Data from: Food spoilage, storage, and transport: implications for a sustainable future

  • Joseph R. Burger (Contributor)
  • Tatiana Flanagan (Contributor)
  • Jordan Okie (Contributor)
  • Trevor S. Fristoe (Contributor)
  • Sean T. Hammond (Contributor)
  • James H. Brown (Contributor)
  • Jeffrey C. Nekola (Contributor)
  • Norman Mercado-Silva (Contributor)



Human societies have always faced temporal and spatial fluctuations in food availability. The length of time that food remains edible and nutritious depends on temperature, moisture, and other factors that affect the growth rates of organisms that cause spoilage. Some storage techniques, such as drying, salting, and smoking, date back to ancient hunter–gatherer and early agricultural societies and use relatively low energy inputs. Newer technologies developed since the industrial revolution, such as canning and compressed-gas refrigeration, require much greater energy inputs. Coincident with the development of storage technologies, the transportation of food helped to overcome spatial and temporal fluctuations in productivity, culminating in today's global transport system, which delivers fresh and preserved foods worldwide. Because most contemporary humans rely on energy-intensive technologies for storing and transporting food, there are formidable challenges for feeding a growing and increasingly urbanized global population as finite supplies of fossil fuels rapidly deplete.,Transportation technologies over human historyDate of first appearance, average speed, capacity, and energy source for various air, land, and water transport vessels used for food and other transportation over human historySupplemental_3.docxFood storage technologiesFood storage technologies with historical dates of appearance, energy requirements, and shelf life of various food items with and without storage technologySupplemental2_revised.docxGrowth rates of food spoiling microbesThe temperature-dependent growth rates of various microbes causing food spoilageSupplemental_1.xlsx,
Date made availableJul 29 2015

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