The process of spoiling is a natural part of the life cycle of all foods, and it’s easy to detect by smell, taste, feel, or sight.

Although rotting is a natural process that all foods eventually go through if left exposed to the elements, you definitely don’t want to eat food that you suspect is spoiled. To the contrary, you should dispose of any food you believe may be rotten, so that you avoid the possibility of food-borne illnesses.

When food is harvested, either in the form of vegetables, fruits, or meats from animals, it becomes detached from the sources that gave it life. In other words, once you pick an apple, it begins to die immediately. Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, have thick cell walls that keep the food in an edible state for several days or even weeks. Over time, though, those cell walls begin to break down. When this happens, you can feel these fruits and vegetables become less solid. Their appearance may also begin to change colors, smell bad, and taste even worse.

What causes these changes within foods? Some of the primary culprits are air, oxygen, moisture, light, temperature, and microbial growth. When two or more of these culprits get together, they can accelerate the spoiling process even further.

When food is exposed to air, microorganisms can land on the food and begin their work of breaking down the food for their own uses. The presence of oxygen enhances the growth of microorganisms, such as molds and yeasts, and contributes directly to deterioration of fats, vitamins, flavors, and colors within foods through the work of enzymes.

All food is made up of a certain percentage of water. Over time, microorganisms use the water within food to fuel the chemical reactions they need to dissolve the food for energy and growth. Moisture on the outside of food also allows molds and other microorganisms to grow on the outside of food, as well as within any cracks or holes in the surface of the food, further contributing to increased decay.

When food is exposed to light, its outer layers can begin to spoil in a process known as photodegradation. Photodegradation can result in discoloration, as well as loss of flavor, vitamins, and proteins.

Temperature also plays a role in food spoilage. As temperature increases, the chemical reactions that drive the spoiling process accelerate. That’s why putting foods in the refrigerator or freezer helps to slow down the rotting process.

The process of food spoilage isn’t all bad, though. It’s a natural process that allows nutrients from the foods, as well as seeds, to be released and used again by the environment.

Since most of us do not grow our own food today, we must take steps to prevent food spoilage, so that food will last long enough for it to be transported to a store where we can buy it and bring it home to cook and eat. Scientists and researchers have helped develop many tactics over the years to fight against the main causes of spoilage, such as air, chemical reactions, and microorganisms.

If you’ve been to a grocery store recently, you know that food comes in a wide variety of packaging. That’s not all just for show. Food packaging helps to protect it from the air and light. Controlling temperature by refrigerating and freezing foods also helps to slow down chemical reactions. Finally, the battle against microorganisms is often fought by adding chemicals known as preservatives to food. These chemicals help to inhibit the chemical reactions that allow microorganisms to break down food for energy. And this is the very problem we now are faced to content with. Many of these preservatives contribute to health issues.

Natural Methods to Delay Foods from Rotting

Hydroxyls are a natural oxidant that breaks down chemical compounds and provides a balance of microorganism populations. Aside from clean air, a hydroxyl generator can be used to reduce or eliminate moulds and bacteria that will result in an increase in odours. Hydroxyls are healthy and essential to life but usually not present indoors. By increasing the concentration of hydroxyls to approximately 2.6 million per cubic centimeter, the ethylene off-gassing from produce is significantly reduced thus naturally extending its shelf life. A closed artificial environments can be transformed into healthy and fresh one. Odours oxidize more rapidly, bacteria and moulds have a difficult time culturing and replicating. Organic food distributors have begun to adopt the use of hydroxyls in their warehouse and storage facilities to natural prolong the shelf life of their produce rather than using chemical preservatives.