A sort of funny meme started going around Instagram back in January, around the time many people resolved to get back to the gym and eat a healthier diet; a picture of a bag of lettuce with the caption, “should I wait two weeks or just throw this away now?” Only sort of funny because in actuality it is sad to throw away a perfectly good lettuce that has turned to wilted brown mush after sitting in the refrigerator for two weeks, untouched. Wasting food is harsh on many levels, not least of which is the pocket. A carton of strawberries, which are the canary in the refrigerator when it comes to mold and spoilage, can cost as much as $8.99 at some local markets here in Manhattan, yet their shelf life is very short; after just two days 50% of the contents are already grey and furry with mold. I have thrown away pounds of once fresh produce that has rotted inside ziplock bags, always with a heavy pang of remorse. When I learned there is a gadget that keeps fruit and veggies fresh through activated oxygen I thought I would give it a try.
When I first heard about BerryBreeze, I pictured some kind of complex creation like the fictional mad scientist Walter Bishop was famous for on FOX’s popular science fiction show, “Fringe”. It turned out I was just ignorant of the science, which is a common occurrence in nature. BerryBreeze generates activated oxygen by a method known as “corona discharge”, or electrically charged oxygen, aka ozone, which has a lifespan of only a few minutes before converting back to oxygen. Ozone is an unstable gas whose half-life is approximately 30 minutes. While stable, the third oxygen molecule fights to break free, destroying polluting organic molecules by “oxidizing” them. The third oxygen atom attaches, eliminating pollutants, effectively disinfecting microbes, yeast, fungi, molds, Ethylene gas, and deodorizing.
The BerryBreeze unit is pretty cute, actually, and looks something like a tiny droid from “Star Wars”, sitting at the back of the refrigerator, emitting an intermittent green light to let you know it is doing its thing. The real test was seeing how it worked with all the bags of veggies piled in the crisper drawers and berries stored away in plastic containers. It works with food that is enclosed or kept in drawers, but even the avocado half I left laying unwrapped on the top shelf was still pretty appetizing after two days. The real surprise was the bag of Boston lettuce that was forgotten for almost two weeks in the bottom drawer of the fridge; it was still green and yellow with no brown spots or wilting. A bunch of scallions and half a red onion were still decent looking and usable after two weeks hanging out together in the top drawer of the fridge. And the other thing that was very noticeable after about a month of use was that odors were gone. The BerryBreeze keeps cheese, yogurt, milk and meats fresh, too.
Apparently flatulent cows and automobiles are not the only contributors to the depletion of our planet’s ozone layer; food waste has become a worldwide epidemic that impacts all of us, with discarded food one of the country’s largest sources of methane emissions. Wasted food, discarded packaging, and even the gas used to drive back and forth to the grocery store affects our environment. In June 1997, a panel of experts convened by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) declared ozone to be GRAS (“Generally Recognized As Safe”) for direct contact with food. In 2001, in response to a Food Additive Petition filed by the EPRI, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ozone for use as an antimicrobial agent for direct contact with foods, food storage and processing. Ozone is also used to treat air and water in many important applications to help purify the environment and promote better health.
BerryBreeze is particularly beneficial for those who like to juice fresh fruit and vegetables every day, and keep their ingredients cut and ready for easy access in the fridge. The process of juicing can be time consuming, so it is easier to wash and prep the raw foods days in advance and just grab the carrots, apples, beets, celery or whatever your choice is right off the shelf and throw into the juicer. Since I placed the BerryBreeze unit in my fridge, I can now keep all the veggies loose and unpacked on the top shelf, which makes it very efficient when I am rushing to make a fresh juice drink in the morning. And here’s another handy thing about BerryBreeze, use this code, GetBerryBreeze, and readers can get $10.00 off a new unit at www.tryberrybreeze.com.