It’s a fairly stunning statistic: Half the produce we grow is thrown away and even more rots before it can be shipped or eaten. We chuck so many tons of fruit and vegetables that simply eating ugly food would dramatically drive down hunger and possibly solve the world’s food supply problems altogether. Of course, that assumes we could ship this stuff where it needs to go most, which is hard since even ugly food spoils fast. That’s where a company called Apeel comes in.
The basic idea is simple: By making a coating out of agricultural byproducts — the inedible and unusable bits of plants we were throwing out anyway — Apeel’s products trick fungi, bacteria, and others into thinking it’s not a delicious berry or tomato, but inedible junk. It also slows the interchange of liquid and gas that encourages the rot process, although the coating won’t last forever. It also washes off easily and is odorless, tasteless, and harmless.
The pitch matters a lot more than just ensuring you’ll actually eat all the fruit you buy. We spend an enormous amount of water and power growing, freezing, and shipping produce to supermarkets around the world. Reducing rot and blemishes would save a lot of that, reducing the footprint agriculture makes on the planet. Apeel even has a product with the goal of reducing pesticide use. There’s a lot of potential impact, but, of course, growers have to use it first. It’s been approved by the FDA, so we’ll see just how much appeal this product has.
(Via The New York Times)