Food Supply Chains, Refrigeration and Performativity

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Stephen DERRICK , Political & Social Inquiry, Monash University, Australia
This paper explores food supply chains through the lens of refrigeration technologies and systems and examines how they have influenced approaches to food. The first commercial household refrigerator was introduced in the 1920’s. Refrigeration of food is now so pervasive that it influences what we eat and has shaped understandings of “fresh”. Callon’s notion of performativity (1998) is useful in making sense of how refrigeration has shaped our practises and understandings. The discourse around refrigeration and fresh food is both ‘outside of the reality that it describes’ and at the same time is a part of the ‘construction of the reality of an object by acting on it’ (Callon 2006).The increasing length of food chains and reliance on fossil fuelled systems of handling, storage and transport of food reinforces feelings of increasing time space compression (Harvey 1999) and peoples’ remoteness from their food supply. This separation from food also is also connected with increasing reliance on food packaging and pre-preparation techniques which are an inherent part of global food supply systems. The types of foods that are available and transported globally, have implications for greenhouse gas emissions; food waste; food security and nutrition and health among others. In a world where food availability and price is heavily determined by agro-industrial corporations, an examination of the social implications of further economic concentration in our food supply sector is needed.