FREE SPEECH ZONE | Find local food and cook healthy with apps


Proclaimed the 2010 word of the year by the American Dialect Society, the term “app” has become a recent addition to our everyday lingo. “App,” short for “application,” refers to a computer program specifically designed to run on smartphones including the iPhone and Android. Since the initial launch of the iPhone in 2007, more than 350,000 apps have been created, offering an inexpensive and convenient way to store and access helpful data within these portable devices. While there are various apps available in categories ranging from economics to entertainment, here are a few to help find local and seasonable food, assist in cooking and avoid unhealthy additives:

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HarvestMark (free)

Interest in knowing where our food comes from has been a hallmark of the “buy local” movement and this app helps you track commercially grown produce back to its source. Found on more than 50 fresh fruits and vegetables throughout North America (I used it to track my Driscoll’s organic strawberries back to the Salinas Valley in California), it has been featured on ABC, NPR and in the Washington Post.


Locavore (free)

Named one of Time Magazine’s top ten iPhone apps of 2009, Locavore gives you information on nearby farmer’s markets, lists which produce is currently in season or will be available shortly and provides links to recipes using seasonal ingredients. Since it’s based on your phone’s GPS location, you can also use it when you travel to discover other seasonal foods around the country! 


Chemical Cuisine ($0.99)

Did you know the Food and Drug Administration has approved more than 3,000 additives since being established in 1906? A lot of them have long-sounding names that seem more appropriate for chemistry class instead of dinnertime. Chemical Cuisine, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (a national non-profit advocacy group focusing on nutrition), has a page on their website featuring a searchable list of food additive descriptions and safety ratings to help you make healthy decisions. After discovering that it was one of their site’s most visited pages, they created a useful and convenient app with the same information. Try it the next time you see something unpronounceable to determine whether it should be avoided.


Serving Sizer ($0.99)

Whether you’re cooking for one or catering an event for 80, you can use the Serving Sizer app to convert recipe ingredients from one serving size to another. You can use all the common sizes including cups and tablespoons and it even converts between metric and U.S. measurements if you have a recipe from Europe.


The world of apps is continuously evolving and, since no single app is going to work for everyone, I encourage you to seek those which help save time, avoid mistakes and offer convenient advice. Happy surfing!