‘FreshPaper’ May Hold Key to Preserving More of World’s Produce

Fresh Paper is a five by five sheet of spice-infused paper that keeps produce fresh two to four times longer by inhibiting bacteria, fungus, and enzymes that degrade produce. (J. Chris Vaughan)

Fenugreen's organic spice-infused paper may be a key innovation for achieving food security by extending the life of produce and greatly reducing food spoilage.

According to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage rates of all food. The Natural Resources Defense Council has found that 40 percent of all food produced for human consumption in the United States alone goes to waste.

The lack of access that 1.3 billion people worldwide have to refrigeration and other techniques to store and prepare food safely contributes to the high levels of food wasted globally. While the world’s farmers produce enough food to feed the world’s hungry, 1.3 billion tons of the global food supply are lost annually to spoilage.

Fenugreen, a grassroots company with no funding or marketing budget, was founded by Kavita Shukla in 2010. Fenugreen's FreshPaper is infused with organic spices that keeps produce fresh two to four times longer by inhibiting bacteria, fungus, and enzymes that degrade produce. In addition to being a low-cost solution to food waste, the sheets have a low-environmental-footprint. FreshPaper is compostable, biodegradable, and reusable.

FreshPaper's first consumers included farmers and food vendors at the farmer's markets and street fairs of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently, FreshPaper is used by farmers and families worldwide.

Fenugreen is establishing initiatives to benefit small-scale farmers in the developing world while also pursuing efforts to increase the use of FreshPaper by U.S. food banks and small farmers. Fenugreen's Buy a Pack, Give a Pack initiative promises to donate one package of FreshPaper to food banks or nonprofits in less-economically developed countries for every package sold.

Globally, it is now common for food banks to serve as a last frontier for produce that would otherwise be discarded. In recent years, U.S. food banks have also made stronger efforts to improve the nutritional value of their offerings by seeking out more fresh produce to add to their stores of canned and processed food donations. Consequently, food banks have realized that increased produce on their shelves requires them to find ways to keep more of it fresh.

Food and agricultural advocates and organizations believe that achieving global food security is not simply about increasing food production in the global food system, but making the most use of the existing food supply. Preventing food spoilage and keeping food fresh is instrumental to ensuring that more of the food already produced goes to those who need it.

FreshPaper has won design and innovation awards, including the 2013 Sustainable Brands Innovation Open, for its simplicity, cost-friendliness and efficacy in reducing food waste and making significant headway toward global food security.

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