The Slower Fridge

I learned a long time ago inspiration and ideas can come at the most unlikely times and are often the result of seemingly unrelated thoughts and experiences. Such is the case for a recent idea regarding how to adapt the principles of slow food to stocking my refrigerator.

Two seemingly unrelated experiences converged not long ago. One was the images I saw during several recent episodes of House of Cards where Claire and Frank had such a simply stocked refrigerator in their White House residence. Every time I saw a scene, I felt guilty about how messy and unkempt my refrigerator actually was. So in the middle of one evening at approximately 8:30 PM I decided it was time to tackle the fridge.

I began by taking literally everything out and checking fresh dates which resulted in a considerable amount of recycling. Clearing each shelf offered an opportunity to thoroughly clean it before putting it back in and restocking it with existing items. Within an hour things were markedly improved and I felt a lot better about what was left. There was space, things were arranged more sensibly and I could see pretty much everything that was stored within.

At this point it was time for a late evening run to the grocery store for a few things to add back including some healthier bottled water drinking options and fruit. I went to bed that night feeling very accomplished.

Sometime in the middle of the following day, though, it occurred to me that having a clean refrigerator was a nice step forward but maybe not enough. I had taken the time to clean and sort and put back a few healthier options but I realized there was room to improve and that is where the second idea came into play.

Two days earlier I had an amazing conversation with a board member from Slow Food Chicago who introduced the idea of slow drinks to the Windy City. Her inspiration was that we all enjoy and celebrate slow food without necessarily thinking about what we drink, so her mission is to help us think about how we apply slow food principles to what we consume in liquid form.

While that idea intrigued me a lot, it was not where I really wanted to go at the time. Instead, I thought about how I could keep applying principles of slow food to my fridge. At first I thought, I will call it the "slow refrigerator," but upon further reflection I realized a more realistic goal would be to create a slower refrigerator. The reality is our goal in the slow food movement is to enjoy food that is good clean and fair as well as focusing on local foods whenever we can. That is where I think it is important to focus and yet maintain some perspective about just how far one can take the concept.

So how do I create the slower refrigerator? That is my question for now and one where I am still doing research and attempting to apply ideas from many sources to get to a more ideal state.

I'm starting with the idea of exploring how are Europeans do this by purchasing food that is fresher and secured on a more frequent basis and kept, as many of us know, in much smaller refrigerators than we have in the US. That is a start, but it's by no means the end. I also want to consider how to stock with locally and regionally available items along with healthier options that might come from further distances but could fit comfortably into the concept of slow food because of how things are grown, harvested or packaged.

Geoffrey Huys
Wausau, WI