VeggiDome: The Inventor’s Story

As a father, I’m interested in ways to help my two children stay healthy.  One day, 11 years ago, I was getting lunch ready in the kitchen and I thought I’d wash a whole bunch of fresh vegetables at once, to see how many and which one would get eaten. “What the heck”, I boldly piled a large assortment of carrots, celery sticks, green beans, radishes, etc. onto a large plate. The kids smiled at this sight, and over the course of the meal ate one or two pieces and scattered off.

Then I did something that changed the entire kitchen for years. Instead of scooping the fresh vegetables into a plastic bag and tossing them into the fridge, I covered the pile with a clear glass-mixing bowl. A couple hours later, I lifted the bowl off again for dinner. I was amazed how well this simple idea had worked. My family kept it on the table throughout the week, adding a variety of vegetables.  Seeing that they were fresh, the kids kept eating them up!

The glass device stayed on the table for years, as I experimented with it and tried to solve some of the problems, like vegetables sticking out the bottom, kids not replacing the cover, etc. The idea was working pretty well, but it wasn't until recently that I cut a hole in the top glass and I put a special lid on it, like a cookie jar top. This was a great improvement! Not only could the children serve themselves more easily, but I found that I was able to drop new vegetables in without veggies spilling out of the bottom and I could put in more food because I could fill it up to the top.  But the real surprise came when I brought the new design to U.C.L.A. to have it looked at.

I was able to show the VeggiDome to Ann Hirsch, Ph.D., May Wang Ph.D. and William McCarthy, Ph.D., all who gave me positive remarks and were happy to see a device that could display vegetables on the table, helping people eat more healthy food. I agreed to try for a series of tests, when I could get enough units to them. Dr. McCarthy emailed me: “I continue to recognize the value that the dish set would have …in households with young children.” The remarkable part was when Dr. McCarthy began speaking of Ethylene gas (which I’d never heard of!) coming off of the cut produce.  It seems that some fresh veggies emit this hormone as a gas that triggers the cells to “ripen” faster, maybe for survival, as buds open, seeds sprout, and leaves age and droop.  Well, the professor said that (compared to the tight confines of a plastic bag with twister in your fridge,) my VeggiDome bowl not only allows a mixture air that dilutes the gas effect, but my new lid let the gas escape, including through normal use when the children grabbed a snack!

My understanding of vegetables has changed.  

When I walk through my kitchen I see plants that are “drinking” moisture from air, 

in a glass dome,

thriving.

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