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Walking On Sunshine, Driving on... Tomatoes?

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On: Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 4:43PM | By: Karen Cook

Walking On Sunshine, Driving on... Tomatoes?

I spent two years in a small town in Germany in the mid-80s and I learned a few things. For example, when you order French fries they come with mayonnaise, not ketchup. Eventually I found out that German cooks are offended if you ask for ketchup for anything. They believe this condiment covers up rather than enhancing the flavor of food, and a diner who asks for it is telling the host that their food tastes bad.

Ford may have an idea to give Germans a better attitude toward ketchup. Partnering with Heinz, the auto manufacturer is trying to figure out if it would be possible to use tomato fibers for various components in their vehicles.

According to Ford, “Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.” This material would be used for parts such as wiring brackets and coin holders which are usually made from petroleum-based plastics.

Heinz happens to have quite a bit of “tomato fibers” it wants to be rid of. The ketchup maker would be thrilled if its discarded peels, stems, and seeds from the two million tons of tomatoes it processes each year could be used by the car company. “Although we are in the very early stages of research and many questions remain, we are excited about the possibilities this could produce for both Heinz and Ford.”

This isn’t Ford’s first foray into the unconventional. They have been looking into alternative sustainable products for a while now. They have so far produced cellulose fiber-reinforced console components, rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets, coconut-based composite parts, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, and soy-foam seat cushions and head rests.

I can’t help but wonder how these cars will smell when baking in the Florida sun. I get hungry just thinking about it.


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