridges.
2013-10-06 11:36:14 AM
1 votes:
Americans don't want to go shopping (or eat out) every day.

/two person household.
//two fridges.
///total of ~34 cu. ft.
////both packed full.
2013-10-06 10:52:35 AM
1 votes:

LordZorch: Knew it, just another envirotard piece on how evil Americans are killing the planet.

Go take your puny little fridge someplace else.


You are bad at reading.
2013-10-06 10:06:03 AM
1 votes:
All of that high fructose corn syrup juice has to go somewhere.
 
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