Supermarkets are saturated with so many similar products, that the only way to differentiate one cereal from another is to package it in a sexy new way. This sometimes leads to superfluous packaging like peeled bananas sold in individual plastic wrappings . Not only is this a total paradox, since plastic packaging is contrary to the organic philosophy, but bananas exemplify organic packaging at its best, as their skins keep the flesh fresh and clean.
David Edwards, a French-American Harvard bioengineer has taken inspiration from natural food packaging found in fruit – such as peaches and grapes – and engineered edible food packaging called WikiCells that can basically surround any food or beverage with a skin like a grape skin that’s fully edible.
The soft skin of WikiCells is made from vegetal elements such as fruit, nuts, grains, and even chocolate, using only a tiny portion of chitosan (chemical polymer) or alginate (algae extract). These particles carry an electrostatic charge and can be gelatinized with ions of e.g. calcium or magnesium, in order to create the skin. In fact there is no limit to the flavours, and the team continues to expand its range.
The WikiCells typically come in mono-bites, serving ice-cream, yoghurts, mousses, juices, cheeses, and even coffe and cocktails. In mass-distribution outlets, WikiCells come in the from of shells, not dissimilar to a coconut shell, which is fully biodegradable.
WikiCells’ goal is to widely popularise the idea of edible food packaging, and eventually release domestic machines for food packaging, enabling consumers themselves to limit excessive food packaging one taste treat after the other.