Information Technology Supporting Transparent Future Food Policy
From “Information Technology: Coming to a Food Policy Near You” by Mari Pierce-Quinonez:
There are currently dozens of smartphone and internet apps designed to bring good food to tech-savvy consumers. You can now type in your location, the type of food you want and immediately get both directions to the best restaurant to go and the story behind the food they’re serving. If buying food in bulk to cook at home is more your thing, beta versions of a wholesale purchasing app is now available by invitation. Or if you want to grow your own, there are applications to aid you in planning your garden, sites to find a yard if you don’t already have one, and mobile apps with maps to fruit-bearing trees on public property. But the food system is more than foodies finding their next fix: the modern tech-movement goes beyond consumer-oriented apps. Food advocates and academics are using technology to connect the food system dots and are making good food policy decisions easier.
In the past, federal policymakers kept track of their own program-specific data: how many acres of farmland they had preserved, the nutrition status of the US population, the amount of vitamin D available in a particular type of milk. By moving everything online and opening this data up to everyone, all sorts of sophisticated policy recommendations can be made. The USDA’s Food Environment Atlas was released last year to much fanfare for the interactive maps that could show the state of the national food system. Much more exciting was the fact that this data was all available for download, and the site continues to act as a datahub for food policy advocates. Advocates and technophiles are using this data to produce reports and visualizations that help rally support as they begin to mobilize around the 2012 farm bill.
Read the full article by Mari Pierce-Quinonez over on Projects To Finish Someday.