Day 296–A Healthy App–Farmanac!

Produce

The Farmanac app gives you resources at the farmer’s market and at the grocery store!

I’ve posted before about how technology can help us navigate the world of healthy food and help us make good choices. Sometimes these apps work well and sometimes they don’t. Here is another new app that I think is pretty good!

Farmanac is a new iTunes store app that lists produce by name and by PLU code (the code that grocers use) to provide photos of the produce, information on the residual pesticide level (ties into the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen test scores), information about the produce, how to select it, how to store it, and when it is locally in season in your area (see below).

The app is very easy to use and includes some interesting historical and agricultural information! I like the photos, too. In my experience, grocery stores don’t always label their produce correctly, so it’s nice to be able to check what you are buying! Also great to see where the produce falls on the pesticide scale so you can find out quickly if it is preferable to buy organic.

The screen visuals are nice and easy to see. Here is a screen shot about cabbage from my iPhone. Pretty sure it would look fab on my iPad as well, but I don’t take that shopping, so I only used my phone to test.

Where this app falls short is its listing what is “in season” for various regions of the US and Canada. News to app makers: yes, Kentucky and Texas were both Confederate states, but their growing seasons are very different. Please don’t lump them together as “The South.” I’m sure folks in say, western Canada feel the same way. If the app makers can refine that portion of the app (maybe by growing season instead of by state) and include links to recipes, this would be golden.

For now, though, it’s still very good and at $1.99, a good resource to have while shopping or meal planning.

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Day 67–There’s An App for That

My phone knows where my food comes from. That seems like crazy talk to me. Wasn’t it just yesterday I was using my brother’s super fast Commodore 64K to play Space Invaders?

I don’t think I can say it enough, but I love my iphone. My poor little laptop is becoming more of a doorstop as I marvel at the possibilities of my phone. The number and variety of apps continually amazes me, even if most of them are fluff. And as much as my daughter loves Plants vs. Zombies, I tend to favor those apps that help me get through my days in a more practical way. My newest find is HarvestMark, an app that actually tracks the source of your food. For reals.

There are limits, of course. Your food has to include a bar code or QR code, which does limit the possibilities. But for me, food with a bar code is where I have more concerns. I typically know where my whole foods come from–the processed and pre-bagged foods are more of a mystery. The database of bar codes is still improving, so while some things like canned soup are not listed yet, others like packaged fruits and meats, are. It isn’t perfect, but it is the start of something exciting. Another tool to help me be an informed consumer.

I’m enjoying using the tool, but trying not to irritate other shoppers in Trader Joes by becoming one of “those people” who blocks food access by busying myself on my phone. Lord knows, I am usually the person not-s0-patiently tap, tap, tapping my foot while waiting for someone to back away from the Greek yogurt. So for now, you will find me in the empty aisle by the fiber supplements, scanning my food. I am not playing Plants vs. Zombies. Probably.