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Exploring the Artificial Cryosphere

Exploring the Artificial Cryosphere

Nicola Twilley

About This Talk

September 18, 02018
The network of thermal control that we have built over the past century has remade our entire relationship with food, for better and, in some ways, for worse. It is the invisible backbone of our food system—a man-made, distributed, and perpetual winter of mechanical refrigeration that we have built for our food to live in. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the bold and curious set off on heroic expeditions to the icy wastes of the Arctic and Antarctic; in the twenty-first century, it is time for all of us to explore the mysteries of the artificial cryosphere. From banana ripening rooms to sleeping fish, and from reefers to juice tanks, we need to understand refrigeration's scope and impact, in order to take stock of what’s at stake. What have we gained and lost, in our wholehearted embrace of artificial cold? And what can we do to make sure its many benefits outweigh its enormous costs, going forward?

Nicola Twilley is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker magazine and a co-host of the podcast "Gastropod." She is at work on two books: one about refrigeration and the other on quarantine. She blogs at EdibleGeography.com.

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