We buy those bags of oranges and cartons of kale with such high hopes and good intentions. Yet some portion of them always seems to wind up fuzzed with mold beneath the bananas or slimey and brown in the back of the fridge. Food waste is a huge problem, not just in our own kitchen, but globally. About a third of all food produced for human consumption gets wasted each year, resulting in some $990 billion in financial loss and an enormous toll on the environment. How do we improve these figures? Perhaps some of these technologies can help.
Catch that Ethylene
Ethylene gas is produced by some fruits, including apples and bananas, when they start to ripen; too much ethylene can cause produce to rot prematurely. The food industry has long used ethylene absorbers, often in the form of sachets, filters or films, to prevent early ripening and rot during shipment. But in recent years such products have been targeted directly at consumers. Bluapple, which looks like, well, a blue plastic apple, can be tucked into your produce drawer to suck up excess ethylene by oxidizing it with sodium permanganate. Other commercial products, such as Keep Fresh, promise similar results—fruits and veggies that last as much as three times longer.