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  • Tanya 2:34 pm on March 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , contact zones, Derrida, food app, fooducate, , , , interconnectivity, storytelling, testifying   

    Update on Fooducate App 

    Although yesterday I couldn't get this app to  open, today it works fine. Once the app opened, I went straight to my kitchen and picked up a box of green tea for the cup I was preparing.


    Available on Android
    Android Market Rating: 4.5 Stars
    Created: February 17, 2012 by Fooducate, LTD.
    Memory: 3.71 MB
    Price: FREE
    Updates from Previous Version:
    • Improved alternatives & search algorithms
    • Bug fixes
    What It's Supposed to Do--Market Description: "Scan and choose healthy groceries."

    Criticisms from the Comments Forum: error messages, needs a bigger product database, cryptic information, can be slow, phone freezes, no grocery list function, snide editorials, trouble scanning codes with (HTC Evo, HTC G2, Sprint Epic, Galaxy Nexus Gsm), no option to save things you may want to buy in the future

    My Updated Review: No scan--not in the database. The app then requested that I take 3 pictures, send data...by which I had already moved on the finding something that would be in the database. I settled on a plastic container of Spicy Low-Sodium V8 from my fridge and successfully scanned the label.

    Here's where things get weird. The product comes up with a picture of the same produce I scanned, a letter grade based on the app's algorithm for healthiness. This is followed by a listing of the calories/servicing and a small green heart with "93% like"--though where this 93% comes from is unclear from here. When I scrolled to the right tab, Alternatives, a ribbon popped up at the bottom with "5 Better Options." Now was the moment to check the scope of rhetorical reasoning of this app--replacements included orange juice, two entries for different types of canned V8, bottled water, and tap water. Okay, so the algorithm doesn't seem very complex. The definitions it uses aren't very transparent. I can't yet tell if the app gets smarter as it learns what I like, but time will tell. I did learn that canned V8 has 30 fewer calories per serving than the plastic bottle, so I guess I will switch back to canned and now have guilt over the increase in shipping weight, and therefore its carbon footprint. Sigh--just can't win.

    One more reason for getting some tomatoes started in a bucket garden eventually...

    Below this menu ribbon is a second ribon with a list of icons and phrases. My first scan returned:
    For Dieters: Points value is 1
    Yippee - No added sweeteners!
    Naturally high in Vitamin A
    More to 100% juice than meets the eye?
    Natural Flavors Added. Learn why
    Learn about Citric Acid, found here
    Learn about juice concentrate

    In the Natural Flavors section, I learned that these are often animal products and should be avoided by vegetarians and vegans. Seems like the kind of app where, once I have read a few articles, then the labels for each will act as a quicker shorthand for the longer treatments of each nutritional factor.

    My only criticism (so far) is that the app gives good nutritional information about some products, its database is still being developed and it only supports consumer knowledge of the food itself and not the food's production process. The developers might point out that this is not the primary purpose of the app, but why should an app keep those two streams of knowledge separated when combining them would increase the convenience of shopping both healthily and ethically.

    We already have free trade stickers for products--can't we adapt that concept to an app like Fooducate? It seems to me that more people are expressing a desire to eat in a way that is both healthy and ethical. I'm not saying we give up cheesecake forever, but that we and our students work together to figure out what food means to each of our communities, and giving students a non-threatening way to access cross-cultural contact zones.

    After all, when my students in the past have chosen to write about a food controversy, like the GMO debates about Hawaiian kalo/taro, or factory farms, or even just after they have watched a documentary like "Food.Inc," they would all have probably used Fooducate if it included information about the methods of production, laborer payscales, livestock conditions, etc. of the actual product in front of us.

    I tend to be a bit Derridean at times and this is one--if every story has it's trace, the faint ghost of its influence and interconnectivity with other stories, then this technology could be a new form of storytelling/testifying--one that marks an Event (in Badiou's sense) for students' in terms of a change of consciousness and a devotion to that Event (app).
  • Tanya 3:25 pm on March 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bucket garden, communicty college, CSA, farmer's market, food app, Hawaii, , local food, locavore, nutrition, obesity, university, urban agriculture   

    Urban Agriculture & Education 

    This week we had a departmental meeting at HCC--usual stuff. One of our buildings is slated to be remodeled. That go me thinking about the planned remodeling of Kuykendall on the UHM campus and my recent conversations with my friend Bryan about urban agriculture--especially after the Honolulu Weekly published this feature story about the need for urban agriculture movements in Hawai'i.

    My bucket list should also be my grocery list.

    I asked at the HCC meeting if anything in the current renovation plans included urban agriculture. At the same time that Hawai'i has the 5th lowest obesity rate in the nation, we also have a Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population that is 3.7 more times likely to be obese compared to our Asian populations. Many of my students express a liking for Costco's cafeteria, where a full lunch can be purchased for under $5. This concerns me.

    Many of my students are commuters or ride the bus, so transportation time takes away much of their discretionary time that might be used to prepare lunches in advance at home. Ever tried to each a salad after a 45-minute commute? With no access to refrigeration? Many of my students also come from households with financial hardships, or they work two jobs. Many of them have neither the time nor the capital to shop for organic foods--or even fresh foods for that matter.

    My students, shoot even I, need a source of free/cheap local, organic produce. HCC has the Kalo farm where students can volunteer, and I see the occasional Papaya trees, but we could do so much more. Most of the objections to urban agriculture come from maintenance sectors, who reasonably want to avoid spoiled fruits/ veggies that attract bugs. However, the HCC language division alone is 40-50 people. If each faculty member invested one hour a week to care for one plant, we could have 40-50 plants. My friend Cara and I ended up chatting about this after our meeting ended.

    So to get to my point for this post...I started to wonder if there was an app for that. So I Googled "urban agriculture app" and got 60 million hits. Excited, I clicked the first site that popped up, Food and Tech. Disappointed, I went back to Google when all 5 of the apps reviewed were for iPhones only. After (much) more searching, I found several promising food apps:

    Compost News

    Available on Android
    Android Market Rating: 1 star
    Created: February 28, 2011 by Hippyapps
    Memory: 10.39 KB
    Price: FREE

    What it does:
    It is a newsfeed on composting.

    My Review:
    Loaded in less than a minute--however, I could only get it load once before it froze several times. This is one more to try tomorrow.

    Why I didn't review Farmbox: This app allows Android users to set up a growing system regulated by a smart phone, but it had a lighting rig rather than using sunlight, as in wall gardens, roof gardens, and bucket/lanai gardens. Since I want methods that use zero electricity and that will work on a large scale (like for a community college campus and a university campus), this app isn't really an option for what I want.


    Available on Android
    Android Market Rating: 4.5 Stars
    Created: February 17, 2012 by Fooducate, LTD.
    Memory: 3.71 MB
    Price: FREE
    Updates from Previous Version:
    • Improved alternatives & search algorithms
    • Bug fixes
    What It's Supposed to Do--Market Description: "Scan and choose healthy groceries."
    Criticisms from the Comments Forum: error messages, needs a bigger product database, cryptic information, can be slow, phone freezes, no grocery list function, snide editorials, trouble scanning codes with (HTC Evo, HTC G2, Sprint Epic, Galaxy Nexus Gsm), no option to save things you may want to buy in the future
    My Review:
    Although this app was a quick download (less than a minute), when I opened it, I immediately got an error message. After several restarts, I kept getting this message. Looks like I'll have to try this one tomorrow.

    Garden Guide

    Available on Android
    Android Market Rating: 3.5 stars
    Created: November 4, 2011
    Memory:0.93 MB
    Price: FREE

    What it does: Provides basic articles about growing specific plants and general gardening techniques.

    Criticisms from the Comments Forum: missing instructions, unintuitive setup, freezing, crashing, content not downloaded to Droid 2

    My Review: Took less than a minute to download the app, but downloaded content and registration took about 3 minutes. Once I got into the app, I found a list of articles about growing various plants and 3 buttons: Crops, Techniques, and Resources. I then realized that the menu was the interface for Crops, so I switched to Techniques. This menu looks the same as Crops, but with articles specifically devoted to the how part of gardening. Resources took me to a bulletin-like page with a somewhat short list of ouside resources, newsletters, software, etc.


    Available on iPhone and Android
    Android Market Rating: 3.5 stars
    Created: February 29, 2012 by Local Dirt
    Memory: 2.75 MB
    Price: FREE
    Updates from Previous Version:
    • CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) information added
    • Photoes, likes comments enables for farms, farmer's markets, CSAs
    What It Does: Search for and share in-season, local food. Maps farms, farmer's markets, and CSAs based on your GPS location.

    Criticisms from the comments forum: Excessive permissions, frequent freezing on GalNex, missing recipes in recipe section, some freezing/loading issues

    My review:
    The setup of my profile took less than 2 minutes, upon which I was greeted by a clean and simple interface that included options to "Share" by taking a photo, choosing from a gallery, or used a pic from the app.

    The "Forage" option is a Facebook like board where other local users connect to you. This might be a great way to find people dedicated to urban agriculture projects! So far, there are users from Honolulu, Kailua, Kaneohe, Pearl City, and Kahului.

    The "Local" button took me to a screen that showed my closest setter today is the Makiki District Park (People's Open Market). Clicking the "Local Sellers" button takes me to a list of several, organized by which are closest to my current GPS location. Users can also choose to sort these results by Farm, Farmer's Market, or CSA.

    The " In Season" button on the interface screen showed that Papayas are peaking in season (and reminds me to eat the one I bought at the UHM Farmer's Market this week). Clicking the button takes me to a list that shows what's currently in season and for how much longer. For example, Green Onions, Kumquats and Winter Squash have 4 weeks left from today. When I kept scrolling, I came to a list at the bottom for "Coming in Season Soon." Now that I know the markets will have Okra in 4 weeks, I can plan for making gumbo!

    Below the "Local" and "In Season" buttons is "Locavore," which shows the user(s) closest to me in miles.

    The "Recipes" button doesn't work--all I get is a message "That's not available right now but will be shortly--check the market for updates!"

    The "Me" button takes me to a food profile page, much like Facebook's interface.

    Overall, I like this app and will definitely be using it as I transition from busing to biking and will need to shop in smaller amounts more frequently.

    Organic Gardening for Beginners

    Available on the Android
    Market Rating:
    Price: $1.34

    What it does: This app is basically an online version of a book about organic farmin.,

    My review: The "chapters" are very short and might make good reading assignments--particularly in HCC's developmental classes if tied in with service learning.

    True Food

    Available on the Android
    Market Rating:4 Starts
    Created: July 7, 2012 by Center for Food Safety
    Price: FREE

    What does it do? I'm not too sure actually--their website is pretty vague on how this app works, but it sounds like to would help me find GMO products so I can choose alternative brands.

    My Review:
    Loads the install in less than a minute. The greeting screen has 4 buttons: What's New, 4 Simple Tips, Join the Network, Support Us. I choose to start with joining the network and, once again, get an error message. Looks like this is another one to try again tomorrow.

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