It’s a fact: if we’re going to feed an estimated nine billion people by the year 2050, we need to stop wasting so much food.
New reports on food waste keep coming out and telling us the same things—for example, 30% of the food we grow is never eaten. For World Food Day last week, National Geographic published both a new piece and an iPad app about the problem. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of such a massive issue.
Enter Apeel Sciences. According to The Salt, Apeel Sciences has figured out how to double the lifespans of fruits and veggies. That’s absolutely huge.
What’s even more amazing is that they’re doing this using discarded parts of plants that would normally end up in a compost heap or landfill somewhere. Apeel Sciences is taking all these scraps and making a variety of edible, tasteless, odorless films for fruits and veggies, to be applied at both the grower and the grocer levels.
The company has raised ample amounts of money, conducted thousands of trials, and plans to bring three products to market starting in the first quarter of 2015, reports The Salt.
Here’s a look at how Apeel Sciences plans to change the world for the better.
The problem with preserving cut flowers is that their stems start to decay, so they can no longer effectively take up water. The flowers starve to death. Florapeel is a spray film that you apply to the cut stems of those flowers. It preserves those stems so they don’t decay as quickly, leading to an estimated 200% increase in cut flower lifespan.
Florapeel is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2015.
If you look at the image above and think about Jedi mind tricks, we don’t blame you. Invisipeel is essentially a way to enable fruits and veggies in fields to shield themselves from marauding insects and fungi by convincing those pests that they’re not actually food.
The Salt says this won’t completely eliminate the need for pesticides, but it could make a significant dent in world pesticide use. That’s definitely good news, since research released earlier this year shows that our pesticide use is on track to actually threaten world food supplies.
Finally, what happens when fruits and veggies get to your grocer? Some last longer than others, and coatings like waxes have been used to help prolong fruit shelf life for a long time. Apeel Science wants you to think about Edipeel as being a scientific extension of the capabilities of old-school wax—but so ultra-thin, colorless, odorless, and tasteless that you don’t even notice it.
The Cost of Technological Advancement
That’s great, but what about the costs to implement this brilliant new technology? If growers and grocers have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to start using these products, how quickly will we see them use it on a broad scale?
We don’t know exact dollar amounts at this time, but Apeel’s literature on each of these three products states that since they were developed from plant scraps, they were low-cost to produce.
Also, growers and grocers won’t have to buy any new equipment to apply these coatings. Existing equipment can handle it.
A huge part of the barrier to adopting new tech—even if we know it will make our lives significantly better—is always cost. If Apeel Science has truly manage to make it affordable, we’re excited for them (and us).