Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Better Chemistry Through Breeding

I recently had the opportunity to visit the fabled heart of the USDA-ARS empire: Beltsville.

I heard all about the tornado that knocked down all the campus trees, smashed in the greenhouses and threw doors down hallways a few years ago, visited their food sensory lab (a controlled environment where fruit samples are passed through a wall to waiting taste testers), and saw greenhouses packed full of cacao (where research on one of my favorite fungi, Crinipellis perniciosa, is co-funded by M&M Mars Inc.).

But I was there mostly to visit the pepper breeding program.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plastic-Wrapped Bananas Not So Crazy?

The Daily Show ran a very funny bit on Del Monte's new single serving, plastic wrapped bananas the other night. Though they might not be as crazy as they sound...

h/t: Daily Mail:

These bananas, intended to be sold at convenience stores and gas stations, are wrapped in bags containing "Controlled Ripening Technology" (some sort of ethylene inhibitor?) that is said to extend shelf life up to 6 days. The bananas are placed in their bags while green and ripen more slowly than those piled on the shelf. They're being marketed as 'Natural Energy Snack on the Go,' for a U.S. cost of $1 each. 7-Eleven enthusiastically adopted these single serving bananas in thousands of stores last year due to customer disdain for brown bananas and the fewer (carbon/cost-intensive) deliveries that are required to stock produce with an extended shelf life.

It's also been pointed out that getting fresh, (culturally?)-appealing produce into quickie marts and bodegas in inner cities and isolated small towns might do more good alleviating food deserts than it does harm in generating extra trash.

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