Wide range of smartphone apps help reduce food waste

Here’s another food waste post from the archive.

Radish_3371103037_4ab07db0bf_oAre my radishes still good? They are, but I need one more ingredient for this soup. Can I get a deal? Forget it, I just got notification of a restaurant special that’s too good to pass up. Let’s go!

Consumer smart phone apps that help prevent food waste take several different forms. They may organize pantries and grocery lists, determine if previously purchased food is still good, help with food preparation, or connect consumers with deals from retailers and restaurants.

Green Egg Shopper is an app on the iOS platform. Users create a shopping list in the app. At the store, they enter expiration dates into the app, then, they can check for items nearing expiration in their pantry any time, and plan meals accordingly. Is My Food Safe is an app for iOS or Android that answers question about best storage practices and shelf life, and provides safe preparation practices as well.

Apps that notify consumers of special offers by retailers and restaurants of perishable food need to have a local user base. In New York City, there’s PareUp, where restaurants and retailers post the availability of discounted, surplus perishables, and consumer reap the benefits. They plan to expand to twelve more cities in 2015, visit them to suggest Cincinnati! In San Francisco, Cropmobster connects an entire food production and consumption community, with items discounted, free to take, wanted, and events all part of the conversation. Ratatouille is an app for iOS that connects consumers in a 12.5 mile radius with one another to share excess produce. Or, there’s LeLoca, an app for iOS and Android that allows restaurants owners to reach potential diners in a geographic area which they control. Those potential diners have 45 minutes to get a table, and collect their discount.

Users who take advantage of these apps can both save money, and reduce food waste.

Food Cowboy enables donation of refused truckloads


While flannelnerd relaxes with his family, here is a post from the archives, suggested by a  recent post from foodtank.

Big rig loads of refused food no longer go to waste with the smartphone app, Food Cowboy.

Non-profit organizations devoted to more equitable food distribution, like others, have difficulty staying on the minds of potential donors after the giving binge brought by the holidays. As said on TV, “There’s an app for that.”n this case, potential donors are truck drivers with refused loads of perishable food, say, eggplant or potatoes. “They say it should be dark or it should be purple. I’m not really sure what color eggplant is supposed to be, but a lot of times, eggplant is refused because it’s not the color they want,” explains long-haul trucker, Richard Gordon, who spoke to the radio program, Marketplace. “Or you might get a load of potatoes with too many eyes in it or too many curves and they reject it for that reason.”

Richard Gordon and brother Roger Gordon have a long history of serving the public good. Richard has hauled humanitarian supplies as part of FEMA’s response team during every hurricane disaster since 1992. Roger is a lawyer who has served Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the League of Urban Gardeners, both in San Francisco. They never enjoyed seeing loads like these go to waste. At first, they would team up to donate refused loads. In 2012, they launched the smartphone app, Food Cowboy, to connect unwanted food with food banks and soup kitchens.

When a driver posts the availability of food to the app, he gets responses from organizations who need it. He can do this while posting his own needs, like where he’s headed, and the size and capability of his vehicle in potentially tight places. The organizations pay ten cents a pound, and the suppliers get a tax write-off.

Food Cowboy also enables supermarket produce managers, restaurant garde mangers, and others along the supply chain to post the availability of unwanted perishables. Then, non-profits may pick them up, or consumers volunteer to take them there.

Billions of wings, equal numbers of feet

Homemade_buffalo_wings1.25 billion. That’s the number of chicken wings that the National Chicken Council expects to be consumed by Americans participating in Super Bowl activities this weekend.

Demand like this can only increase price: predictably, wholesale chicken wing prices hit their peak in January 2013 at $2.11 per pound. This year’s price is down from that peak at $1.71.

“Although the total amount of pounds of chicken produced last year rose by about 1.8 percent, the total number of chickens processed was virtually the same in 2014 as is was in 2013,” National Chicken Council Vice President of Communications Tom Super told PR Newswire. “A chicken only has two wings; therefore, the supply of wings is limited by the total number of chickens produced.”

And the rest of the chicken? Heck, we don’t even eat the entire wing. A chicken wing consists of three sections: the drumette, closest to the body; the flat, which contains two bones and is analagous to our forearm, and the tip, all the way on the end and consisting mostly of cartilage and skin. The tips go to China, get deep-fried, and eaten as a very similar snack to the Buffalo wing. China also imports chicken feet. This was the subject of a trade disagreement at one time, with the Chinese claiming we were getting artificially low prices for our chicken feet. Uh, the price is low ’cause we don’t want them. Chinese officials eventually accepted this logic.

In fact, the chicken market in the U.S. doesn’t extend far beyond the white meat. “The boneless, skinless breast is king in the United States,” Tom Super said, this time speaking to National Geographic’s blog, The Plate. Dark meat represents the biggest part of chicken exports. It used to go to Russia and Eastern Europe, but questionable U.S. practices, like antibiotic use and chlorine rinses, have had a chilling effect on exports to Russia. Now Angola competes with them, distributing U.S. chicken throughout Africa. We also trade chicken parts with our neighbors, Canada, Cuba, and Mexico, and China’s neighbors, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

So, if you’re eating a chicken wing today, raise a drumette to those who consume the rest of the chicken, keeping the price of those limited wing segments at a reasonable level.