Good Food at your Fingertips
Two BSU students wrote a proposal for a web-based application that will help users make best food choices. The plan earned them a spot presenting next month at Barilla’s fourth annual International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan.
Developed over the summer by sophomore Linnea Kennison and senior Behtash Bahador, the proposal was one of 10 selected internationally as part of the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition’s Young Earth Solutions contest (BCFN-YES). The forum, held from Nov. 28-29, will play host to food and sustainability experts from around the world.
Named simply GoodFood, the students’ proposed mobile app will gather information -- nutrition facts, sustainability benefits, and additional research -- on selected food items and offer preferences for best eating choices based on personalized data. It can be used at restaurants, supermarkets, and other venues.
Best of all, it helps simplify the plethora of information available today on good food, said Mr. Bahador of Marlborough. “It will basically give you a choice of diet, telling you what you can eat that is good for you and good for the planet,” he said. “We want to give people some sort of concrete place to go to where they can say, ‘This is what I should be doing.’”
The app will also help keep people up-to-date on the steady stream of new information available on food issues. “There are things we don’t know about our food that impacts our environment every day and if you continue to consume that, if you don’t know or think about it, you could be potentially hurting your planet,” said Ms. Kennison of Stowe. “People need to know.”
After the forum, the BCFN will pick one of the 10 presenters as the winner, earning them a chance to publish with and research for BCFN, as well as a 1,000 euro prize (roughly $1,300). And what started out as a contest project could turn into a small business venture for the undergraduates, as they have decided to put some of that prize money toward a prototype.
Possible features for the app include restaurant deals, a calendar to mark upcoming farmers’ markets, and a GPS to help users find good food venues and share the locations on Facebook and Twitter.
That idea of sharing via social networks contributes to the students’ broader goal. “We don’t just want individuals to improve their diets, we want to really make a huge impact on changing the Western diet in general,” said Mr. Bahador. “Without big changes there aren’t going to be big changes in the world.”
The app has the ability to go national and global, and the world could use it, said Dr. Arthur Lizie, associate professor and chair of communication studies who served as the students’ mentor. “People always want to do good and always want to especially eat well, but in our society we don’t really make it easy to make those choices. This would be one way to make it easier,” he said, adding, “It’s something I would definitely use.” (Rob Matheson, '07, G '12)
For more information on the conference visit: http://www.bcfnyes.com/index.php?lang=en