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     Volume 4 Issue 58 | August 12 , 2005 |

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Edible Films and People Pods

Imran H. Khan

Talk about getting two birds with the same stone. If you're one of those health freaks who gets nervous when your food is not covered or a nature lover who is opposed to synthetic packing, there is hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven news for you. The researchers at University of Illinois have developed an edible film made of soy protein and oregano (yummy!) that might be used for casing sausage and other such edibles. The film might be used to coat French fries before frying or replace the foil safety packaging layers covering the tops of yogurt containers, said Soo-Yeun Lee, a professor at the University of Illinois. There is no need for picking or peeling. No more eating bits and pieces of the coverings. The solutions is simple. What you see is what you eat! Graduate student Edel Pruneda-Olguin developed the edible film with Lee, under an exchange programme with Mexico to do research at the university. Any type of proteins can pretty much make films, Lee said. The research could lead to replacing synthetic packing materials with materials that tend to be more environmentally friendly because they're either biodegradable or edible. Talk about a tasty solution.

As I see it, two of man's greatest problems of today are what to eat (next) and how to get to places where you can eat. Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor has apparently solved my latter problem. Welcome to the world of the 'i-unit', a single seat electric vehicle that changes form in upright position in a low-speed mode and a reclined position in high-speed mode. This gadget, more than a vehicle, is also called a people-pod. The prototype unveiling took place last year but the actual automobile was launched at a Tokyo showroom this August. Toyota says the 'i-unit', inspired by the form of a leaf, seeks to express the power of the unknown, the logic of living things and the simple beauty of waste-free functionality. The unit is a form of personal mobility that seeks to attain a greater balance of meeting individuals' wishes to enjoy freedom of movement, harmony with society, and harmony with the Earth's natural environment. I would like to say that I'm old fashioned. I simply want to get to Café Zam Zam without having to change my Rickshaw twice. All this high-tech research and development is draining a lot of dough from Toyota as it announced that its net profit in the June quarter fell 6.9 percent. Nonetheless, their sales are at an all time high and that's good news for all of us who cannot wait to see that they'll come up with next. One advice though. Make sure that you're not in your shorts while driving one of these because it will surely turn some eyes.

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