Experiment on Organic and Inorganic Food Decomposition



Decomposition is a phase of change for a material which gives many valuable by-products like fuel, diamonds, and fertilizer. Due to that, it has been a center of focus for many experiments of intermediate as well as novice level researchers. When it comes to the decomposition of food items, the decomposition of organic foods is a natural process which can be observed easily among nature. (Spengler, 2014) But when it comes to decomposition of inorganic food items, it cannot be considered as a fairly observed area. While the organic food items are freshly available fruits and vegetables, the inorganic food items include nuts, frozen food (which has been stored for a long period of time i.e. frozen peas, corn), potato wafers and food items from fast food chains (as they prepare food from frozen items). (Hebrank, 2013)As the decomposition rate of organic food if of a natural rate, it is deemed to be healthy. On the contrary, inorganic food items take longer to decompose indicating the use of chemicals deeming inorganic food unhealthy. (Lutz, 2013) This experiment will shed light to the situation determining if the assumption is true.
Relevant Ideas

This experiment can also include a wider variety of organic and inorganic foods in order to categorically record the decomposition process.
The experiment can be extended by recording the decomposition under the influence of materials other than water and whether they accelerate or decelerate the process.
The experiment can also be performed under controlled environment in different soil types to optimize the decomposition process in order to extract by products.

If I measure the difference between the times taken for food items to decompose than I will find that organic food decomposes faster than inorganic food
Peer Review

The friends and classmates whom I shared the idea of the experiment with agreed upon the usefulness and need for the experiment and extended support for its completion. My parents were also supportive for my efforts on this experiment.

Experimental Methodology


Initially, the chosen organic and inorganic materials and put them into the plastic cups and label them with markers. 4 cups will have organic materials and 4 of them will have different inorganic materials inside them. Out of that, two of each will have the same materials. Out of the cups which have the same contents, one will be filled with water so that findings can be generated regarding the experiment under the influence of water. Every cup will be covered by another empty cup which will serve as a lid. The cups will be put inside ½ foot of ground and the contents will be examined every week and the experiment will continue for six weeks.
Independent Variables

• Organic food items
• Inorganic food items
• Amount of water used
• Nature of the food items (organic or inorganic)

Dependent Variables

Time taken for decomposition
Control Group

The control group contains two of my classmates which can analyze the findings of the experiment in case I cannot be present to analyze them myself.
Fixed Variables

Air entering the decomposition mixture
Microbes in the soil
Data Collection

Microsoft Excel will be used to fill the data in a spreadsheet data will be projected in the charts describing the contents of the mixtures stage by stage.
Possible Outcomes

1) The materials will decompose in different speeds and the ones which contain water will decompose faster.
2) The materials will decompose at the same rate regardless of the nature of materials or the presence of water.
3) The organic materials will decompose and the inorganic materials will not show any sign of decomposition.

Data Representation
Organic Food

After 1 week After 2 weeks After 3 weeks
Apples Change in color, no changes in weight Changes in color, minimal weight change Weight reduced to half and the apple has rotted
Apples(with water) Water has been absorbed. Mass unchanged.
Color unchanged. Water absorbed again and the mass has decreased minimally and the color has turned dark. Water absorbed and the mass has still remained minimal. Color is very dark.
Apple has rotted.
Carrots No change in color. No changes in weight Changes in color. Minimal change in weight Color is dark and weight has highly reduced. Carrot has broken into pieces. Decomposition successful.
Carrots(with water) Water absorbed. Mass increased. Color unchanged. Water absorbed. Color starting to change. Mass back to normal. Water absorbed. Color very dark. Mass decreased minimally. Carrot hasn’t rotted.

Inorganic Food

After 1 week After 2 weeks After 3 weeks
McDonalds Burger Color Unchanged. Mass Unchanged. Color unchanged. Mass Unchanged Color Unchanged. Mass has increased minimally. No Decomposition.
McDonalds Burger(with water) Water partially absorbed. Weight increased. No change in color. Water absorbed. Color changed. Weight decreased. Water absorbed. Color darkened. Weight decreased. Partial Decomposition
Potato wafers Color Unchanged Mass Unchanged Color Unchanged.
Mass Unchanged Color unchanged.
Wafers have become soft. Mass decreased minimally. Low level of decomposition.
Potato Wafers (with water) Water Absorbed. Wafers have become soft. Color darker. Mass increased. Water absorbed. Mass has decreased from normal level. Color darker. Very dark color. Mass critically decreased. Successful decomposition.

Data Analysis

Decomposition is successful in organic food materials and unsuccessful in inorganic food materials. With the subject treated with water, both kind of foods decomposed due to moisture and humidity. The inorganic food without water did not decompose but just dried out. That was concluded because of their creation aimed as sustainability of food.

The Hypothesis was fully supported but with minor differences which do not require changes to be made in the initial hypothesis.

The strength of this experiment was that it required very accessible materials which were easy to assemble and obtain. This experiment did not require an advanced level of understanding the findings were interesting and informative.
The weakness can be considered that it took 3 weeks to complete and digging up the cups every time was a tedious process. The experiment could have been conducted with soil samples in a lab and it might have given the same result.

Hebrank, M. R. (2013). Hands-on Activity: How Fast Can a Carrot Rot? Retrieved from www.teachengineering.org: https://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/duk_/activities/duk_decomposers_mary_act/duk_decomposers_mary_act.xml
Lutz, A. (2013, 4 24). The Real Reason Why McDonald’s Burgers Don’t Rot. Retrieved from www.businessinsider.in: http://www.businessinsider.in/The-Real-Reason-Why-McDonalds-Burgers-Dont-Rot/articleshow/21155832.cms
Spengler, T. (2014). Which Fruit Decomposes Faster, an Apple or a Strawberry? Retrieved from homeguides.sfgate.com: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/fruit-decomposes-faster-apple-strawberry-100802.html


Posted on

March 7, 2018

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