Americans are beginning to wake up to the idea that food waste is a serious problem. According to the USDA, 30 to 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away.
Food waste is a terrible drain on the average household bank account and is morally questionable at a time when one in eight Americans are food insecure.
Add to that, the environmental impact is staggering. Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of America's freshwater consumption and approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year.
A big reason why so much food goes to waste is that it spoils or people refuse to eat items past their sell-by date. Fruit and vegetables aren't ripe for long, so they're often the first things thrown out.
Apeel Sciences, a company founded with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has come up with an ingenious way to make avocados last twice as long, and they will soon be available across the country.
Apeel created a special substance that it sprays on the fruit which mimics its natural peel. This slows down water loss and oxidation — the factors that cause spoilage.
"When we deposit them on a piece of produce and it dries, the result is that we form this special structure, this special barrier, which mimics that structure which is employed by longer shelf life produce," James Rogers, Apeel's CEO, told Wired.
Kroger, America's second largest grocery chain, announced last week that Apeel's avocados will be available in over 1,100 stores across the U.S. as part of its Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact initiative.
In addition, the grocery giant will be adding Apeel asparagus and Apeel limes to its stores in the Cincinnati market.
Apeel's products are a win-win for customers as well as the grocery stores. Longer shelf-life means less waste for stores as well.
"Apeel's innovative food-based solution has proven to extend the life of perishable produce, reducing food waste in transport, in our retail stores and in our customers' homes," Kroger said in a press release.
"Kroger is leading the way to alleviate the food waste crisis at every level, from its supply chain to its retail stores to the homes of over 11 million customers who shop at Kroger every day," Rogers said in a statement.
"We're excited to expand our partnership with Kroger to further prevent food waste while simultaneously giving families more access and time to enjoy healthy fresh produce," he continued.
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