A gazpacho-stuffed tomato membrane? If edible packaging catches on, it could transform the way we eat—and how much plastic we waste.
Some people have a lot of ideas. Inventor and chemical engineer David Edwards chronicles the ones he makes happen on his personal website—everything from text books he's written to new companies he's started. In the past, he figured out a way to make and sell "breathable" food, but his latest idea, and the startup he founded to commercialize it, is one that actually may change the way we eat.
WikiCells is a form of edible packaging that will attempt to eliminate society's wasteful addiction to packaging—millions of tons worth end up in landfills each year, according to the EPA. According to the new venture's website, the idea for WikiCells is rooted in the way nature has always delivered nutrients: in a digestible skin "held together by healthy ions like calcium." Apples, potatoes, tomatoes: they all have an edible exterior that protects the treat within. Even something that isn't exactly delicious—like a citrus peel—finds its way into the kitchen in the form of zest.
"This soft skin may be comprised primarily of small particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or many other natural substances with delicious taste and often useful nutrients," writes the WikiCells team. "Inside the skin may be liquid fruit juice, or thick pudding." So far Edwards and his collaborators—chief among them the industrial designer François Azambourg—have experimented with a gazpacho-stuffed tomato membrane, a wine-filled grape-like shell, and an orange juice-laden orb with a shell that tastes like, you guessed it, an orange. Possibilities like an edible milk bottle or yogurt container are not out of the question.
This summer WikiCells plans to market ice cream in an edible shell to a French audience—a high-tech version of something the Japanese have long enjoyed: ice cream-stuffed mochi.
Image courtesy of WikiCells