The Anti-Refrigerator: Preserve Produce With No Electricity

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Living without a refrigerator can be hard. Indeed, this one appliance alone accounts for at least one sixth of our electric bill. But Amsterdam designer Jihyun Ryou has devised a way to kill the refrigerator from the electric bill with using a non-electric set of five wall-mounted devices that help keep food fresh.

Said devices are designed from something resembling pre-industrial revolution era stuff. They consist entirely of natural materials such as wood, glass, rice and water. The base material for each device is made from maple wood treated with beeswax. They are so low tech, that with the right amount of craftsmanship, anybody could presumably build something similar.

"This project is about traditional oral knowledge which has been accumulated from experience and transmitted by mouth to mouth," says Ryou. "Particularly focusing on the food preservation, it looks at a feasible way of bringing that knowledge into everyday life."

One device is basically two small sandboxes meant to vertically store root vegetables like carrots or beats, which is supposed to keep them fresh. A small glass funnel is inserted at the top to add water to the sand, ensuring proper humidity. By keeping the vegetable in a vertical position, energy is saved and stays freshness preserved.

There's also a small glass tray of water where vegetables are placed. The water slowly evaporates, keeping the vegetables from drying out. A small glass funnel is inserted into the wooden structure to replenish the water tray.

The apple and potato storage box is unique because these two edibles share a special relationship. Apples are placed in holes over the potatoes, emitting ethylene gas to keep the potatoes, which are stored in a space below apples, from sprouting..

Then there is the spice rack. Each jar is sealed with a cork lid containing rice that absorbs the humidity.

And there is the egg rack that accommodates a jar of water. The egg shell contains millions of holes which absorb smells and substances from its immediate environment. This, says Ryou, is why eggs kept in the refrigerator go bad over time. The jar of water is to test the freshness of the eggs: drop an egg in jar, the further it sinks, the fresher it is.

Ryou's intention in designing this system is not so much to help us save electricity, but to force us to pay attention to the food we eat...not just in a subconscious way, but in very practical terms.

"Observing the food and therefore changing the notion of food preservation," says Ryou, "we could find the answer to current situations such as the overuse of energy and food wastage. I believe that once people are given a tool that triggers their minds and requires a mental effort to use it, new traditions and new rituals can be introduced into our culture."

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