Paula Damon

Of all the National Days to miss, it had to be Clean Out Your Fridge Day on Nov. 15.

The refrigerator cleaning fairies had not dropped by for quite some time.

Soap, hot bucket of water, disinfectant, sponge, paper towels and garbage bag usually will do. In my case, a hammer and chisel and some dynamite might be necessary.

It’s not that I’m untidy. The problem is whatever lurks behind those doors is out of sight, out of mind.

The strategic timing for National Clean Out the Fridge Day – exactly one week before Thanksgiving – is to make room for all those leftovers. A nice problem to have.

Another issue is refrigerators are so spacious, measuring up to 30 cubic feet. A person could cook for the neighborhood or as my mother used to say, “Feed an army.”

With a fridge that size, food gets pushed to the back, forgotten and spoiled. The nasty part… digging around and finding suspicious looking items in varying stages of decomposition.

“What’s that?” my husband inquires.

One whiff and I pronounce it officially dead and destined for the garbage.

“It might still be good,” he adds.

Rolling my eyes, I use the “FP” words (food poisoning), warn him about rushing to ER if he takes as much as one bite and, heaven forbid, dies.

You see; that’s the difference between him and me. His sniffer doesn’t work and his taste buds are out to lunch. With those two things, it’s important for me to stay on top of what’s inside our fridge, which I seem to be failing miserably.

A stale loaf of white bread, now blue, not even fit for the birds.

Spoiled cheese and sour milk.

Looks like eggs or O.J. spilled on the top shelf and ran to the bottom, where a hard-yellow crust formed.

Potatoes like 10-eyed monsters with fleshy appendages and a serious case of wrinkles.

A bunch of carrots now orange mush.

And a bag of spinach turned to green slime.

Part of the problem is we’re still shopping and cooking for five. It’s been at least 15 years since our youngest moved out, leaving the two of us to fend for ourselves.

Plus, growing up food insecure, Brian needs to keep the fridge filled to the brim.

I really don’t like throwing away once perfectly good stuff now inedible. Makes me feel so dang guilty, especially when so many people are going without.

Maybe a smart fridge, digitized and internet connected, is the answer. Think of it as a cross between voice-command home assistants, like Siri or Alexa, and your smart phone.

With a smart fridge synced to your smart phone, you can have conversations with it. Plus, you can see what’s inside from anywhere, because it snaps selfies whenever the door closes. That’s supposed to help you keep track of what you already have and what to buy.

Some smart fridges work with online grocery shopping and recipe apps, automatically re-ordering when you are low on something.

This is all well and good, but what I really need is a Smart Self-cleaning Fridge. Wouldn’t that be something? Sends chills up my spine.

So, when National Clean Out the Fridge Day rolls around next year, yes, maybe I can check that off my list.

Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top national honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – the 2017 First Place Award in NFPW’s national writing competition. For more information, email


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