Sustainable Food Apps: Using Smartphones to Make Green Choices


Sustainable Food Apps: Using Smartphones to Make Green ChoicesIngenious app developers are at it again with some new and updated tools to revolutionize the way we go green. While my last “app update” spotlighted a wide range of “green apps,” I decided to focus this piece on a topic that was applicable to everyone—food.

The world of environmentally-conscious food can be convoluted and deceiving to the average person.  How can consumers possibly know the environmental impact of every single food item? How do we know when to buy organic? And finally, how do we know the seasonal foods in any given area? Well, with the power of smartphones, these answers and more are now at your fingertips:

1) Fishing for Sustainable Seafood

If gazing at a seafood menu leaves you swimming in sustainable concerns, Seafood Watch, a free app sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, employs GPS technology to suggest the best seafood to eat by region and offers a list of restaurants and seafood markets that offer greener options. Seafood Watch is available on iOS and Android.

As for sushi lovers, a new app called Green Sushi Selector has pre-researched everything on the menu. Search any fish name (in Japanese or English), and this convenient tool will tell you whether the fish is endangered or caught in an environmentally insensitive manner, and how often you should be eating the fish to sustain a healthy diet. At 99 cents, the app costs less than a California roll and works on iOS and Android.

2) Organic Shopping: Behind the Labels

As organic foods become increasingly popular in stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, it has actually become harder to know when to buy organic. That’s where Soleil Organics, a new iOS/Android app, comes in. Simply look up the item by category on your smartphone, and the app will tell you whether you really need to buy food with an organic label.

While many non-organic foods use pesticides, others (like asparagus) don’t attract pests, meaning you don’t have to worry about the label. We all know how shockingly expensive organic foods can be, and this app has the potential to save organic shoppers a lot of money.

As Green Living Press has already mentioned in a previous article, various fruits and vegetables fall under the Dirty Dozen label, meaning they are the most likely to be touched by pesticides. To view which produce items you should be concerned about, check out the Dirty Dozen app, put out by The Environmental Working Group. This handy app lists 15 fruits and vegetables that don’t need the magic label to be considered organic.

The Organic Trade Association, in alliance with Earth Day Network and Music Matters, has also released a free iPhone app that is bound to save you some spending money. “Go Organic” offers free e-coupon books for organic products to empower you in your crusade against pesticide use.

If you’re not a coupon queen (or king) after downloading that app, the addition of CouponSherpa’s free Apple/Android app will at least guarantee you the status of “eco-conscious miser.” This app gives offers an extensive list of mobile coupons to make sure your wallet isn’t taking any abuse for your environmental consciousness.

3) From the Farm to Your Fridge 

Farmers’ markers are the place to be when you want to get your produce straight from the farmer’s hand, but even farmers’ markets can be deceptive as you pick out your seasonal produce.

To simplify the confusion, Locavore has come out with an iOS/Android app that highlights in-season foods based on location and even offers great recipe suggestions from Epicurious to expand your culinary wisdom. Locavore combines GPS technology with the “almighty” power of Wikipedia to save you time and make sure you are eating the freshest foods.

If you find yourself lost in the urban jungle, you can use 3rd Whale to find the closest greenest businesses to help you do your grocery shopping in the most eco-conscious way. While the app goes beyond grocery stores and food sources, it nonetheless remains a valuable resource in the hunt for sustainable foods.

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Having a green diet is not only better for Mama Earth; it’s better for your overall health. While all the little details seem a bit overwhelming, your eco-sensitivity is bound to become a lot simpler and lighter on your pocketbook.