Nothing’s as frustrating as watching fruit and vegetables go bad right in front of your eyes. Browning bananas and withering tomatoes stand as a testament to your many flaws – as a food waster, as an unhealthy eater, as an overzealous grocery shopper. But a California-based startup may have found a way to greatly extend the life of your produce, and the process purports to be surprisingly natural.
Apeel Sciences offers two products, Edipeel and Invisipeel, that the New York Times describes as “imperceptible, edible barriers that the company says can extend the life of produce like green beans and berries by as much as five times.” Though skeptical types might assume we have some crazy new chemical on our hands, as the Times explains that both coatings “are derived primarily from the remains of produce that has been certified organic, like grape skins left over from wine production and stems left behind after broccoli is harvested” and “can be easily washed away with water.” The coatings apparently work by kind of “fooling” the microbes that cause produce to rot.
Though Apeel’s products aren’t making a major commercial impact yet, the company sees a wide array of possibilities. “It takes 30 days to get blueberries grown in Chile to market in the United States, which means they have to be picked before they’re ripe and shipped under heavy refrigeration,” Apeel founder and chief executive James Rogers told the Times. “We can change that.” But the company suggests other benefits as well, saying these coatings could reduce the need for pesticides or, by allowing fruits and vegetables to travel further, they could increase the variety of these foods we see at stores, letting farmers choose produce based on taste instead of simply what travels well. The company even sees potential far-out applications like a bunch of bananas where each one ripens on a different day.
Reportedly, the FDA has approved Edipeel, and the company has raised $40 million in funding. So at this point, Apeel says it’s simply negotiating with produce brands to put their products to use. It could lead to an amazing future: one where you’re kicking yourself for leaving a banana out to rot for six weeks instead of just two.