It's estimated that 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted. A big chunk of that is wasted somewhere between the farm and our homes, but we as consumers are responsible for a lot of that waste too. Much of the food we toss could be saved by smarter shopping and meal plans, but many times the produce goes bad before we get a chance to eat it.
I know in my household where we do a good bit of meal planning and try to systematically use things in the fridge with the shortest shelf life first, we still have to toss some unused fruits or veggies at the end of the week. It always hurts a bit because it feels like money wasted and we know it was nutrition wasted too.
There are products out there that can help preserve your produce for longer, but many of them produce more waste through the use of disposable plastic bags. A new low-tech gadget up on Kickstarter claims to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for three times longer without any added waste and using organic ingredients.
The Green Heart is a small plastic case shaped like a heart that you can throw into your refrigerator's crisper drawer. Inside is a pouch filled with potassium permanganate crystals, which neutralizes the excess ethylene gas that fruits and vegetables emit as they ripen. The more of the ethylene gas fruit and vegetables are exposed to, the faster they ripen and then spoil. The packet controls the gas to keep them fresh longer.
The creators had safety in mind with this product too. The case has childproof latches so that kids can't open it and get to the crystals, it's made from BPA-free plastic and the crystals, which are organic and non-toxic, can be tossed into a compost pile or garden when it's time for a new pouch.
"We were floored when we realized just how much perfectly good food goes to waste simply because it goes bad before people can eat it," Tami Brehse, one of the creators, said to FastCoExist. "Americans throw out some 35 billion tons of food every year. We knew there had to be a way to put a dent in the food waste epidemic."
The Kickstarter campaign still has 7 days left with a few thousand more dollars to go. A pledge of $9 gets you two Green Hearts and a six-month supply of packet refills when they go into production.