I am always amused at articles aimed at elites on how to live a “green” life.

The latest one of these is in the NYTimes discussing how to live without a refrigerator.

In some ways, the people in the article are “typical” upper middle class New Yorkers: And they aren’t really living without refrigerators.

The first lady discussed stores food in a freezer in her basement, and keeps things cool in her apartment in a “cooler” that uses ice.

Ms. Muston finds herself cooking more — which requires more time and forethought because items from the freezer must be thawed.

So you still have a freezer, but brag you don’t have a refrigerator?

Reality check. The people in the article all have accesses to freezers, and have small “ice chests” that use ice (which was presumably made in the freezers) or small refrigerators that they just don’t call refrigerators.

Want to be eco friendly? Ask Grandmom.

In the “good old days” people bought blocks of ice from icemen for their iceboxes. The ice had been cut the previous winter from the local rivers, and stored.

The iceboxes were messy (ice blocks tended to melt) but that was ecofriendly, because the ice didn’t require anything but mother nature to make. Of course, by the time Grandmom was a kid, the ice was made in ice factories, so it was cheaper.

But one didn’t require a big ice chest to store frozen foods.

Ms. Muston finds herself cooking more — which requires more time and forethought because items from the freezer must be thawed…


Ever hear of canned food?

Even today, in the US, every one of my LDS patients would spend days canning her garden produce, and even ordinary folks would can fruits and jellies to save money.

Then there is the complaint by one Ms. Willis that dairy food goes bad.

“It’s silly not to have one,” she said, “considering what the alternative is: drinking up a gallon of milk in one day so it doesn’t spoil.”

Yup. That’s why in the US we used to have milkmen deliver milk every day.

But why buy a gallon of milk? Why not buy a quart a day, or mix up powdered milk, or buy ultrasterilized long life milk, which can be stored for months?

Heck, why not just put a goat in the back yard and milk her every day (been there, done that)?

If you read the article, there is actually a story of someone who grows and cans their own vegetables.

Mr. Campbell, 53, already hewed to a diet focused around long-lived staples like beans and grains, and had begun to can the vegetables he grows in the garden behind his house in Columbus, Ohio. By using a small chest freezer for fruit and leftover soups, he said, he has no trouble whipping up a meal.

Again, he has a “freezer”, but even in the city we had victory gardens for vegetables in vacant lots and back yards, and if you get enough vegetables, you shared them with neighbors or canned them.

Then the author makes an announcement that makes me roll my eyes:

Last fall, scientists at Oxford University in England revived the “Einstein refrigerator,” a pressurized gas fridge that runs without using electricity that is co-credited to Albert Einstein.

Huh? Both Gas and Kerosene powered refrigerators have been available at Lehman’s for years.

In Africa, kerosene refrigerators were used at our isolated clinics to keep vaccines and medicines fresh because there was no electricity.

But in the US, Lehman’s is well known in the “survivalist” and “back to nature” groups in rural areas, and also among religious groups such as the Amish who shun electricity.

In summary, there are three levels of “green living”.

One is the primitive, such as the rural Philippines or Africa.

Level two is that of the natural living types, who range from the Amish, or the Mormon farmers in Utah, to survivalists in Minnesota, to lower middle class folks who live on a tight budget, to aging hippies who still live simply in rural areas.

Level three is the “urban” yuppies, who “discover” how to live green, and tend to rediscover the wheel, learning simple things that most of us who are over 60 years old or who have lived in the country or lived on a tight budget already know.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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