Historically speaking, humanity has never had as much access to food as it has now. Indeed, our ancestors could probably only dream of being able to get anything they wanted literally on their platters!
Not only can we sample cuisines from places in the world we could not have afforded to travel to, but we can get them delivered to our doors. That is not even mentioning the revolutionary strides undertaken in accommodating people with allergies and immune diseases like Crohn’s or celiac disease.
This access and the amount of choice are truly unprecedented when you think about it. And for that, we have to thank the modern miracle of technology and refrigeration. After all, how else would we have been able to taste something from far-flung lands like Japan when on the other side of the globe?
It might seem unbelievable, but it was not so long ago when fridges and freezers were still rare in most households. In fact, well into the 1930s, many families still struggled to keep their food fresh and protected because they could not afford to buy these devices. It has only been less than a century since we have enjoyed the luxury of home refrigeration. Learn more about this topic on this link: https://www.marthastewart.com/1537798/refrigerator-history-explained
Relying on ice, the first of these machines were largely unsustainable as they required constant changing of the ice to keep the temperatures inside low enough. Hence, they were termed “iceboxes” because of it. Luckily, everything changed with the invention of a substance called freon.
The science behind it
This synthetic refrigerant, also referred to as a cooler, was relatively cheap and practical to incorporate into machinery. Moreover, its properties allowed it to automatically cool the fridge without exchanging ice packs to keep the temperature low.
It ushered in a new era of plenty in the post-war period. Families were finally able to make their food last longer, reduce waste and grocery spending costs. During those times, the concept of leftovers was introduced, which was previously unheard of as all food had to be eaten soon after it was made to avoid spoiling.
Unfortunately, by the end of the 20th century, Freon and other gases like it, which were used in commercially produced devices like air conditioners, were harmful to the environment. Namely, the emissions of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs for short, were responsible for damaging the ozone layer around our planet.
Soon enough, legislation that banned them was passed, and fridges and freezers had to switch to other functioning methods. Fortunately, this was not a problem because, by the 1990s, technology was advanced enough to figure it out.
As a matter of fact, the freezing technology became so cutting-edge that some people were even considering preserving their bodies after they pass in case of science progressed enough in the future to bring them back to life. You have probably heard of some famous people that have done that, like Walt Disney. Well, that one, in particular, is a myth, but cryogenics is still a trendy choice among a niche crowd. Read more on the subject on this page.
A matter of life or death
However, this particular subset of physics has also been very useful in the medical field. Without properly equipped freezers, modern organ transplantation would have been a pipe dream. Furthermore, because of advanced freezing techniques, many people can save their genetic material such as fertilized eggs and have children when they are finally prepared.
More recently, we could witness the life-saving applications of refrigeration during the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. While we can certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel with so many high-performing vaccines being manufactured and transported across the country, there is a caveat to it.
Due to their mRNA structure, these newly designed vaccines require special treatment. To prevent the mRNA from dissolving, they need to be kept in an ultra low temp freezer when transported. The freezing temperatures ensure that the biological components within the vaccine remain stable and effective when injected into the patient.
Despite the production of the vaccines being so widespread, many countries struggled with obtaining the proper equipment required to keep them safe, as commercially available refrigerators were not sufficient to handle the task. The good news is that production on these special freezers is ramping up because of their demand, so hopefully, everyone will have enough to transport their vaccines!
Some final words
In conclusion, we can safely say without exaggeration that the invention of the fridge and the freezer changed our world for the better. Regardless of you think the perks are frozen pizzas, a steady supply of ice cream, or a life-saving medical method, we can all agree that it was for the best.