Haven’t you ever finished your food and thought, “you know what, I’d really like to eat the container that this tasty treat arrived in?” We scrape the bottom of the ice cream container and the peanut butter jar, right? What if you could simply consume the contents then swallow the packaging. If a team of French scientists has their way, this will be the wave of the future, and will drastically cut down on packaging waste.
These scientists have developed a container that mimics the natural covering of fruits and vegetables. Foods, both solid and liquid, are wrapped in an eatable casing made out of a combination of algae and calcium. These membranes can be mixed with flavorings to match the food they contain. So far these coverings have been used to contain ice cream, yogurt, coffee, fizzy drinks, cheeses, soups, and more. You can bite into them like an apple, and for those containing liquid, poke a hole through the skin with a straw and sip out the goodness inside, like a coconut.
These WikiCells, as they are called, could drastically reduce food-packaging waste. This way you also avoid harmful chemicals associated with standard plastic and metal packaging.
Designed with a shelf life of six months, the WikiCells can be washed, again just like fruit. This aspect is intended to help reassure those among us concerned with these edible wrappers being juggled by numerous hands in the packing/shipping/retailing process. You can also simply toss the membrane in the garbage with a clean conscience since they are completely biodegradable. Personally, I might have to go with this last option. I don’t know if I could get past the idea of these little balls constantly being picked up, put down, and pawed at on grocery store shelves. I’m not a germaphobe, but I have limits.
Dr. David Edwards, the leader of the French group, is presently working with a number of companies with a goal of mass-producing WikiCell encased products. They’re building a large-scale production facility in Massachusetts, and Edwards expects these products to be readily available within five years.
The first product off the line will be Wiki Ice Cream. Expected to launch at the end of the summer, this delightful little treat is vanilla ice cream wrapped in a cookie dough flavored membrane.
This is one step closer to food coming in pill form; one step closer to a Jetsons style existence. They really need to use a term other than ‘membrane,’ however, I don’t think the general public finds that term particularly appetizing.