As someone who recently watched the documentary film Forks Over Knives, I’m more interested in knowing where my food comes from and how it found its way to my plate. That’s how I found my way to Real Time Farms. It’s a great site for foodies and hippies who want a narrative behind the meal that’s in front of them. Anyone can post food information to RTF (shoppers, farmers, and restaurateurs) so that site visitors can chart the course of their food starting at the farm where it came from to the market where it was purchased, to the restaurant that it’s now being served in. It’s a great idea. And I was totally sold. Until I started touring the site and noticed that there’s not a single farm, market, or restaurant listed in my area. And even the areas that are covered still only have limited listings.
That’s one of the risks of crowdsourcing information. The success of those sites is entirely dependent on the regular participation of users and therefore it sometimes takes awhile for them to be useful to the casual visitor. It might take awhile for Real Time Farms to prove itself, but I hope that with time site founders Karl and Cara Rosaen will be able to steward RTF to a more comprehensive site that I visit on a regular basis.
Crowdsourcing is also helping organic gelato shop Giapo in New Zealand to source their latest concoctions by reaching out to the crowd to find their freshest organic fruits to create sorbets through their website. Giapo is seriously creative… their latest blog post highlights a sorbet that will include mushrooms. But instead of simply looking to the crowd for the recipes, Giapo is getting their actual ingredients from their fans.
Finally, for those of you looking to better regulate nutrition, a recent blog talks about the development of PlateMate, a program that allows users to snap a pic of their food and upload it for analysis: calories, portions, and which behaviors you might need to modify to be healthier. Who provides that information? The crowd on Mechanical Turk.
How else can crowdsourcing help regulate behavior? In what other ways can crowdsourcing help us make healthy decisions?