By Alana Mandrick, Gaia Intern
Are you a foodie? Are you techy (or just like to pretend that you are)? And are you looking to limit waste in our food system? In this day and age, there’s an app for that.
30-40% of food in the U.S. is going to waste, so it is needless to say that waste is a major problem in our food system. Every individual plays a role in this dynamic food system we’ve created, so it’s increasingly important to bring about awareness on the impacts of food waste if we strive to create a more sustainable future. Fortunately, there are more tools at our disposal now than ever before to make sustainable living an attainable goal. In the “there’s an app for that” era, there are lots of technologies revolving around food consumption and even food waste. I’ve taken the time to investigate a few for myself, and was pleasantly surprised at the utility of these resources.
Note: I downloaded all of these apps on my iPhone 5S, but some of these may also be applicable to other devices. All of these apps can be used to help users reduce food waste in easy, unique ways — and luckily for those of us on a budget, all of these apps are also free.
Is My Food Safe?: This app isn’t very extensive, but that’s what makes it appealing! It’s quick, easy, and simple, covering the basics of keeping your food and kitchen safe. This app offers interactive guides and quizzes for you to test your knowledge on safe kitchen and cooking practices. I especially found this app useful as a rule-of-thumb guide for if I’m unsure about how long my produce will remain good for, or for how long I should cook something to make sure it will be safe to eat. This app lists the life span of almost any food item you can think of, which can help prevent waste—if you know how long you have to store your food BEFORE you buy it, you’ll be less likely to waste it because you’ll know to use it before its time is up.
Locavore: This app is easy to navigate and has something for everyone. It has a section for finding local farmers and farmers’ markets, a section listing which types of produce are in season and for how long (as well as direct links to information about these foods and recipes you can use them in), a section for finding other local locavores, whom you can follow and share recipes and other sustainable practices with, and more. Everything about this app helps users make sustainable living easier. Buying foods according to the seasons means that they will taste better, stay fresh longer, and be more nutritious, and buying locally means that food waste would generally be reduced at least on a local level — not to mention that it helps support local businesses.
Gojee Food and Drink Recipe App: Of all the apps I tried out, this was definitely my favorite. Even if you’re not concerned with sustainability and just a food lover or a cooking enthusiast, this app is perfect for you. It provides endless recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and everything in between (including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, etc.). However, for the sustainability-minded foodie, it’s even better. One feature that I thought was awesome was that you could type in any type of food or ingredient (for example, I had tofu sitting in my refrigerator that I didn’t know what to do with, but I also didn’t want to throw it away as it neared its expiration date), and Gojee will come up with a variety of unique recipes that incorporate those ingredient(s)—helping you divert food from the trash can while also helping you learn how to cook up a delicious new meal! Other cool features of this app include helping you manage grocery lists, being able to “favorite” recipes to save for later, and more.
Technology could help us work toward a sustainable future, if we use it right. Seemingly simple technologies such as apps create a means for individuals to reduce their consumptive waste with minimal effort. If you’re looking to make a difference in our food system, but don’t know where to start, these apps can be a great source of information, creative alternatives and solutions. No matter what, there is always something that we can do to reduce and mitigate our impact.