From Batteries To Plastic Wrap: 5 Ways Science Is Making Our Garbage Edible

by Lydia Bugg

Science is a rogue’s best friend. Every time the field advances, it gives us another tool that can be used to improve our hustle ... or on the most basic level, it can save our butts in a “just need to survive the night” situation.

For instance, let’s say that, for some rogue-related reasons, you were suddenly dropped, penniless, into the mean streets of Des Moines, Iowa. Like maybe you had to bug out because you did it like this. And you also did it like that. Maybe you did it with a wiffle ball bat. Your primary goals at this point are 1) shelter and 2) food. Giving your panic button the finger, you calmly scan the alleyways until your eyes lock onto a dumpster. “Bingo.”

You sigh in relief, knowing that at least your stomach will be taken care of, because a whole lot of that “garbage” could very well be edible. And we’re not talking about the obvious stuff like a half-eaten pizza. Thanks to science, you’ll soon be able to eat stuff like ...

Plastic Wrap

Three separate countries are currently working on different kinds of edible plastic wrap. Apparently, scientists really want us to be able to eat plastic, which makes sense, because it would drastically reduce landfill waste ... and also deckchairs look delicious.

 Pixabay

Pixabay

Mmmm, tastes like chi- Actually, we’ll get to that in a few.

In 2012, a research university in Buenos Aires experimented with using starch extracts from corn and cassava, with the key ingredient coming from the deliciously named “waxy corn.” MMMMM waxy. Taste obviously isn’t the key factor in this edible invention. The plastic wrap can easily be discarded if the consumer doesn’t want to eat it, and it will degrade over time just like your self esteem after a long weekend with your parents.

The U.S. version of eating plastic involves casein, a group of milk proteins. Casein could come in sheets or be sprayed onto food as a coating. Co-creator Peggy Tomasula says, “It’s actually been found to be more effective at blocking oxygen than ordinary plastic wrap, so it can protect food from spoiling for a much longer period of time.” Then traditional plastic wrap accused her of trash talking and body slammed her.

Indonesia recently got in on the game with a seaweed version of edible plastic wrap. Not only is it edible and biodegradable, but it’s also made to dissolve in hot water. This could be the best application of edible plastic wrap, because of course one of the big problems with it is you don’t want a bunch of people touching something you’re going to eat with the same thing they pick their nose with.

 Pixabay

Pixabay

Get your filthy paws off of my dessert!

Plastic wrap is often used for hygienic purposes, so making it edible is kind of a tough sell. Evoware sees it being used for coffee, sugar, and seasoning packets. Things that generally come individually wrapped inside larger packages. This could lead to the serious scientific advancement of eating an entire pack of Starburst in one bite, without even opening it.

Nail Polish

Kid Licks is a horribly named company that manufactures edible nail polish for children; the idea being that their little mush brains are going to make them eat it anyway, so we might as well make sure that painting our babies doesn’t kill them. It comes in flavors kids love like sour carrot, and beat.

As gross as that sounds, KFC took that already strange concept and made it even more disturbing, in the way only the inventor of the double down dog could. In 2016 they released their Finger Lickin’ Good nail polish, available only in China.

 NYTimes

NYTimes

No.

The polish came in two flavors: hot-and-spicy, and original recipe. They were made of KFC spice blends and starch with added vegetable gum to make it stick to fingernails. If this sounds a little impractical to you, let me just say you’re wrong ... it’s actually extremely impractical. The entire bottle of polish was labeled as good for only one use, so if you wanted to use the entire bottle you would have to invite roughly two hundred friends over to lick their fingers at your house.

The bottle also had to be refrigerated and was perishable after only five days. I know what you’re thinking: Where can I, a clinically insane person, buy some? Unfortunately it was only available to members of the media in Hong Kong, who burned it in purifying flames so that it couldn’t infect the rest of the world.

Coffee Cups

It seems like KFC’s marketing strategy is just to get people to say “KFC” as much as possible. Is KFC secretly Voldemort? If you say “KFC” three times in a row, does it summon Colonel Sanders and his army of celebrity clones? My God, don’t read this article out loud!

 WWE / KFC

WWE / KFC

Pictured: America.

Whatever the reason, their marketing strategy seems to be: make weird, poorly thought out products, send pictures of them to the media so they will get endlessly mocked, and then never speak of them again.

Instead of just confining their spectacular failure at making edible garbage to the world of nail polish, they decided to expand into making terrible edible coffee cups as well. Again, this was meant to be a limited release item, available only in one country ... this time, the UK.

The cup was made of a thick cookie shell, lined with white chocolate and wrapped in delicious sounding sugar paper. Much like its spiritual inbred cousin, it seems to have never actually gotten into the consumer market, and there’s a good reason for that: It couldn’t actually hold hot coffee because, DUH.

According to that article, “The hotter the coffee, the faster the cup will degrade.” Even to our inexpert ears, that sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. A cup of coffee that could dissolve in a person’s hand, but only if the coffee is hot enough to burn them? They might as well be making edible napalm.

 Pixabay

Pixabay

“Chad, can you grab the mop, please?”

You also have to consider that most people like to sip coffee. This delicious cup would necessitate shooting your morning Joe like a Jägerbomb before it scolds your hands. Of course, there’s also the added downside of the calorie content. You’re adding a gigantic white chocolate covered cookie to your morning coffee. Though, to be honest, if you’re having your breakfast at KFC, you probably aren’t too worried about your health.

Banana Peels

Scientist in Japan have created an edible banana peel for … reasons? Japan loves expensive, modified fruits, like square watermelons. They even have luxury fruit markets that sell some fruits for tens of thousands of dollars. This is because in Japan, really pretty fruit is often used a gift. We at The Modern Rogue generally prefer to give flame throwers as gifts, but to each their own.

There’s really no practical application for the edible banana peel, outside of preventing deadly pratfalls. Banana peels aren’t bad for the environment, and you technically can already eat them ... they just taste terrible. Which seems to be true for the edible banana peel as well. People are calling it “fairly easy to eat” with “no strange texture.” Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but hey, they’re called edible banana peels, not tasty banana peels.

 Pixabay

Pixabay

“You. Wasteful. Piece. Of ...”

The bananas are made with a freezing and thawing method that slows down the plant’s metabolism and then uses a burst of heat to spur sudden growth. This results in a soft and thin skin that hasn’t fully developed, while the inside of the banana is fully mature and ready to eat.

The complex growing method means that only ten are harvested for sale each week. They are sold at a single market in Okayama for around six bucks each. The thinner peel also make it much more difficult to ship the banana without bruising them, so don’t expect to see these in American grocery stores anytime soon. Which is a bummer, because sometimes eating gross food is fun, like the time Brian and Jason tried taste tripping.

Batteries

Not all-edible garbage is just for (gross) fun. The phrase “edible battery” doesn’t exactly bring to mind culinary delight, but they could have a serious impact on humanity, specifically in the medical field. Carnegie Mellon University’s Bettinger Group has been working since 2013 to create a battery that uses melanin, a naturally occurring pigment already found in our hair, skin, eyes and brain, as an electrical conductor for edible batteries.

They hope that their edible battery could someday be powerful enough to run devices that deliver drugs at a specific time, glucose monitors, ingestible cameras and other consumable diagnostic devices that don’t even exist yet. Or to take over the earth and force humanity to bow to our electronic gods, whichever comes first.

 Pixabay

Pixabay

“Join us. Join us. Joooiiinnnn uuuuuusssss ...”

The original battery prototype lasted only five hours, but after three years of research, they’ve extended the battery life to around sixteen hours. Once the battery is used, it will eventually degrade into “benign components” inside what scientists refer to as the “human poop system.”

It’s unclear if this research will ever lead to a mass-produced edible battery because there’s still the question about safety. There’s a lot about melanin we don’t know. In fact we don’t technically know what melanin is. We just know it exists.

In other words, don’t go out and order a plateful of melanin. Or batteries. At least not yet. Be patient; science is working on it.

Like this article? Check out “The Weirdest Products Scammers Have Counterfeited” and “5 Ways Your Brain Is Hard-Wired To Scare The Crap Out Of You”. 

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