We live in a country where the way we eat has changed more over the past 50 years than in the last 10,000, with more than 47,000 products to choose from at an average grocery store. Most of us have felt slightly hopeless and overwhelmed when faced with the barrage of product choices and brands at the grocery store. What makes one kind of apple better than the other 10? We all want to eat better and be healthier, but can we make these decisions for ourselves with the information provided?
Knowledge is power, and one savvy 2009 graduate of SCAD, John Healy, gives shoppers just that.
Healy, in collaboration with other SCAD students Shane Blomberg, Seth Laupus and Andrew Reeves created what’s called the Augmented Living Goods Program (AUG). It is a new application that works with smart phones, which gives shoppers the power to obtain information about the food they are buying. This cutting edge concept connects the producer to the consumer directly, enabling consumers to scan in a bar code and access information, such as the location of the farm, how far the product traveled from farm to table, whether or not it’s organic, whether the food is currently in season, if it is a specialty item and what the local impact is.
How does this work, exactly?
The grocer provides a bar code directory and add a smart phone-friendly sticker on each local farmer’s product. Not only does this help consumers make better judgments about what they are eating in terms of vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy, but it gives farmers a chance to promote the quality of their product. This also helps to build a relationship between the consumer and the producer. When you check out, you can scan your personal AUG card if you don’t have a smart phone, which sends your buying information to an online account.
Another option on the application allows you to access data history, which shows how others rate the products, allows you to input your own feedback, obtain pricing histories, as well as the ability to access your own buying trends.
In February, this app won the Greener Gadgets competition in New York. This competition seeks environmentally friendly inventions that impact the way we live. The competition included an orange solar-powered tent and the Automan 500, a speaker cabinet made out of rubber tires.
Healy initially was inspired by the documentary “Food, Inc.,” which looks at food production and how much we really know about what we eat. “Food, Inc.” also brings up the idea of shoppers “voting” every time they purchase from local and organic farmers versus the industrially processed food.
The AUG helps local communities by rewarding locally bought goods. Not only does buying locally increase your personal nutrition value, but it reduces carbon and strengthens the local economy. With this new smart phone application, shoppers will have the tools and the knowledge to make informative judgments about the food they are consuming.
What statement will you make?Contact Mary Katherine Schweitzer.