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• Transportation of food added a great variety to the American diet, and that included greater choices for the poor.
• Food prices dropped due to availability, which resulted in improved nutrition for people of all classes.
• Mealtime options expanded beyond seasonal foods. Fresh food began to be available year-round.
• Small markets began to be edged out by supermarkets, which could offer food in larger quantities.
• Refrigerated cases in supermarkets meant you could buy pre-cut meat and no longer had to go to a butcher’s shop.
• There was less food waste because spoilage was under better control.
• Mealtime was more convenient for the cook, with less shopping necessary.
• The prevention of spoilage was what prompted refrigeration, but today it’s recognized as an important part of food safety because it suppresses the growth of food-borne bacteria, says Craig Hedberg, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.
And along the way, our palates evolved as they always do when new flavors and textures are introduced.
“Refrigeration raised the expectations of what food would taste like. People no longer expected that food would taste old, but would taste fresh,” said Tracey Deutsch, an associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota.
Dinner would never be the same.
Follow Lee Svitak Dean on Twitter: @StribTaste