strawberries

By manipulating light, carbon-dioxide, and nutrients cutting edge food scientists are hacking into fruits and vegetables in search of new ways to control how they grow.  This isn’t some funky fertilizer research either.  Recent discoveries about light, for example, have produced some bountiful results.

At the Wageningen greenhouses (Wageningen University and Research Center, Netherlands), researchers can grow as many as 150 pounds of tomatoes in a square yard of space. And by using specially calibrated LED lights, they have managed to produce exotic new tomatoes with a whopping 50 percent more vitamin C than ordinary ones.

By manipulating wavelengths of light and using LED’s that emit these wavelengths, used together or at different times during the day or night, even directed directly at developing fruit, the growers have been able to achieve these amazing results.

We’ve seen in the last year that we can increase the amount of vitamin C in the tomato fruit by concentrating the amount of red light the fruit itself receives. Not the whole plant, but just the fruit. And so if we can do that effectively, then we’ll be able to have a better quality fruit.

And it’s not just the Netherlands.  The US Food and Drug Administration recently reported that using certain types of UV-LED’s can extend the life of Strawberries by reducing how fast they rot, and slowing the spread of any areas already showing any evidence of damage.

This is technology that is soon to be incorporated into your refrigerator, where low power use UV-LED’s optimized to the storage compartments of your appliance will reduce waste by improving the life of fruits and vegetables stored there.  We should also expect to see it in large scale applications for growers, distributors, wholesalers, and haulers of fruits and vegetables that are being hacked with specialized LED light to protect them from damage and extend their shelf life.