Food packaging is an understandably contentious issue -- not only does it end up in our oceans and landfills, languishing for decades, it can also be harbouring unwanted toxins like BPA in the case of canned food. In attempts to lessen the impact of packaging, we've seen initiatives in supermarkets to completely eliminate food packaging, or to devise some kind of packaging that's edible too so it doesn’t end up in the environment.
Two years ago, we wrote about WikiCells, a form of edible packaging developed by Harvard professor David Edwards, designer François Azambourg and biologist Don Ingber, modelled after the way nature "deliciously designs" the exterior "packaging" of cells, fruits and vegetables.
After years of research, development and raising funds, the culmination is the WikiPearl, a bite-sized morsel of food that is wrapped in a plastic-free packaging that protects the food, but is also edible and biodegradable. Made of a "protective electrostatic gel formed by harnessing interactions between natural food particles, nutritive ions and a polysaccharide," this skin is water- and oxygen-impenetrable, and is inspired by nature itself, as the creators explain:
Imagine for a second the skin of a grape or a coconut. WikiPearl skins are inspired by the way nature packages fruits and vegetables. These skins are delicious protective coatings against water loss and contaminant entry, and potential carriers of effective and functional nutrition.
The WikiFood technology protects the wrapped food or beverage without exposing it to unnatural materials or chemicals while also delivering benefits of health, convenience and a food experience like nothing else.
The science behind WikiPearl is also balanced with a good dose of gastronomy; foods like ice cream, cheese, frozen yogurt, vegetables, cocktails, soups and even water are being paired with different, nutritional and tasty packaging to form controlled portions, which can be held in the hand without melting.
If you want to try the future of food for yourself, WikiPearls are now being sold in select Whole Foods locations in Massachussetts, and ice cream connoisseurs will be delighted to hear that a "WikiBar" will be opening up in Cambridge, Massachussetts in July, 2014. More over at WikiPearl.