This device actively targets the exact bacteria and fungi that cause spoilage in precise fruits and vegetables. This device actively targets the exact bacteria and fungi that cause spoilage in precise fruits and vegetables. This device actively targets the exact bacteria and fungi that cause spoilage in precise fruits and vegetables. (Photo: Amit Gal-Or)

Want fruits and vegetables to last longer? This 20-year-old student just invented a way

New device can extend their shelf life three times longer than normal.

Those tomatoes on your counter aren't getting any younger. It's the classic kitchen conundrum. You go to the grocery store, perhaps overstock on fruits and vegetables, only to see the eggplant and lettuce start to go bad before you've had a chance to use them.

Now a 20-year-old Israeli student has a solution. With the help of food scientists at the University of Florida in the U.S. and Ben-Gurion University in Israel, Amit Gal-Or has created a system that extends the shelf life of fruits like apples and vegetables like cucumbers three times longer than without the device.

He launched a Kickstarter campaign last month for a product called Food Protectors, and has already exceeded his goal. So how does it work? We'll let Gal-Or explain in the video below:

For years, specific powders have been used to tackle fungi and bacteria in fruits and vegetables. For example, there's a special powder for grapes, a special powder for strawberries, and so forth. Up until now, this technology has only been used by the industrial sector for storage and shipment purposes. What Gal-Or did was twofold: One, he created a multi-use powder that worked for a litany of fruits and vegetables. Two, he created easy-to-use containers that people could have in their own kitchen.

The powder is fully organic, completely safe (Gal-Or eats a little in the Kickstarter video), and doesn't need any physical application like most agricultural chemicals – it just needs to be in the vicinity of the fruit. "It was obvious that this had high potential for uses at home," Gal-Or told From The Grapevine. "The larger vision is to reduce food waste and do it in an organic way. Twenty-five percent of food waste actually occurs at homes. I believe that if the individuals are able to become aware of the situation and actually lead a life that is sustainable, that they can influence the larger institutions."

Gal-Or, who is currently majoring in economics at New York University's Shanghai campus, is working with Chinese manufacturing facilities on mass-producing the product. He's now running the company's day-to-day operations in addition to his schoolwork. "I've been groomed to do it," he explained, noting that both his dad and brother are also entrepreneurs.

The device will cost around $25 and comes with enough packets to last a year, at which point customers can order refills. Gal-Or says the product should be available for purchase online this summer.

Amit Gal-Or is a student at New York University's Shanghai campus.Amit Gal-Or is a student at New York University's Shanghai campus. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

"I really care about issues of sustainability," he said. "It's something I really, really care about. But I'm also a technological guy, so what I hope is to continue to combine these two sectors." To that end, he told us that he's now in the early stages of making a powder that will help flowers last longer before wilting.

Gal-Or will stay in China for awhile to ensure quality production, but will be heading back to Israel in the fall where he will attend Tel Aviv University for a semester. While there, in addition to visiting family and friends, he'll also be spending as much time as possible in the lab at Ben-Gurion University to further work on the R&D for the Food Protector powder.

Israel, which was at the forefront of developing both the cherry tomato and agricultural drip irrigation, has a burgeoning food-tech sector. Recent inventions coming out of the country include a device that can tell when an avocado is ripe and grain cocoons that are taking a bite out of world hunger issues.

Before we end our interview, we asked the wunderkind one final question. "My favorite fruit?" he pondered for a moment before responding: "It really depends on the day."


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Environment, Healthy eating