When I was a kid, the future promised all kinds of whiz-bang technologies. Jet boots. Robot maids, like on “The Jetsons.” And, most exciting for a 12-year-old with a subscription to Gourmet magazine, “smart” refrigerators that performed tricks like alerting you to eat that lettuce in the back of the produce drawer before it spoiled and went to waste.
Smart refrigerators finally do exist. (Sadly, I’m still waiting for jet boots.) For about $4,000, I can have a fridge that generates recipes based on what’s on the shelves and tells me when I’m out of milk. But no matter how smart the appliance is, it still cannot warn me when those pricey strawberries from the farmers market are about to get moldy or when that bunch of cilantro is about to turn black. Nor will it be able to assuage my guilt for forgetting about them and wasting food.
Happily, there is a better, low-tech solution to that problem: FreshPaper, which looks like small, square paper towels. They are infused with a mixture of organic spices and botanicals that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth and extend the life of quickly perishable produce. One sheet of maple-scented FreshPaper helped my basket of very ripe strawberries last more than a week in the fridge. A sheet tossed into a plastic bag with cilantro helped the herb last about 10 days.