This article is a revised version of a plenary lecture delivered at the 82nd Anglo-American Conference of Historians on the theme of ‘Food in history’, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 11–13 July 2013.
Moral economies and the cold chain†
Version of Record online: 29 JUL 2014
© 2014 Institute of Historical Research
Volume 88, Issue 239, pages 125–137, February 2015
How to Cite
Freidberg, S. (2015), Moral economies and the cold chain. Historical Research, 88: 125–137. doi: 10.1111/1468-2281.12076
- Issue online: 20 JAN 2015
- Version of Record online: 29 JUL 2014
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the spread of what we now know as the cold chain sparked controversy in both Europe and North America. This article examines popular distrust of early refrigerated transport and storage in light of larger debates about how best to procure good food at a fair price. Expanding on E. P. Thompson's concept of moral economy, the article shows that refrigeration proved controversial not simply because it helped de-localize and industrialize food supply. It also challenged norms that had previously governed trade in perishables, especially those concerning transparency, naturalness and freshness.