Fresh food without the fridge

Sensemaking / Fresh food without the fridge

Do you really need a fridge? Power-free food storage comes into its own.

11 Apr 2012

Do you really need a fridge? Power-free food storage comes into its own.

As much as we fill them with food, fridges are the hungriest white goods appliances in the home – at least when it comes to energy consumption. Switched on 24 hours a day, fridges and freezers are costing UK households £1.5 billion worth of electricity every year, even with significant improvements in efficiency. So it begs the question: do we really need to keep so much food so cold in the first place?

Korean designer Jihyun Ryou has created a series of simple storage solutions aimed at keeping a range of food fresh, without using power to cool it. Fruit and vegetables, for example, continue absorbing oxygen in the air and releasing carbon dioxide, water vapour and heat as they ripen and decompose. So, Ryou's units and their materials are designed to slow the rate of decomposition through temperature, light and humidity control. Vegetables like peppers and tomatoes last longer in moderate temperatures and high humidity, whereas many root vegetables can be stored for months in damp sand. Ryou's use of water, sandboxes, beeswax, rice and wood provide natural and energy free ways of creating a microclimate suitable to various food types. She also uses combination storage techniques: for example, apples emit ethylene as they ripen, which speeds up ripening of other fruit – but also prevents potatoes and onions from sprouting.

The units help demonstrate that effective technology doesn't have to mean high technology; it can simply mean acknowledging natural systems and working within those parameters. Sometimes innovation means making old wisdom new again, and reincarnating techniques from the past to provide relevant solutions for the future. – Jasmine Kubski

Photo: Jihyun Ryou

What might the implications of this be? What related articles have you seen?

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