Keep It Fresh

8 Aug

In our daily food consumption habits the majority of us are accustomed to keeping our food fresh through refrigeration.  And many of us in Canada and the US have large refrigerators to do just that.  However, considering how much energy it takes to run a fridge, are there other ways to keep food fresh?  We came across an article from Treehugger titled, “Saving Food From The Fridge: It Will Taste Better, May Even Last Longer And Reduce Your Energy Bills” and it had a few helpful tips for those of us thinking about reducing our fridge use…

© Jihyun Ryou

Fridges are a recent invention; for thousands of years, people lived without them, but had many low-tech ways of making food last. Today most fridges are filled with stuff that would last just as long and probably would taste a lot better if it was never lost in the back of the fridge. They are expensive air conditioned parking lots for what Shay Salomon called “compost and condiments.”

© Jihyun Ryou Keeping roots in a vertical position allows the organism to save energy and remain fresh for a longer time. This shelf gives a place for them to stand easily, using sand. At the same time, sand helps to keep the proper humidity.

Korean designer Jihyun Ryou, has developed a series of modern designs that rely on traditional techniques, learned from her grandmother and other elderly people in the community, the ” traditional oral knowledge which has been accumulated from experience and transmitted by mouth to mouth.”

Here is an interesting and complicated example. Many fruits give off ethylene gas as they ripen; a lot of people put their tomatoes in paper or plastic bags to make them ripen faster. That’s why putting fruit is a fridge is so silly, the ethylene builds up inside the sealed box and the fruit goes rotten faster. But some vegetables react differently to ethylene; with potatoes and onions, it suppresses the sprouting process. Put a banana in a plastic bag with a potato and the banana will be rotten in no time, but the potato won’t sprout. Jihyun Ryou’s response: “Apples emit a lot of ethylene gas. It has the effect of speeding up the ripening process of fruits and vegetables kept together with apples. When combined with potatoes, apples prevent them from sprouting.”

© Jihyun Ryou

“The more food you can keep out of the fridge, the smaller it needs to be and the less energy it will consume. The designs described above show a refreshing way to do that, although it should be remembered that these are artworks, not consumer products. Using similar methods when storing food in a basement or a specially designed root cellar – the traditional way – will give better results.”

Smaller fridges use less energy, of course, take up less space and make good cities. Furthermore, these techniques are not relics from the past, they are templates for the future. In the hands of a talented designer, they can look beautiful, too.

Some people are designing their kitchens without refrigerators altogether (see photo below from treehugger.com) and others,  like Vanessa Farquharson, are getting rid of their fridges step by step.  What food preservation tips (new or old) do you use??  Leave us a comment!

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