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FreshPaper Lengthens Lifespan Of Produce And Maybe People Too

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Jan 9, 2014 5:30PM

2014_1_9_freshpaper.jpg Hunger’s persistence doesn’t stem from supply. It arises from a plexus of politics, distribution, and bare-bones biology such as fruits and vegetables’ rapid rate of spoilage. So on what front is humanity making the most progress? Are heads of state finally making nice and funneling food efficiently across borders? A wee bit. Looks like we're making more headway, however, slowing fresh food’s rate of decay, with murkier economic and political factors lagging farther afield. Simple science in the form of squares of paper infused with organic spices may soon be saving more human lives—while extending that of produce—than the chattiest human rights panels.

Founded by Kavita Shukla in 2010, Fenugreen sells FreshPaper at Whole Foods and online. For $24.95 for five packs of eight sheets, the paper promises to extend your fruit and veggies’ lifespan by two to four times. Shukla’s special admixture of spices, derived from her Indian grandmother’s recipe for easing an achy belly, work to inhibit bacterial and fungal growth while smelling like fresh maple leaves. Swaddling your apples or asparagus in these 5”x 5” sheets can allay your ecological conscience by putting less food to waste while also saving money in the long run. But its implications extend far beyond your kitchen counter, especially in food banks, which often receive fresh food just on the brink of spoilage.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of all food grown for human consumption in the United States alone is never eaten, due in large part to spoilage, which Shukla cites in a February TED talk as responsible for a loss of 25 percent of the world’s food supply and its most nutrient-rich portion to boot. Moreover, 1.6 billion people on the planet live without refrigeration and eat their food fresh or not at all. Fenugreen and its life-saving paper also match every pack you buy with a donation to a local food bank, putting those fountain-of-youth fantasies to good, philanthropic use.