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Would You Eat Silk-Dipped Strawberries?

Yum, silk-dipped strawberries. How decadent. Continue reading →

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Half of the world's food supply is thrown out every year, owing largely to inefficiencies in transport and storage. Food, well, spoils.

Many, many concepts have been floated to attempt to improve the food-waste situation. Some are simple consumer-facing solutions, like convincing people to eat less-than-perfect produce, reducing the size of the average refrigerator, or encouraging people to shop more often and for less food at a time.

Some are more complex: improving the shipping infrastructure or refrigerated compartments, genetically modifying plants to spoil slower, and now a new, luxurious-sounding proposal from Tufts University researchers: liquid silk.

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Liquid silk, referred to by scientists as a "regenerated silk fibroin solution," is basically what it sounds like. Actual silk, if you don't spin it into a fiber for textiles, is an unusual sort of protein that can be dissolved in water to form a solution.

That solution has been of a great deal of interest to scientists; it is remarkably strong for its weight, can be easily manipulated, and, interestingly enough, can be safely digested by humans with no ill effects.

The Tufts researchers wanted to see if a silk solution could be used to delay spoilage of fruits; they picked strawberries and bananas because these fruits spoil easily. When strawberries were dipped in this silk solution four times, and then compared with non-silken strawberries after a week, the researchers found that the silk fruit remained bright red, juicy, and fresh, while the control fruit had become dehydrated, soft, and probably unlikely to sell had they been at a supermarket.

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The silk, though the layer was thinner than the diameter of a human hair, had effectively blocked the environmental stressors that cause fruit to go bad, including carbon dioxide and oxygen.

On the other hand, the big question is: What does it taste like? From the study: "The thin, odorless silk coating did not affect fruit texture. Taste was not studied."

More From Modern Farmer:

This story originally appeared on Modern Farmer.

Photographer

Radu Zaciu

creates surreal still life images by placing light bulbs inside fruits and vegetables. "Pear in German is Gluehbirne, literally meaning 'glowing pear," Zaciu said. "I introduced a small light bulb into a pear creating the first photo of this series."

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"When I saw how beautiful the surface of the fruit looks," Zaciu said. "I decided to try the same with other fruits and vegetables."

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"Initially I carved into the fruits," he said, "but later, in order to have a homogenous dispersion of light and an ideal size of the hole I started drilling into them."

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Zaciu said not all fruits are cut out for the treatment, though this melon produced a nice effect.

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"I was also surprised that veggies with smooth surface like bell peppers or tomatoes don't look interesting," he said. Pictured: a suitably textured veggie.

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One of his favorites was a

cauliflower

: "After the first photo I knew this is something special." Here, seeds from a strawberry block the light.

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A lit kiwi creates as a busy, random pattern.

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Some produce doesn't make it through the shoot, apparently: "The pineapple I started eating during carving, the cauliflower was cooked afterwards, but others were sacrificed." You can see more of Zaciu's photography on

his Flickr site

.

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