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A tomato has a value also outside a cheesburger

If food is given the right value then technology can be a social enabler to healtier lives

Photo of Daniele Fiorucci

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Looking at the very basis of people choices we may find instinct, emotions, feelings, or primary needs; by the way these elements are measured through a metric that consciously or unconsciously we apply to them: that is value.

Choosing to eat a tomato or a cheesburger, believe or not, is only a matter of value.

I am not saying that taste is not involved during the choice, I am saying that it can happen that the value given to taste overcomes the value given to healthiness.

In Italy, the nation where I live in, people give a lot of value to the food; and when I say that the average Italian man gives a lot of value to the food I mean that it is quite common to hear someone complaining that "the quality of tomato at the supermarket is pretty lower compared to the one I find when I go back home in Sicily" or stating that "I buy meat only and directly from the farmer I trust".

It is due to the fact that the majority of Italians have some kind of relationship with agriculture, even many marketing or finance people living in Rome or Milan have their grandparents who used to working in the fields.

Here comes the point of the provocation, how might we use technology to help people give more value to healthy and genuine food?

How might we use technology to create connection between the users and the origin of the products?

What about virtual reality or augmented reality  to create in shop-experiences that let people understand how a particular food is grown and appreciate its real value?

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Photo of André Fernandes

Hi Daniele,
I knew about your idea as Caio mentioned it commenting on another one I posted. What suggestions would you give?
Check here: https://openideo.com/challenge/healthy-lives/ideas/gardening-and-recycling/comments#c-f8f5f370134d46cb215c82f92fcee9a0

Photo of OpenIDEO

Daniele, congrats on being featured in our community highlights blog! Check it out in the latest issue of ReFresh here: https://openideo.com/blog/refresh-08-healthy-lives-challenge-highlights-insights-for-human-centered-technologies

Photo of Caio De Matos

Hey, I just got an idea (2 actually) to connect people with the origin of their foods. I really think that creating a sense of belonging and ownership in that case is a powerful method, so here are my ideas:

1 - Technology in a direct relationship with the production: Providing a small kit to help people grow plants like fruits and vegetables for their own use inside their houses - technology comes in to help this being done in little space and maybe with built-in luminosity and humidity, so the user can set the kit in adequate conditions for each kind of plant, so the activity gets easier and less frustrating;

2 - Technology in an indirect relationship with production: I'm thinking about a website or an app where a person (or a group of people) coulp pay an amount of money to "adopt" a plant (or a small piece of land, like 1m²) from local farmers or producers, and receive all (or a previously defined share, if it is a group of people) the vegetables/fruits produced by that plant/piece of land. In that network, people who have adopted, for example, a tomato plant, could exchange a part of their tomatoes with other people for other vegetables they need. The money paid for the "adoption" (it could be like a monthly fee) would help the farmers pay the costs (and have a little profit, of course), and if the "adopter" doesn't consume/trade the production of the plant, it can be sold and the adopter gets a share of the profit.

In both of those ideas, you create on the user the perception of owning, which will probably make this healthy food more valuable for them. What do you think, are those good ideas?

Photo of Daniele Fiorucci

These are really great ideas Caio! Thanks a lot for sharing!
They could also be combined, I mean that if you decide to adopt some tomato plants, you also receive a little tomato plant at YOUR house, so that you can feel how it is to grow one and make you wish to adopt more!
Another thing that comes to my mind is to use a webcam to let adopter see their plants and virtually meet the farmers.

Photo of Caio De Matos

Yes, combining them is a great idea!! So you could share tour tomatoes with tour neighbours, or exchange between neighbours who also have plants. Maybe that could help low income neighbourhoods get easy access to healthy food through a shared vegetable garden.
The webcam is also a good idea, if they get to meet the farmers it could help build that trust relationship like the one you mentioned on tour contribution

Photo of Shane Zhao

Insightful provocations Daniele! Our interactions with the offerings at supermarket chains and convenience stores has definitely changed how we make decisions about our food choices - where accessibility, affordability, and quantity often trumps the value of how food is grown and produced. Emerging farm-to-fridge services, like Good Eggs, are great examples of how technology can be used as social enablers to healthier lives: https://www.goodeggs.com/welcome It's worth taking a peek:)

On this topic, you might be also be interested to check out Avani's post on how technology can be used to reconnect people to forgotten traditions of healthy meal preparation: https://openideo.com/challenge/healthy-lives/research/go-back-to-the-roots

Photo of Caio De Matos

Wow, I loved the concept of Good Eggs! I wish there was something like this where I live, it would really make easier to find fresh and organic products. And I think it is a great way to help small producers to survive competition against giant agrobusiness companies

Photo of Daniele Fiorucci

Thanks Shane for your contribution! "Good Eggs" is a great idea, it could be widened in order to involve not only local producers but also "developing countries producers".

Photo of hdhzhmqipin

Thanks for sharing this article.

Photo of Hannah Tran

It's good to define the true value of our foods. There are a lot of factors need to be considered such as preference, taste, price....It is important to tacke all the aspects at the same time.

Photo of April Parsons

Thank you for this! I'm really excited to see how this idea expands.

Photo of Caio De Matos

Daniele, I think the opening sentence of your contribution really sums up a very important part of this problem: "If food is given the right value..."

The example you gave about relationship italians have with food is great, and I think there is a lot of cultural influence involved. However, thinking about other countries and cultures, I wonder how big is the role of advertising, and how much culture can influence this aspect... To name some examples:

- In Brazil, what I see is that the great amount of money spent on advertising for processed or junk food make those items more "desirable"as the organic, fresh or healthy ones. On the other hand, a great deal of people from our generation didn't have access to fast food restaurants or candies during childhood because of their prices, which made them become like prizes or symbols of celebrations, as they would only reach them once in a while, like a luxury item. Well, now this generation has grown up, works and has its own money, so they can eat a Big Mac or a Candy bar whenever they want, and they'll really do it;

- Not so far away, in another Latin American Country, Bolivia, McDonald's has closed its doors more than a decade ago, because they just couldn't profit enough, even with all the advertising, special recepts according to the local taste for food and every other resource they have as a giant multinational company. And all of that because of the value this people give to their food (http://news.yahoo.com/bolivia-country-no-mcdonald-174447623.html)