If all the food we bought could tell us what we should do with them, we'd have lesser things to keep in mind & fret over!
That possibility drives this idea.
I walk into a store & pick all the items I want. I go to the checkout counter & scan the code on my app with the clerk. She goes ahead & adds the foods to my bag (cotton). Each item has a special QR code which lets me know what I bought, how much of it I bought, when I bought it, when can I expect it to get spoilt, etc. Soon, my app knows all the foods I have with me. Here is all that one could achieve with this approach:
- Inventory of food: By storing all purchase & consumption in one accessible place (synced across devices), one is better informed about what one has without having to open the fridge or cabinets to actually find out.
- Food Advisor: Once the app knows what you have, it can provide you advice on how to use it. For each food item, recipes are curated based on the item selected (e.g. Bell peppers, in the image above) in conjunction with the other foods in your pantry weighed by recipes that use the selected item along with items that are at risk of getting wasted (e.g. Bell peppers + tomato recipes trump bell peppers + spinach). The Food Advisor also invites creative ways in which you have used the food items making it available to other conscious consumers (and winning you points for sharing your ideas). Warnings & alerts are raised for food going waste, suggestions on how to test if the food is indeed spoilt, how to recycle spoilt food - these and many more feature as the ways in which the Food Advisor helps you.
- Centralised food management: With this app being shared between family, party planners, potluck chefs, etc. food wastage could be reduced by increasing communication. When I bought the bag of carrots, my partner is informed when she picks a packet on her way back that we already have carrots.
- Historical trend: Over time, I get to know how I use food, how do I always assume that I need 4 pounds of potatoes but regularly waste 1+ pounds, how I always run out of onions, how I substituted garlic powder for garlic, days of the week when I buy & waste, etc. This helps my app guide me better when buying. The next time when I pick up a bag of tomatoes & scan it in my app (before placing it in my cart), my app will tell me that I have usually bought this quantity & wasted 1 lb, so I might consider tomato paste which lasts longer.
- Win points & freebies: With every food item completely consumed or donated or recycled, you win points. With every Food Advisor suggestion you followed, you win points (& strengthen the suggestion for others). With every idea you share, you win points. All these actions of yours defines your profile as a conscious consumer. The points you win can be exchanged for discounts & freebies offered by partnering supermarkets/brands (who like to be seen as supporting conscious consumption & reducing wastage).
- Inform supermarkets: And as you win, so do businesses. As they keep getting information about the consumption patterns of their clients (shared anonymously) they are able to manage their inventory better & reduce wastage. They are also able initiate buy-back schemes (say, 5 days before something is going to get spoilt) so that they may sell it to customers from lower income backgrounds (increases social capital).
- Partner with food-redirecting businesses: The app also lets you partner with businesses that accept food excesses that they can channelise into charity or social causes of feeding animals (humans included). And yes! this wins you points too & enhances your profile as a conscious consumer.