Project Updates

This is all of the information we have so far.

FDA Nutrition Labels are Getting Makeovers

“The Food and Drug Administration says that updating nutrition labels is a priority this year, although it’s unclear when the labels will change.”

FDA food labels

Getting information from food labels was one of the problems we’ve identified at the start of this project. It would be great to find out where the food comes from — how far did it have to travel? How was it produced? What was the eco footprint for the food we are consuming? We need to be able to make better choices at our local supermarkets. But to do that, we need good information.

Food Fraud

New study finds a 60% increase in food fraud from last year! Be careful what you eat — olive oil, milk, saffron, honey, and coffee are the most common fraud foods. To learn more please visit foodfraud.org.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines food fraud as: “the fraudulent addition of nonauthentic substances or removal or replacement of authentic substances without the purchaser’s knowledge for economic gain to the seller.”

And it’s not just in U.S. Read the previous blog post about substitution of horse meat into hamburger beef patties in the UK!

Do people care what goes into their food? YES!

A few weeks ago, there was a food scandal: UK Tesco Supermarkets were selling hamburger patties labeled as beef but containing 29% horsemeat! Tesco issued many apologies…

BBC News did some investigative reporting, and Samantha Dalton wrote an article: “What is actually in a value burger?” The article provided the following information on the ingredients of beef economy burgers sold in UK:

  • 47% meat — defined as “skeletal muscle with naturally included or adherent fat and connective tissue” which has not been mechanically stripped from the carcass.
  • 10% onion and/or onion extract
  • fat
  • flour or rusk
  • dehydrated meat powders
  • stabilising chemicals

Rose Prince, a UK food journalist and author, said: “Supermarkets are battling with each other to be the cheapest, and demanding better and better deals from their suppliers.” Essentially, she is saying that it is us, the consumers, that are demanding low quality from our supermarkets. “You get what you pay for” kind of analysis.

So the next time you are thinking about buying a burger in England, you might think again and go vegetarian!

Ushahidi Community Leaders

Ushahidi Community Leader BadgeThis month, Tim and I were named the Ushahidi Community Leaders! This is a true honor and we are now members of a very distinguished group! Thank you Ushahidi team!

Current CrowdMap Numbers

This is just a quick update on our CrowdMap — a visual tour of the data…

2012-10 World Cost of Chicken CrowdMap

2012-10 Europe Cost of Chicken CrowdMap

2012-10 SF Cost of Chicken CrowdMap

Cost of Chicken Presentation at the California Science Teachers Conference

California Science Teachers Association LogoI’ve presented our project at the California Science Teachers Conference on October 19, 2012, in San Jose California. The teachers gathered for an evening discussion on the use of social media in science education. I talked about our CrowdMap, Ushahidi, and how our data can be used in a classroom. Below are some photos of the event. We also watched a few Green Ninja videos — a San Jose State University project teaching kids about conservation.

My presentation is linked below.

Nick Werby at the California Science Teachers Conference

Nick Werby at the California Science Teachers Conference

Nick Werby at the California Science Teachers Conference

2012-10-18 Cost of Chicken Slide Show

2012 10 18 Cost Of Chicken Slide Show Compressed from OlgaWerby

Origins of Food — Tracking Food Fraud

There’s an article on BBC: Food Fraud Tackled by Forensic Scientists by Anna-Louise Taylor.

Wine, spirits, meat and even baby food can all be faked, with fraudsters hiding their true origins. Now forensic scientists are clamping down on food fraud, which costs millions in lost revenue and can put the health and safety of the public at risk.

We noticed from looking at the Cost of Chicken crowdmap, that most people who post the information don’t know where their food comes from! This is a problem if we want to understand the quality of our food and minimize the ecological footprint by making good decisions at the supermarket. This is why we thought of creating a smart phone app that would help decode this information.

Rising Prices of Chicken in UK

BPC warns consumers of chicken price rises — yet another article and warning about the rising costs of food and chicken in particular. This time, the people of UK are warned to expect to pay more for chickens due to high cost of chicken feed, which has risen due to a bad harvest this year.

I hope people in UK will use our crowdmap to track the rising chicken inflation.

Chicken Inflation

chicken Inflation illustration from the Iranian.comOn August 8th of 2012, Meir Javedanfar wrote an article about the rising price of chicken in Iran (I just saw the article today!): The Price of Chicken. The article links the rising price of chicken (and other foods) to politics:

The supreme leader could, for example, blame the price of chicken — which has tripled since last year — on sanctions that the U.S. and the European Union imposed to deter Iran from continuing its nuclear-fuel plan. Yet that would mean admitting to both the West and ordinary Iranians that sanctions are having a big impact, something the regime is desperately trying to avoid. Iranian officials have instructed the news media not to discuss the effect that sanctions are having on the economy.

Perhaps, people in Iran can track the price of chicken around the world using our crowdmap?

Gathering Food Data in France

This summer, we went to France. Tim is interested in anthropology and the Dordogne Valley is a perfect place to explore some pre-historic caves and medieval castles. But this also gave us an opportunity to gather some food data from France. We did a lot of shopping at local farms, farmers’ markets, and supermarkets. These are different there…

Here we are on the train from Bordeaux to Paris, getting some time on a computer.

Nick and Tim on the train