An Incredibly Simple Gadget Could Be Key to Longer-Lasting Fruit
Called the Green Heart, it contains a small packet of potassium crystals. They absorb ethylene, a gas released when fruit starts to ripen, leading to pigmentation and higher sugar levels. (Banana peels release the gas; that’s why putting them in a bag with other fruits speeds up the ripening process.) According to the makers, fruit can last about three days longer, and the refillable packets work for three to four months before you can toss it out in the garden or in the compost heap.
It’s a simple idea. Food waste is a major global problem. Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they buy, sending 161 billion dollars’ worth to landfills every year. According to the United Nations, a third of the planet’s food goes to waste, and 44 percent of it is fruits and vegetables.
Larry Thomas, the CEO of water filtration supply company Ahdorma, came up with the concept for Green Heart last year while helping his son with a school experiment.
“Our four-year-old [was excited] to watch [the ripening process] by putting some green bananas into a bag with apples,” said Thomas. “He expected to see the bananas turn yellow, of course, but it takes a little time. As I tried to explain why, an idea sparked. What if you could slow down the process?”
His team at Ahdorma developed Green Hearts based on the work of a plant sciences specialist at the University of California, Davis. Florists and produce suppliers use similar strategies on a larger scale to keep their products fresh.
“There are similar products out there,” said Thomas, “but to our knowledge Green Hearts are the only ones that are refillable, that have inner material that’s 100 percent organic, made in the U.S., and child friendly. It closes in a way that’s designed only for adults to open.”
To develop the gadget, which costs $9 a pair, Thomas’ team is crowdsourcing funds on Kickstarter.
Rejecting perfectly edible produce because of bumps and bruises has become such a major problem for the food industry that some are taking things into their own hands by opening supermarkets and cafés that only use “ugly” fruits and veggies. Consumers can do their part by not being so judgmental about the goods in their pantry. For those who prefer their food to look pretty, Green Hearts may be a good option. But environmentally conscious buyers beware: One con is that it’s made out of plastic.
“We explored different materials for our first prototype, but BPA-free plastic is the best option economically speaking for the time being,” said Thomas. “We’re exploring ways to remove plastic from the equation.”