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It's sunscreen for produce

Fruits and vegetables get stressed by too much sun, too--but spraying a calcium carbonate powder on them can help.

Purfresh, which used to go by the name Novazone, has tested and now will more actively market a sunscreen for things that come out of the ground.

Called Eclipse, it's a powder made from multicrystalline calcium carbonate. You spray it on onions and other crops to reduce solar stress. Farmers can lose 30 percent or more of their crops to overexposure to the sun, said Purfresh CEO David Cope. The remaining, salable crops can also get damaged and lose some of their value through overexposure. Spray on the powder--which is rated SPF 42--and you can eliminate losses due to in-field sunburn.

The product has mostly been tested in Chile, but the company will try to market it in a variety of regions. It's safe for humans, too.

"It's the same white power you see in chewing gum wrappers," said Cope.

Eclipse is part of the company's plans to become a full-service house for food and water technology. Currently, it mostly earns revenue through its systems that purify bottled water or produce with ozone. The company has 300 customers in 22 countries. While most of the customers are growers, the company is expanding sales to transportation outfits and retailers.

And speaking of ozone, the company has also released a software product, called Intellipure, that monitors food and drinks as they move from harvesting or production to the shelf. This way, if you get poisoned, it's easier to find out where the problem occurred.

Food and water purification is getting to be a big business. Remember all those stories about e coli and spinach? It was the result of improper purification. Australia's Ioteq is coming to this country with a system that purifies harvested produce with iodine. Meanwhile, TyraTech is developing a cheese that kills tapeworms.