Fresh Food: There’s an App for That
A look at five local-food apps worth downloading.
By Jodi Helmer
February 14, 2012
Photo courtesy getlocavore.com
Information on fresh, local food is now readily accessible through your smart phone.
Wondering where to find the nearest farmers market? Curious about the “Animal Welfare Approved” label on an egg carton? Want to know which fruits and veggies are in season? Look no further than your phone. A host of fresh-food apps are available for smart phones, putting local-food resources at your fingertips.
Here are a few local-food apps worth downloading:
The National Resources Defense Council created an iPhone app to help users decipher labeling claims. The app provides definitions for over 200 labels — from antibacterial and biodegradable to eco-safe — shedding light on product claims and helping users make purchasing decisions. A dedicated “food” section includes definitions like free-range, Certified Humane and Food Alliance Certified. Users can search based on product, label or rating.
The free app rates the claims on a scale of zero to four, taking into account whether the claim addresses environmental, health and worker safety issues; is based on meaningful standards; and is verified through a third party. A label with a four-leaf rating is the highest, while a zero rating means the label is unreliable and has no meaning.
Released by the National Resources Defense Council in 2012, this free download includes nationwide listings of farmers markets, searchable by zip code. Each market listing features the address and a list of its offerings. The app also lists seasonal recipes to make the most of fresh, local ingredients. Through the “submit market” tab, users can upload farmers’ market listings to the database.
The app also has a “What’s in Season?” tab that uses your location information to provide a listing of what foods are fresh off the farm in your area.
Rated the Best iOS App for Foodies, this free iPhone app uses your GPS location to find nearby farms and farmers’ markets. Click on one of the colored pins for the address, contact information and list of available items. The app also includes listings of produce currently in season as well as a “coming in season soon” list with timelines of when new crops will appear at local markets.
Although the app has a recipe section with separate entries for recipes using produce currently in season and recipes using produce soon to be in season, there are no entries — just a message that promises recipes are coming soon.
The other limitation of the Locavore app is its focus on local fruits and vegetables. There are no listings for meat, milk or eggs.
Whole Foods Market Recipes
After you’ve stocked up on local produce at the farmers market and filled your shopping basket with free-range eggs, organic honey and grass-fed beef at Whole Foods, enter the ingredients into the recipe finder and let the free app make suggestions for your dinner menu.
In addition to allowing users to search for recipes based on ingredients, the app can also search based on diet type, including gluten-free and vegan or other meal categories such as budget or quick and easy. Save recipes to a favorites list for future reference.
Since it’s a Whole Foods app, the download also maps all of the Whole Foods stores in your area with links to the store website and information about specials.
$1.99 is a small price to pay to download an app that can help cut down on food waste.
The iPhone app helps users select produce by offering tips for picking the best quality fruits and vegetables like knocking on watermelons and sniffing pineapples.
Once you’ve used the app to help you pick the best produce, look up tips for properly storing food to preserve its freshness and taste. (Hint: store corn in the refrigerator to help maintain its sugar content and sweetness.)
The developer also added information about pesticide levels for produce, letting you choose which foods to purchase organically based on their chemical residues.
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