Like a lot of people, I eat food to stay alive, and I’m not wealthy. When it comes to grocery shopping, I am guided by American Capitalism to buy certain foods in bulk, and inevitably, some of that food goes to waste. The shelf-to-trash time span is even shorter with fresher foods like bread and fruits. It’s a highly infuriating thing to have just sliced some provolone while your butter was melting, only to realize your grilled cheese sandwich has been cancelled due to moldy bread. Texas-based company MicroZap is giving rise — no yeast included — to a new method of food preservation.
Chief executive Don Stull, working from a Texas Tech University in Lubbock, has developed a machine that works similarly to a home microwave, only with a specific and different purpose. With a slitted radiator, the device uses directional microwaves to nuke the items at varying doses and intensities, allowing it better precision at targeting microorganisms causing harmful diseases.
Its already noble purpose includes killing such harmful bacteria as E. coli and salmonella in products ranging from fruit to pet food, while retaining the original qualities. Though Stull says they were unable to treat cantaloupes effectively. Clever melons. Even MRSA, one of the more treatment-resistant infections, was shown to be removed in 99% of clothing in commercial washers and dryers adapted with MicroZap’s technology. On top of all that, the researchers later found the device could actually kill the spores responsible for the mold, and in merely 10 seconds.
Despite being a ridiculously effective method of lessening global food wastage, MicroZap’s microwave will probably get resistance from different angles, from bread manufacturers not looking to buy expensive new equipment to consumers initially unwilling to trust science to make their food last longer. It’s theorized that many of the additives involved in the preparation process can be omitted, and that chemicals used to mask the preservatives’ taste can also be left out, creating a better and, eventually, cheaper product, which is nice, since I find many national bread brands to taste perennially stale anyway. I’d have to assume bread companies would also be worried about a drop in purchasing due to a drop in demand, but that might work itself out somewhere along the line.
Ideally, this would be a few nails in the coffin of food-borne illnesses, and a cessation of food recalls would hopefully follow. And perhaps an abundance of food would bleed over into helping feed the hungry and homeless. If their cantaloupe is a little brown, they’ll just have to deal with that.