Still Tasty

Ever open the fridge, grab an item you’ve been thinking about eating all day, and then come to realize when you turn it over that it’s expiration date just passed. Thinking about rolling the dice? Still Tasty could take the chance out of your decision. The app (iPhone only, $1.99), which is an adaptation of the website stilltasty.com, can tell you the shelf-life of all the food in your kitchen. By setting an alert, the app can also alert you to when the chicken dish you made this past weekend needs to be tossed out.

Harvestmark

Launched in 2006, and with a current catalog of 2.5 billion products from 200 producers, the website Harvestmark also traces food back to the farm from whence it sprung. Its mobile phone app (iPhone and Android, free) ups the ante by allowing consumers to submit comments to the farmers who grew their food. The data is becoming more widely available to the Obama administration’s passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011 and is largely geared toward keeping shoppers informed about products that could be tied to outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella.

Seafood Watch

The venerable godfather of apps related to food conscientiousness, the Monterey Bay Aquarium launched Seafood Watch in 1999 to influence consumer habits in response to overfishing and other practices used in the seafood industry that could negatively impact marine ecosystems. Now in app form (iPhone and Android, free), it lets users know what fish they should be buying based on which particular fish available in their area is farmed sustainably.

Locavore

The Locavore app (iPhone and Android, free) tells you whether foods at your grocer or farmers market are in season. It does so with a geographic-based interface that lets you know that while you might want to steer clear of eggplant when shopping for your full-time home, you could definitely make a dish involving it next week when you’re on vacation in another state. The app also lets you know how much longer a particular fruit or vegetable will remain in season, when something’s about to be in season, and where near your place you could get it.

What's On My Food

Our conventional agricultural industry tells us that pesticides are required to keep bugs and weeds from our food, allowing growers to get crop yields that make money and consumers to buy food that looks how they want it to look. The Pesticide Action Network of North America is a fountain of information on what pesticides and their residues remain on our food when it gets to our tables. While buying organic is always an option for avoiding pesticide exposure, which can be particularly harmful to developing babies, it’s not always an option for everyone and for every item at a grocery store. The What’s on My Food? app (iPhone, free) allows its users to get more information on what they might be putting in their bodies.

Dirty Dozen

Similar to What’s on My Food?, the Dirty Dozen app (iPhone, free) aims to reduce consumer exposure to pesticides and their residues through the food supply. The app points out the 12 products on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, a new version of which was released in June, that calls out the produce items with the highest levels of pesticide-related chemicals on and in them. The EWG suggests buying organic versions of these 12 items. It’s not all bad news though, the app also supplies a Clean 15, which are items that are largely free of pesticides and can be bought risk-free even if they are grown conventionally.

GoodGuide

Developed by a Berkeley environmental labor policy professor, GoodGuide doesn’t just deal with food, but it can certainly help in making purchasing decisions about what you eat. The GoodGuide app (iPhone and Android, free) scores products on a scale of 1 to 10 based on data on nutritional value, environmental policies of the company that makes it, and their social impacts relative to other companies. Just scan the barcode to see how the product itself and its manufacturer stack up in the brave new world of responsible business.

Breadcrumbs

In 2009, IBM unveiled a concept for an app that would allow consumers to track where the food they were about to buy at their local grocer had been. Using a phone’s camera to scan an item’s barcode, the Breadcrumbs app would offer shoppers information about nutrition facts, when something was made, and if the product has been linked to any recalls. Recall information, in particular, is publicly available but not always widely distributed, so it offers consumers up-to-the-minute data on food safety.

Living Goods

Another concept app focuses on persuading its users to buy locally. Similar to Breadcrumbs, it involves scanning an item’s barcode to bring up a whole litany of information on it. But, an AUG/Living Goods app would emphasize an item’s seasonality, how far it’s traveled to get to the store, and details on the farm at which it originated. The idea was recognized as a 2010 Greener Gadgets finalist and would encourage behavior that will benefit the environment, as well as local economies.

2012-07-25

9 Apps To Help You Make Better Food Choices For Yourself And The Planet

The grocery store can be a daunting place. But armed with these handy apps, you can make informed decisions about which foods are doing the least damage to your body and the environment, and buy accordingly.

It’s hard to talk about the future these days without talking about apps. Back in 2008, our mobile phones were primarily for making calls and sending and receiving text messages. Now, they’re for tweeting, checking Facebook, playing Angry Birds, and utilizing apps that tell us when the next bus is coming, where the new Asian fusion restaurant in our neighborhood is, and allowing us to read the next new bestseller. They have also infiltrated our grocery store experiences, helping us when we’re choosing what types of foods to eat. Here are a few examples of apps that are already available to improve shopping and eating experiences and a couple that are coming soon.

For more videos and stories on innovative solutions in food technology, check out the rest of our Feeding the Future series.

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