Phillip Smith

Is the inside of your fridge a metaphor for your life?

inside of fridge

Note: Just to get things clear up front, I want to state that I am in NO WAY judging anyone for what they have, or don’t have, inside of their fridge, literal or spiritual, at any time. These are just observation and musing, as free of judgement as possible. :)

Recently, a friend show me a photo of the inside of their fridge. The contents consisted roughly of two bottles of San Pelegrino, two bottles of beer, and, well, not much more. Later that day, I fact-checked the photo by investigating the inside of this friend’s fridge and, indeed, it was a picture of minimalism.

I was left with two question:

  1. What more does one really need other than sparkling water and fermented sparkling water?

  2. Is the inside of our fridge a metaphor for our lives?

The answer to question two is sort of obvious really: Sometimes. Sometimes the inside of a fridge will match perfectly where we are at in our lives, and sometimes it will not. But I still wonder what percentage of the time the metaphor actually is accurate? I suspect it is more often than we think.

I actually have a fair bit of field work on this topic because I’m often staying at other people’s homes. And, because I’m someone who usually prefers to eat in vs. going out, I’m usually knee deep in my hosts fridge. Warning! If you invite me to stay in your house I’m going to get all up in your fridge! I am going to look at every sauce and marinade that you own, I’m going to explore your freezer, and I’m probably going to peak into your crispers and poke about in your cupboards.

Anyway, back to the minimalist fridge. After seeing the aforementioned fridge I was transported back to the year 1998, when I was twenty five, and my own fridge resembled this one greatly. I distinctly recall a friend – perhaps even the friend who’s apartment I’m looking after right now! – remarking that all I had in my fridge was a case of sparkling water, a case of champange, and several avocados. When I was twenty five I was a bachelor of the first degree and my existence consisted mostly of eating take-out food and staying up all night…

Without much doubt, the inside of my fridge in 1998 matched my life and my soul almost perfectly.

Fast forward to 2012…

The fridge I use in Toronto is a completely different picture: it is packed to the edges with every variety of fresh vegetables, exotic Korean radishes, and foods from France that I am not able to identify. The bottom shelf is a constantly evolving offering of left overs and things that need to be consumed imminently. The fridge reflects the shared home that I’m living in this summer, my two Internationally-inspired house mates, and the commitment we all have to eating well and sharing meals with each other and friends.

The fridge I use in Oaxaca is also very different: though not nearly as full, it is also home to an impressive offering of fresh vegetables, various leafy greens, and smoked meats – all procured on a weekly basis at the Pachote organic market across the street – and an enviable selection of Mexican micro brew beers and cold Red wine (usually Pinot Noir). This fridge is a testament to my life in Oaxaca, which is dominated by my obsession with salads and having friends over for impromptu meals and post-work drinks in the shade of the patio.

Both of these fridges are powerful and accurate metaphors for my life in those places.

In the same way that you can adjust your mood simply by smiling, I wonder if I can adjust aspects of my life simply by re-organizing my fridge? By loading it with food meant to be shared, can I invite more sharing of food into my life? By loading the freezer, can I create the calmness that comes from knowing that there’s always food in the house, but also apply some pressure to think about what I’d like to have for dinner while I’m making breakfast or lunch?

Those are my food musings today…

What does the inside of your fridge look like?


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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