Shalom Life | May 03, 2015

Israeli Professors Keep Veggies Fresh For a Month, Without a Fridge

New technology out of Hebrew University extends shelf-life of produce, though it may not yet be viable for the market

By: Tanya Grabarnik

Published: April 30th, 2015 in Health » World

Dr. Rivka Elbaum from Hebrew University's Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quantity Sciences, Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, has invented a solution that delays the natural aging process undergone by fresh produce, in some instances by up to a month.

The solution works by delaying senescence and chlorophyll loss in leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, celery, spinach, and others. The solution is still under development but has already been patented in Israel and the United States.

The ingredients are being kept secret for the time being but a spokesperson for Yissum, the technology transfer company for Hebrew University, said at Agritech 2015 in Tel Aviv:

“We've been speaking with some large organizations, such as food wholesalers, who are very interested in working with us. We're still working on the form of the delivery for the solution – possibly as a mist spray in the produce section of the supermarket, with the sprayers using our solution instead of water. One application is enough to keep lettuce leaves fresh for a month, but it's not clear that further applications will preserve the leaves for a longer period.”

In addition to grocery store application, the technology could also prove useful in developing areas such as parts of India and Africa, where farmers with few economic resources are often forced to sell fresh produce below-market value due to lack of access to electricity for refrigeration, and limited transportation infrastructure. The produce wilts before they can get it to the cities, where they could sell it for market-value rather than at reduced rates.

By applying the solution to their produce, farmers could extend shelf-life and win some much needed time to transport their produce to cities - where they could charge market-value prices and potentially break the cycle of poverty that so many farmers fall victim to.

Potentially.

What still needs to be considered is how this solution can be made available to farmers. If it is offered for sale, will they be able to afford it? Will farmers who cannot afford it be impoverished further for not being able to compete with those who can?

Only time will tell.

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