There’s nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a fresh piece of fruit, is there? That’s why it’s so incredibly shocking when you open your fridge to find mold has overtaken your ripe cantaloupe!! Mold is a constant enemy in the fight to protect fruit, but one team of scientists is trying to win the battle once and for all — with help from packaging!
In 2017 Americans sent 8.8 million tons of food to landfills, and nearly 40% of that waste was comprised of fruits and vegetables. In an effort to lower those numbers, scientists are developing a type of packaging that can keep fruit from spoiling so quickly.
Fresh fruit is particularly difficult to package for a number of reasons. First of all, you’ve got that dreaded mold we already talked about. Fruit is naturally moist, which makes it a great place for mold and bacteria to grow. Take away the moisture and that risk lessens, but biting into a dried banana chip just isn’t quite the same as the real deal.
The other challenge in packaging fresh fruit is that most of them produce ethylene. No, not the plucky neighbor from I Love Lucy — Ethylene is a gas that helps fruit ripen, but if it becomes trapped by packaging it can quickly lead to rot.
Knowing that traditional plastic wrap would trap those gases, the team went back to the drawing board and found inspiration from an unlikely packaging material — clay. Porous clay tubes incorporated into the wrap absorb ethylene produced by the fruit and prevent oxygen from entering.
The result? Fruits wrapped in the new material stayed fresher, firmer and more colorful than those wrapped in plastic. They were also juicier because the film prevented moisture from escaping, and were able to stave off most bacteria growth for a week and a half! Color us impressed — no, color us hungry!
Preventing food waste is a noble cause and one that we at Ernest stand behind firmly. Proper packaging can make a huge impact on our ecological footprint. See how other companies are using packaging to help keep food in your kitchen and out of landfills.