We knew microplastics were infiltrating the human food chain through their presence in the oceans, where fish ingest them and we eventually ingest the fish. Now it turns out microplastics are invading our fruits and vegetables as well. Present in air, soil and water, the minute plastic particles can penetrate the roots of trees and plants and travel into the parts we eat.
A recent Fast Company article explains two recent studies, one by researchers in Italy and one by researchers in China and the Netherlands. The research in Italy found microplastics in samples scientists took from apples, pears, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and lettuce, with carrots having the most contamination among the vegetables and apples having more contamination than pears.
The study by researchers in China and the Netherlands found that microplastics entered through cracks in the roots of lettuce and wheat and traveled up to edible parts of those crops. “Peijnenburg’s study was done in a lab and looked at two different ways of growing plants: hydroponically in wastewater, and in sandy soil to which wastewater was added,” Fast Company explained. This is especially relevant given that growers in many countries use waster water to irrigate crops.
Research evaluating the human health effects of ingesting plastics is relatively new. The Plastic Soup Foundation’s “Plastic Health Summit” scheduled for April 2021 in Amsterdam, will bring together experts in this field reporting on recent findings.
Meanwhile, as we work to keep plastics out of our environment and our food, a new edible spoon can help by replacing plastic cutlery. According to an estimate in Forbes, more than 40 billion plastic utensils are thrown out in the U.S. alone each year. Created by Vegan brand IncrEdible, the new spoons will soon be available to consumers around the globe. Designed to remain firm in hot foods for up to 20 minutes and in cold foods for nearly an hour, the spoons come in sweet flavors, like chocolate, and savory, like black pepper. Plant Based News interviews IncrEdible co-founder Dinesh Tadepalli about the spoons and more
Now if we can just stop the plastics from getting into our food in the first place!