20 March 2013
How did those peas and carrots get in your freezer? The story of how Clarence Birdseye developed the first freezing process is just as odd and interesting as the man himself. Birdseye is the first biography of Clarence Birdseye, the eccentric genius inventor whose fast-freezing process revolutionised the food industry and American agriculture.
While working as a fur trapper in Labrador, Canada, Clarence Birdseye encountered an age-old problem: bad food and an unappealing, unhealthy diet. However, he observed that fresh vegetables wetted and left outside in the Arctic winds froze in a way that maintained their integrity after thawing. As a result, he developed his patented Birdseye freezing process and started the company that still bears his name.
Birdseye, the last of the DIY, all-American tinkerers, forever changed the way we preserve, store, and distribute food, and the way we eat. Mark Kurlansky’s vibrant and affectionate narrative reveals Clarence Birdseye as a quintessential “can-do” American inventor.
In addition to changing the food industry and our diets more than any single man in history, at the time of his death he had 250 other patents including an electric sunlamp, a harpoon gun to tag finback whales, and an improved incandescent lightbulb. He shows how the greatest of changes can come from the simplest of ideas and the unlikeliest of places.
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of many books, including The Food of a Younger Land, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. He lives in New York City.