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‘From Now on We All Demand: Give Us Pure Ice!’ – Natural and Artificial Ice in the Service of Food Hygiene in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Helsinki, Finland

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This study examines how natural and manufactured ice were embraced in the expanding realm of urban hygiene in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki during the latter half of the nineteenth century and especially during the first half of the twentieth century. The study reveals the ambivalent nature of ice, as it was used as a mediator of coldness for refrigeration purposes. While it benefited hygienic food preservation, it was increasingly perceived as a potential transmitter of pathogenic bacteria, and thus a hygienic risk. The study addresses the ambiguous questions surrounding purity with regard to natural resources and their ‘artificial’ alternatives by linking them to the, then, increasingly topical problem of environmental pollution within the context of a rapidly urbanising and modernising city. The study contributes to the increasing number of environmental historical studies on the diverse aspects of the cryosphere by broadening the focus to urban regions.
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Keywords: Urban hygiene, food hygiene, ice, refrigeration, Finland, nineteenth and twentieth century

Appeared or available online: March 17, 2019

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