Fridges and food waste: An ethnography of freshness
2021 selection and editorial matter, Fiona Allon, Ruth Barcan and Karma Eddison-Cogan; individual chapters, the contributors. The fridge has transformed how much of the Minority World understands and performs freshness in everyday domestic space. Refrigeration slows food's decay, making possible access to food not spatially or temporally proximate. And thus, a taken-for-granted assumption in the Minority World is that fridges are integral to food's freshness. However, this may not extend to cultures and communities with unreliable access to energy supplies and working fridges. The chapter explores how knowledges of freshness change (or not) for migrants moving to a society where refrigerators are taken for granted. To do so, it draws on Deleuze and Guattari's related concepts of assemblage and the refrain to think about how freshness is achieved through the everyday rhythms of food purchase and storage that sustain understandings of self and place. The chapter draws on experiences of 12 Papua New Guinean (PNG) migrants in Australia/Aotearoa New Zealand, who shared their food preservation practices. We contend that in PNG, freshness is achieved through food purchasing and storage rhythms that sustain collective identities and shared places that work towards reducing food waste. In contrast, in Australia/Aotearoa New Zealand, these fridge-oriented rhythms that sustain freshness stabilise understandings of the responsible individual and private domestic spaces but encourage food waste.