Friday, June 10, 2011

Write to Trace

I have an idea and I think it’s a pretty great one. I call it Write to Trace. (That’s a play on Rights, as in: the right we have to know where our food came from.) It could be a website, or an iPhone application. 

Basically, it is a database that provides information about the origin and journey of the food you are thinking about purchasing. (Of course, if everyone went to farmers’ markets and just talked to the farmer, it would be a lot simpler, but most people would rather shop at large grocery stores for one reason or another.). At the grocery store, you would simply hold your phone up to the produce barcode and a list of information would flow into your hands. You would then be able to make a more informed choice about the produce you are buying, as well as more accurately gauge its ethicality.

The barcode would work the same way as FedEx keeps track of parcels. The Write to Trace application would tell you: 

- Where and what time the product left its original origin
- How many miles it has traveled and by what means
            - ( so, there could also be a CO2 calculator)
- When it arrived at its final destination

Of course, this would require participation, but with technology so available and accessible, I imagine ( perhaps naively) that it would be as simple as the truck driver scanning the boxes from the farm as they are loaded onto the truck. The scanner could be GPS activated, and so as the truck driver travels, the produce is tracked. At the destination, boxes could be scanned as they were unloaded, and bada-boom there you have it!

I bet Fair Trade programs could use this application, and no doubt 100km foods, Sustain Ontario and Foodland Ontario would be happy to support something that puts the importance of local into a technological, visual medium.

Results would look like this:

Ingredient identified: Tomato

Results: Tomato, SunKissed Farms, New Market
 July 3: Hand picked tomatoes are stored for pick up
July 3, 10am: Sent by truck to Loblaws ( 400 miles, ___CO2 emmisions)
July 3, 4pm: Arrive at loblaws.
July 4: Tomatoes from SunKissed Farms on display

What do you all think?

*January 6th, 2012: Well what do you know: 

1 comment:

  1. It is a great idea Jenny! Since digital barcode scanning is used for flight tickets on an iphone it should be possible to scan the other way as well!

    I found one for calories, maybe email some environmental companies to adapt this one:

    More apps here:


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