California and Arizona are producing more than 90% of US lettuce. If you live anywhere east of these two states, your leafy greens have traveled a long way to get there. How is this done? The short answer is cooperation and the right technology: Equilibrium Modified Atmosphere Packaging, or EMAP.
Equilibrium modified atmosphere packaging is technology that slows respiration and extends the shelf life of fresh produce. Unlike most food products, fresh fruits and vegetables continue to “breathe” or respire after they have been harvested. Through this process, produce consumes oxygen, creating carbon dioxide and water vapor in the process.
According to David Bell, president of Witt Gas Controls, the primary purpose of EMAP is to keep packaged products fresh for as long as possible without harming product quality, including taste, texture and appearance. Witt Gas Controls manufactures equipment for gas mixing and analysis and leak detection.
As explained on produceprocessing.net, EMAP works best when the right packaging material is used and properly sealed to prevent leaks. Permeability and breathability are important qualities in packaging, especially for leafy greens.
Photo source: Dreamstime.com