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FreshPaper: Taking on Food Waste with a Sheet of Paper

FreshPaper: Taking on Food Waste with a Sheet of Paper
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FreshPaper as described by the company is a simple piece of paper that keeps fruits & veggies fresh for 2-4 times longer, organically. A "dryer sheet for produce," one small (5" x 5") FreshPaper sheet can simply be dropped into a fridge drawer, fruit bowl, or any other container filled with produce. Fantastic!

While the world's farmers harvest enough food to feed the planet, it is estimated that up to 50% of the global food supply is wasted. Fenugreen, a Cambridge, MA based company is taking on this enormous, yet often overlooked, global challenge with a simple design, FreshPaper. Low-cost, compostable and infused only with organic spices, FreshPaper keeps produce fresh for 2-4x longer, and holds the potential to change how the world keeps its food fresh.

Kavita Shukla, a young inventor and designer, came across an old home remedy after accidentally drinking some tap water while visiting her grandmother in India. Her grandmother gave her a "spice tea," and when she didn't get sick, her curiosity was sparked. After years of experimenting with the spices (starting with a middle school science project), she discovered a new application of her grandmother's generations-old home remedy – a remarkably effective way to keep food fresh. She was awarded a patent for FreshPaper at the age of 17. Today FreshPaper is available in stores across the United States, including Whole Foods and Wegmans, and used by farmers and families in over 35 countries.

Shukla founded Fenugreen as a social enterprise to bring FreshPaper to those in need across the globe. FreshPaper is a simple sheet of paper infused with organic spices, which inhibit bacterial and fungal growth; amongst others – fenugreek, which inspired the company's name – and the ingeniously simple idea has the properties to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer.

As for usage, FreshPaper only needs to be placed wherever the produce is stored – in a refrigerator drawer, fruit bowl, or any other container (in or out of the fridge). Customers have described it as a "dryer sheet for produce" because it does not have to be in direct contact with the produce to work.

Spoilage contributes to major inventory, transportation, and labor inefficiencies across the global food value chain, costing $450 billion in economic losses each year. With 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050, addressing the challenge of food waste is particularly urgent. More than 1 billion people still live without access to basic refrigeration and food spoilage is a burden on the world’s most vulnerable communities: small-scale farmers who struggle to get their harvest to market, and families who cannot afford to eat fresh, healthy food.

How far this simple idea has gone in its relatively short life is likely encouraging aspiring inventors and enterprising young girls and women everywhere. Kavita has gone back and visited middle and high school students, brimming with ideas of their own, as she reinforces the importance of "taking the first step" by sheer example. "My grandmother inspired the invention; she was an inventor in her homeland largely out of necessity," she said. But two generations later, it is Kavita's own courage and single-mindedness that propels her "fresh for all" mission closer to a time when potentially millions of pounds of the world's harvest is more efficiently stored and distributed to those most in need.


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Terrific innovation for a global problem. Thank you!
9/29/2016 2:21:00 AM
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bdelmac, Federal Way WA
I had never heard of this before I "stumbled" onto it here on the website - WOW, now I want to get some because we are always throwing out fruits and veggies because they get icky. What a great idea and a money-saver!
6/7/2014 11:06:00 AM
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