Natural Products Expo East has come and gone, and while I didn’t attend the trade show, my fellow New Hope editors returned to our Boulder office gushing over the bevy of new and innovative food products they saw there.
One of the most interesting natural living exhibitors they brought to my attention? A peculiar little product—Fenugreen FreshPaper. It took me a little longer to understand what FreshPaper actually is than I care to admit, but after seeing this TEDx Talk presented by inventor Kavita Shukla, I think FreshPaper is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Its genius is in its simplicity. Essentially, FreshPaper is a paper towel-like sheet that you store with produce to keep it fresh up to two to four times longer. FreshPaper is infused with organic ingredients that “inhibit bacterial and fungal growth, as well as enzymes that cause over-ripening,” according to Fenugreen’s website. Per the name, the herb fenugreek—often used in Middle Eastern cuisine—is one of the active ingredients, giving FreshPaper a mapleish scent.
Rethinking food waste
Besides increasing the chance that I could eat my weekly CSA before it spoils, FreshPaper has much loftier opportunities to address the issue of global food waste. “In 2010, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated [in the United States],” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If food can stay fresh longer, perhaps more produce can be available at food banks. Families living in “food deserts” could have access to healthier foods. And retailers who carry fresh produce may be able to reduce the risk of spoilage before sale.
These are notable attributes of FreshPaper, but the true intelligence behind the product is that it’s super low tech. Recall, if you dare, our coverage of a GE apple that doesn’t brown. The “Arctic Apple” resists oxidation when exposed to air because scientists have added a synthetic gene to neutralize the enzyme that makes apples brown. Last time I checked, consumers weren't pining for a Frankenstein-ian fruit.
FreshPaper is a no-frills, brilliantly effective way to reduce food waste. And I’m sold.