Go Summarize

a16z Podcast | Produce or Perish! (What We Eat)

50 views|5 years ago
💫 Short Summary

The video explores a company using nanoscale material science to enhance fruits and vegetables, extending their shelf life while maintaining taste. It discusses the challenges in the food supply chain, the economic impact of perishability on farmers, and the potential benefits of technology in developing countries. The importance of utilizing natural technology and material science for innovation is emphasized, along with the role of interdisciplinary collaboration. The future of manufacturing, including 3D printing and additive manufacturing, is also discussed in the context of improving food production and distribution globally.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Appeal company utilizes nanoscale material science to enhance fruits and vegetables.
Molecules are extracted from plant materials to create powders for preserving fresh produce.
Powders are reconstituted in liquid form and applied to maintain freshness without altering taste.
The applied materials are imperceptible and enhance the produce's natural flavors.
This innovative process retains the original taste of the fruit when picked, extending the shelf life of fresh produce.
Commercial agriculture prioritizes containment of variables over natural systems diversity, leading to heavy pesticide use for produce like strawberries.
Soil treatment methods like methyl bromide compromise natural defenses, allowing pests and pathogens to infiltrate.
This approach creates a cycle of solving one problem while creating others, highlighting the trade-off for fresh, high-quality produce.
The use of familiar building blocks in synthetic materials for food preservation raises questions about the overall benefits and impact on ecosystems.
The speaker contrasts this high-class problem with countries lacking fruit variety, prompting reflection on the true value of food preservation practices.
Impact of Perishability on Economic Returns.
Perishability affects farmers' economic returns by limiting market access and profitability.
Transportation costs and logistics are crucial in getting perishable goods to market.
Air freighting avocados to China can be more expensive than the product itself.
Understanding seasonal availability and shelf life of commodities is essential in determining where produce is available and at what cost throughout the year.
Extending the shelf life of produce benefits growers and customers by increasing availability and opening up new export markets.
Smaller farmers often face challenges due to the short shelf life of produce being used by traders to negotiate lower prices.
By extending shelf life, farmers can earn significantly more per product.
Small holders capture increased economic value with longer shelf life.
The farming and food production ecosystem involves small farms, middlemen, and large operations, all contributing to the overall supply chain.
Challenges in the food supply chain.
Spoilage rates and food waste are major issues in the food supply chain.
Significant resources are wasted in food production, leading to environmental impact.
Refrigeration technology has helped reduce produce wastage.
Implementing cold chains in developing countries is challenging due to lack of infrastructure and resources.
Using technology to compensate for lack of traditional infrastructure in developing countries.
Leapfrogging existing systems to go mobile-first with examples like ziplines and drones delivering medical supplies.
Opportunity for new systems that bypass traditional infrastructure, leading to innovative solutions and competitive advantages.
Importance of doubling the shelf life of produce to improve transportation efficiency.
Impact of introducing new technologies in different regions.
Challenges and Opportunities in Technology Delivery
Traditional agriculture technologies contrast with newer, natural methods, showcasing nature's efficiency.
Human interference can disrupt valuable natural mechanisms evolved over time, affecting life forms.
New chemistry or molecules may interfere with critical, successful processes that have existed for millennia.
Nature's diverse toolkit of molecules is compared to building with Legos for material scientists.
A multidisciplinary team of over 50 scientists, including PhDs in chemistry and engineering, work together on isolating and combining these materials.
Expertise across different disciplines is required for extracting and purifying these materials.
The process showcases the complexity and collaboration needed for combinatorial innovation in material science.
The importance of leveraging nature's operating system in solving problems in analytical chemistry and material science.
Challenges of long iteration cycles in material science research, with significant time and effort required for experimentation and data collection.
Emphasis on developing new techniques and equipment to gain a deeper understanding of molecular structures and properties in biochemistry.
Utilizing enzymes in biochemistry as a way to mimic nature's solutions to problems in material science and analytical chemistry.
Innovative use of Raspberry Pis and Arduino units for system control and data measurement.
Benefits include scalability, rapid prototyping, and project scaling.
Comparison to past methods involving custom chips.
Utilization of 3D printing for time-lapse systems and monitoring fresh produce aging.
Significant developments and insights in company operations due to these technologies.
Importance of material science in tech innovation.
Material science bridges the gap between available materials and useful products.
The interdisciplinary nature of material science allows for new advancements with inconceivable fruits.
The potential for growth in material science is vast and opportunities for innovation are unfathomable.
Material science has historically driven human development, shaping society's progress based on available materials.
Challenges in bridging the gap between creating molecules and manufacturing at scale.
Government-led funding is crucial for material science research and training to address this gap.
Breakthrough in battery technology is seen as transformative for multiple industries.
Additive manufacturing is an exciting development with the potential to create structures using diverse inks based on material science knowledge.
The future of manufacturing and food production.
The merging of chemistry, mechanical engineering, robotics, and material science is driving advancements in technologies like 3D printing.
Efforts are being made to introduce 3D printing in space for constructing structures without conventional methods.
Personal 3D printers may enable the printing of high-tech products based on individual wealth levels.
Food production is evolving to extend the shelf life of crops, increasing diversity in grocery stores and benefiting small organic growers in the US and farmers in developing countries.
Innovations in transportation of exotic fruits have extended shelf life to 25 days, making commercial viability possible.
Growing fruits in optimal regions is emphasized to ensure best quality and yield.
Democratizing access to high-quality produce by growing fruits locally improves overall yields.
Transporting exotic fruits long distances is discouraged in favor of growing them closer to consumer markets.
Local environments benefit from growing better-suited fruit varieties.
Technology is dissolving borders and reshaping maps based on product shelf life and location.
Perishable goods can now be transported globally, making time less significant.
Technology is significantly impacting the organization and distribution of goods worldwide.