Appreciating Produce
Written By
Jaimie K. Wilson
April 25, 2024

Appreciating Produce

June is National Fruits and Veggies Month (as well as Celibacy Awareness Month, Firework Eye Safety Month, Frozen Yogurt Month and Give a Bunch of Balloons Month...) but let’s focus on fruits and vegetables for now. Whether you’re a meat and potatoes person or someone who adds spinach and kale to smoothies, there’s a good chance at least a few fruits and vegetables are near and dear to your heart.

Today I want you to be thankful for those delicacies. Love your lettuce. Adore that apple. Let your pineapple know how much you appreciate it. You may not realize it, but year-round access to fresh produce is a fairly recent novelty.

Less than 100 years ago, the average person was dependent on what was local, seasonal and affordable. Unless you were rich, food probably got really boring during harsh winter months. But thanks to technology, most modern Americans can’t identify. Let’s face it, if you need sour green mango powder, Amazon can probably have it waiting on your doorstep the next day.

And yet, each Christmas I still put an orange and handful of nuts in the toe of my children’s stockings, which is especially funny because we live in Florida and do not suffer from a shortage of oranges. But it’s what my mom did for us. It’s what her parents did for her, back when fresh citrus was still an exotic treasure and the bright flavor of an orange in winter was its own special magic.

The Transporation of Refrigerated Foods: A Brief Timeline

1840s – Ice-refrigerated cars (or reefers) are used to transport milk and butter.

1860s – Ice-refrigerated transport is mostly for seafood and dairy products.

1867 – The first refrigerated railroad car to carry fresh fruit was built by Parker Earle of Illinois, who shipped strawberries on the Illinois Central Railroad. Each chest contained 100 pounds of ice and 200 quarts of strawberries.

1878 – Gustavas Swift, the owner of a Massachusetts meat-packing business, created a cooling solution for railroad cars that placed the ice in a compartment close to the top of a well-insulated reefer and allowed the chilled air to flow naturally downward to the meat packed at the bottom.

1938 – Joseph Numero and Frederick Jones patent the first transport refrigeration unit, the "Model A," which ushered in the era of frozen foods, large supermarkets and the delivery of fresh produce nationwide.

1942 – Frederick Jones, a prolific early 20th century black inventor who helped to revolutionize both the cinema and refrigeration industries, developed the first portable refrigeration units for troops stationed overseas in World War II, enabling soldiers to enjoy fresh foods, cold drinks, and most importantly, store temperature-sensitive drugs and blood plasma.

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