How Canadian Technology Is Tackling The Food Waste Crisis
Despite rising food insecurity, $31 billion of it is wasted every year in Canada, a number soaring to $1 trillion worldwide as 30 per cent of food goes uneaten. The vast majority of food waste happens at production, processing and retail levels rather than on the consumer side.
To help address this, France famously passed unanimous legislation requiring supermarkets to either give unsold food to charity or send it to farmers for use as feed and fertilizer. Here in Canada, food rescue organizations like Second Harvest help get unspoiled food from retailers, manufacturers, restaurants and caterers to charities, delivering ingredients for over 22,000 meals daily.
But we live in hi-tech times, so technology is also being used as a weapon in the war on food waste. Here’s a look at how homegrown Canadian tech is trying to tackle our food waste crisis.
- Nanotechnology: Jay Subramanian, a plant agriculture professor at the University of Guelph, and his team of biotech scientists have devised a food spray that the CBC reports “uses a nanotechnology-based application of hexanal, a natural plant extract that prevents fruit spoilage.”
- App: Flashfood “is essentially the discount food rack on your cellphone and it’s a means for grocery stores, restaurants, food vendors, being able to resell their surplus food before they’re going to throw it out,” founder and CEO Josh Domingues told CityTV.
- App: Ubifood is a Montreal-based competitor to Flashfood, giving geolocation-based real-time push notifications to inform users of discounted food in their area that might otherwise be thrown out by the end of the day.
- GMOs: Despite continuing if unfounded public skepticism over GMOs, B.C.-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits has received approval by Canadian and American authorities to sell their signature non-browning Arctic Apple.
Read the full article here.
This groundbreaking technology will soon let us see exactly what’s in our food
Imagine a scanner the size of a grain of rice, built into your phone. You go to the grocery store and point it at something you want to buy. If it’s an apple, the scanner will tell you what variety it is, how much vitamin C it has and how long it has been in cold storage. If it’s a fish, you’ll learn whether it’s really orange roughy or just tilapia being passed off as something more expensive. If it’s a muffin, the device will tell you whether there’s gluten in it.
Although you won’t be able to do it tomorrow, this isn’t some kind of distant Jetsonian vision of the future. I’ve held the rice-size scanner in my hand; it was built for only a few dollars. I’ve seen bigger, more robust versions of the scanner do the things that your smartphone will be able to do, probably during the administration of the president we’re deciding on right now.
Every substance reflects (and absorbs) light in a different way, and the graph of that reflected light is a kind of optical fingerprint. Except it’s better. Although the whorls and lines in our fingertips don’t say anything inherent about their owner (See that swirl? Doesn’t mean you’re smart.), the peaks and valleys of the optical fingerprint do. That peak there is vitamin C. That other one is sugar. This pattern means gluten.
Identifying a food and its characteristics based on the scan is a twofold job: First, you simply match the optical reading to a library of known objects; second, you read the topography of the graph to zero in on specific characteristics. The two together can tell you an awful lot about what you’re scanning.
Read the full article here.
Food Manufacturers Considering The Use of Nanotechnology
Researchers and scientists in the food manufacturing industry are considering the advantages of using nanotechnology in their life. This may sound like science fiction to some, but many researchers already believe that nanotechnology could greatly improve the overall taste and flavor of food, as well as offer other substantial benefits. Although, like most new concepts in the food industry, the FDA is keeping a close eye on the development of nanotechnology.