Monday, June 10, 2013

One Small Step for Space-Food: Flour with the Nutrition of Fresh Fruit


Like so many new technologies, the idea is, currently, “for the Army.” But we know well enough that most things developed for the military make their way into civilian, everyday life soon enough. So, get your bowls ready for fresh fruit-bread, fruit-pasta, fruit-emergency rations, or pretty much any other wheat product sporting the nutritional value of a bunch of blueberries or, presumably, most any other health fruit or vegetable, thanks to research done by North Carolina State University and the United States’ Army. Tomorrow’s MREs are the day after’s grocery store stock.

The idea is a bit like V-8, but instead of juicing, the nutrient-chemicals (nutrients are chemicals, of course) themselves are extracted and combined with flours or protein powders. Specifically, researchers at NC State’s Plants for Human Health Institute extracted from muscadine grapes (anthocyanins, which fight chronic diseases and cancer) and kale greens (glucosinolates, which fight cancer), through a process that stripped away sugars, water, and fats, leaving the desired nutrients in concentrated form.

Those nutrients are then mixed with soy-based flour for the grapes, and hemp-based flour for the kale. The results are shelf-stable ingredients that can be used in all kinds of things with the ability to survive extreme conditions for long periods of time, while still providing the nutrition of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is good news for GIs, mountain climbers, people in space, and, again, probably one day you and I. Also: people that hate fruits and vegetables. They existthough I’m not sure that’s a philosophy worthy of being be catered to.

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