To Freeze Food or not to Freeze Food

English: Frozen peas (Pisum sativum). Suomi: J...

I can almost tell you to the day when I discovered the difference in the canned vegetables my mother served us and the frozen peas a neighbor made for dinner.  Why didn’t my mother know about these delectable treats?  Or thinking back, my mother had a garden, why didn’t she grow us some fresh vegetables instead of only flowers?  I don’t know the answer to those questions but I’m learning a lot about how frozen foods came into wide-spread use.  As usual I found a book in the browsing section of the local librarian; they put out such intriguing books.  The book is Birdseye:  The Adventures of a Curious Man.

Although I’m breezing through Birdseye I’m also trying to remain sane while I also slog through The Maltese Falcon.  The problem with The Maltese Falcon is stopping to reflect on how close each scene is to the movie; needless to say it’s very slow going.  Frozen food is so much faster.  I’m almost halfway through the Birdseye book and still no mention of frozen vegetables.  So far I’ve been hunting ticks in the Wild Wild West to help discover the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  I’ve been to Labrador on a hospital ship.  At one point there was a brief stay at a cooking school. I’ve eaten food out of tin cans, skinned foxes and other furry animals and discovered salted cod doesn’t freeze.  That’s quite a bit for 88 pages.

In the Beginning

Incandescent light bulb (no labels)

Clarence Birdseye was an adventurer and an inventor.   My new friend Clarence was born within a decade of: the invention of the telephone, the phonograph, the first incandescent light bulb, the first automobile that was practical to use, George Eastman’s roll film and camera (say “Cheese”) , even the first capillary feeding fountain pen (be gone inkwells), and don’t forget  cash registers (Cha-Ching).  There was Coca-Cola flowing, washing machines pumping and this surprised me, contact lenses were patented.  Simply put, the close-knit world of everyday citizens was expanding: rapidly expanding.  Clarence Birdseye was willing and ready to help with this widespread expansion.

We’re Never Satisfied

If I read nothing but the preface I would have a thought to ponder for a long long time. It’s human nature to desire what we normally don’t have.  Right now I’m thinking something from a bakery. A tailor’s son wants a factory-made suit the same factory made envy for a boot maker’s child.  Clarence Birdseye grew up as the industrial revolution was gaining speed.  He was pro industry.  Industry could produce items faster and cheaper than mom and pop operations.  Clarence traveled about the world and tasted foods so foreign to the local foods he was used to.  He wanted others to experience the wide range of foods available. We’re all post-industrial babies and love our local markets but if Clarence Birdseye were dropped into today’s society he would not understand the artisanal movement.  Why buy close to home when the world is our home?   Think about that for a while.   I’ve been contemplating that sentence for several days.

You were about to get a pithy quote from Edgar Allen Poe but I discovered I was mixing up my metaphors.  I was having the raven quote something about pendulums.  It didn’t work for the raven or for me.  As long as I was checking out my nonexistent quote I also picked up the Birdseye book to check a fact.  I discovered in the next paragraph, which since the book was open I took a moment to scan, Clarence started going by the name of Bob.  Bob?  Best guess is that he determined that people found it easier to talk to a Bob than a Clarence.  I’m guessing if he showed up in today’s world our naming habit might throw him for a bigger loop than our post-industrial ways or possibly he would be so intrigued by the variety of names that he would never get to explore our current foods issues.

 The End of the Story is Yet to Come

Apparently I have fields of vegetables and schools of fish to read about before I sleep – even a mountain top in Peru.  First I shall take a break and celebrate with something from the freezer and a slice of artisanal bread and then curl up with both Sam Spade and Bob Birdseye…a kinky combo.

Figure 1 from United States patent #1,773,079 ...

Figure 1 from United States patent #1,773,079 issued to Clarence Birdseye for the production of quick-frozen fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So are you an artisanal fan or love the ease of frozen foods?   Your thoughts are welcome.


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