Produce at your local grocery store is likely coated in carnauba wax to keep it from perishing, but now, researchers at Rice University have discovered a new way to keep fruits and veggies fresh for longer with an innovative egg-based wash.
The new coating is great for vulnerable produce like bananas, strawberries, and avocados. It’s made up of mostly powdered egg whites and yolks, some wood-sourced cellulose to act as a barrier preventing water loss, antimicrobial curcumin, and glycerol for elasticity. It is incredibly thin and treated fruits retained most of their moisture over a two week trial period. The coating essentially amplifies the natural moisture retention and protection capabilities of produce skin.
In addition to protecting produce, the coating is malleable, tasteless, and can be removed by simply washing the produce with water. It also eliminates the need for synthetic coatings which are less environmentally friendly.
One-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste, including about 3 percent, or 200 million, of US-produced eggs. Using those excess eggs to protect produce that would otherwise spoil along the distribution line addresses food waste on multiple levels. We’ve covered Apeel Sciences, another company designing a food coating to boost the longevity of produce.
These natural solutions to stretching the lifespan of our fruits and vegetables is a great way to reduce food waste and the emissions that come from it and more effectively feed a growing population. This, combined with more localized production and regenerative farming has the power to completely overhaul our food systems!