Edible packaging isn’t a brand-new idea. In the natural world, all sorts of fruit and produce come in their own protective (and once-washed) completely delicious wrapping. Potato skins are a delicacy unto themselves, and the exteriors of lemons are not only hydrophobic, but make for incredible, aromatic and flavorful additions to baked goods and all sorts of savory dishes. Human-made foods like sausages, Scotch eggs, savory pies, mochi (Japanese ice cream or candy that’s served in sweet, soft glutinous rice shell) are proof-positive that packages that could be transported and eaten later have endured for thousands of years and even become part of food culture.
More recently, chefs have even been experimenting with the idea; Heston Blumenthal is known for his ‘don’t bother unwrapping them’ caramels, with ‘wrappers’ made of glycerine, gelatin, and water that anyone can make at home. Beyond the novelty of this concept is the idea that we could genuinely reduce waste—and maybe even package food better. Perpeceuticals, based in the UK, just won a grant to develop edible, anti-microbial films for meat that would help them last longer on supermarket shelves (and in fridges at home), leading to less food waste.
Wasting less food, and creating less waste while we do it; definitely and idea worth pursuing (and worth working out the consumer challenges it may face).
Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick and author of The Eco-Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Press). A green living expert, she contributes to The Huffington Post and Mother Nature Network (MNN.com)