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Frostbite by Nicola Twilley
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Frostbite by Nicola Twilley
Hardcover $30.00
Jun 25, 2024 | ISBN 9780735223288

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    Jun 25, 2024 | ISBN 9780735223288

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  • Jun 25, 2024 | ISBN 9780593864418

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“[Nicola Twilley] tells the fascinating story of refrigeration and tracks its effects on eating habits, family dynamics and much else. Along the way, she skillfully introduces us to the people who helped make refrigeration a key feature of everyday life and who now work at the chilly front lines of the modern economy.”Wall Street Journal

“Just the fact that we can keep things cold—food, ourselves, drink—changes everything about the way we live . . . It’s smart and it’s fun . . . A book about cold is the perfect summer book.” Science Friday, Best Science Books of Summer 2024

“Twilley’s style weaves storytelling with a series of well-timed narrative combination punches . . . This is bravura technique. You read through once, not unappreciatively, and then—boom—you go back and read it again, your mind racing to embrace the ramifications . . . Still, Frostbite wears its politics lightly, trusting the reader to conjure their own indignation. The style is accessible, informative and infectiously readable. Yet all the time, the book is quietly inspiring a desire for change. You will not know you’ve been evangelised but you will reach a point where you walk into the fruit and veg aisle on your weekly shop, look at a carton of ‘fresh’ orange juice or pick up a vac-packed chicken and feel ​overcome with a kind of despairing nausea.” Financial Times

“Twilley’s Frostbite is one of the best-informed and most entertaining examples of food or science journalism published since the emergence of the field . . . One cannot help but admire Twilley’s determination to learn from the people who made and maintain this complex modern marvel and share her enthusiasm for the subject of refrigeration. In her research for this book, she consulted the right sources, talked to the right people, and visited the best archives available, but it is Twilley’s first-person experiences that make reading Frostbite so much fun.” Science

“[Twilley’s] engrossing book combines lucid history, science and a thoughtful consideration of how daily life today is both dependent on and deformed by this matrix of artificial cold . . . I found this book hard to put down. The startling statistics—the cold chain preserves almost three-quarters of the food Americans eat; American households open the fridge door an average of 107 times a day—separate tales of unsung scientists . . . Read this book at your own risk; grocery shopping will not be the same.” The New York Times Book Review

“A fascinating look at how refrigeration shapes different facets of society, including our economy. Going back to the earliest days of the ‘cold chain’ when ice was harvested from New England lakes and packed into rail cars, refrigeration shrunk the world and drove industries to scale, especially meat. It was refrigeration that enabled centralized stockyards and massive slaughterhouses, which largely did away with the local butcher as a skilled trade and viable business. Later in the book, Nicola Twilley visits Rwanda and show us the big dilemma: unless we make considerable breakthroughs, spreading refrigeration to poorer countries would have incredible health benefits for billions of people—but would also be catastrophic for the climate. There’s a desperate need to find new ways to cool our food.” —NPR’s Planet Money

“A lively history of humans and food and fridges, told by Twilley, a science journalist . . . She takes us from the earliest experiments in freezing food—Sir Francis Bacon caught a fatal chill in 1626 trying to freeze a chicken—up through the contemporary systems we now have in America and around the world . . . The history of chilling our food is twinned with the study of how and why it rots, and those explanations are much more complicated than you might expect.” —Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“This deeply reported, vividly rendered book lives up to its subtitle and aptly explains why the United Kingdom’s Royal Society called refrigeration the most important invention in the history of food . . . Frostbite skillfully sketches the history of the refrigeration revolution . . . But many of the book’s most fascinating bits come not from the history of cold, but from explorations into how we adapt to its consequences today.” Undark Magazine
“A revelatory deep dive into refrigeration’s past and present. [Twilley] goes well beyond the obvious (‘nearly three-quarters of everything on the average American plate’ is at some point refrigerated) to explore every aspect of what she dubs the ‘artificial cryosphere’—a globe-spanning cold zone maintained by massive infrastructures and energy expenditures that, due to its greenhouse gas emissions, has paradoxically played a major role in ‘the disappearance of its natural counterpart’: ice . . . The result is a brilliant synthesis of a complex system’s many facets, with a useful focus on sustainable solutions.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[Twilley] spent a decade tracing the history and contemplating the future of artificial cold. In Frostbite, she considers how we got where we are today: enjoying whatever food we want when we want it, but with unintended consequences for our health and environment . . . From hard science to fascinating history, major machinery to quirky theories, Frostbite explores seemingly every aspect of our refrigeration-dependent existence as the author visits banana-ripening rooms in New York City and cheese caves in Missouri; travels to China to learn about its booming pork industry; has coffee in California with “the world’s first and only refrigerator dating expert” and much more . . . Frostbite, a decidedly interesting and insightful book by an impressively intrepid reporter, offers compelling food for thought about the role of cold in our lives, for better or worse, now and in the future.” BookPage (starred review)

“An oddly fascinating look at the world of refrigeration . . . Twilley’s book is a delightful mine of meaningful trivia: One learns from her pages, for instance, why pizza and ice cream are shipped separately and why baked goods are cooled gradually (because, as a cold storage warehouse manager told her, “bread will crystallize if it’s cooled too fast”). Throughout, the author’s historical reach traverses seemingly effortlessly from the Roman Empire to 19th-century America . . . A literate treat for tech- and history-inclined foodies.” Kirkus (starred review)

“The saga of ‘domesticating cold’ and the many methods of food preservation are spryly communicated by Twilley . . . Information about the evolution and design of modern refrigerators, food waste, the control of fruit ripening, and the subterranean Global Seed Vault (‘a Noah’s ark for seeds’) is noteworthy. This distinctive history tells us not to take our household fridge for granted; it has profoundly affected the composition of our meals and made handy leftovers possible.” Booklist

Frostbite is a perfectly executed cold fusion of science, history, and literary verve. You have no idea the fun you’re in for here, the marvelously odd characters and their quietly world-shifting devices – truths and tales that could only have been unearthed through the reporterly perseverance and giddy curiosity of Nicola Twilley. As a fellow nonfiction writer, I bow down. This is how it’s done.” —Mary Roach, New York Times bestselling author of Fuzz and Stiff
“Nicola Twilley takes readers on a trip along the “cold chain,” which is really what connects farm to table. It’s a fascinating, eye-opening journey, and Twilley is a fabulous guide. Frostbite will forever change the way you look at food.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction
“In Frostbite, Nicola Twilley has made the simple idea of cold into both a complex tale of life on Earth and a wonderfully addictive reading experience. There’s a remarkable cast of characters–from scientists to freezer specialists–working to understand it, to harness it, along the way accidentally and purposefully reshaping our lives. We so often focus on issues of warmth that we tend to forget the bone-chilling power of its opposite. But, I can promise you, after this book you won’t do that.” —Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Poison Squad
Frostbite is astonishing. From daring cryonauts to exhaling salad bags to gaseous apples, Nicola Twilley brings readers on a jaw-dropping voyage that lays bare the miracle, mess, and surprising ramifications of refrigeration. A must-read for anyone who eats or drinks in the 21st century. I can’t stop thinking about this book.” —Bianca Bosker, New York Times bestselling author of Get the Picture
“In her wonderfully, shiver-inducingly immersive Frostbite, Nicola Twilley scrapes clear a window onto the modern cold chain, the pervasive yet mostly invisible infrastructure of chilled warehouses and distribution systems that supply food to our household refrigerators—today’s humming hearths. As Twilley documents in both entertaining and sobering detail, this cold control is a truly remarkable achievement, a boon for human nourishment and pleasure, yet a costly one for the natural superstructures that ultimately feed and house us all.” —Harold McGee, James Beard Award–winning author of Nose Dive and On Food and Cooking

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