Is Technology Making Us Healthier?

Online resources and mobile apps for local food

I grew up on boxed, processed food. Weekend dinners were an exception to the rule, but my parents, managing two kids and full-time careers, did often succumb to the microwave mentality and, like many other families in our area, our meals were prepared quickly with not much fuss.

A leisurely trip to the local market wasn’t conducive to our fast-paced household, and I don’t recall ever hearing my parents talk about the benefits of buying local – the trip to the local grocery store was about it. After all, local farmers’ markets lack the frozen aisle filled with easy-to-heat fish sticks, frozen pizzas and those freezer bags of mixed veggies.

This wasn’t the case with my grandparents. Things were a lot slower in their kitchen, where my grandmother was a full-time homemaker.

St. Lawrence Market Toronto

This is a sweeping generalization about my parent’s generation, but I’ve noticed a common theme with the baby boomers and their lack of emphasis on healthy, local, non-processed foods.

To be fair, today’s super-connected people have an advantage over our parent’s generation who didn’t have access to the Internet, smartphones and were limited to traditional forms of media that might have catered to big business – an industry that doesn’t exactly make a huge profit from when you buy from local farmers and the neighborhood butcher. It’s not that we have more time to slave over a hot oven, it’s just harder to eat frozen TV dinners when you’ve read hundreds of blog posts about the amount of sodium and toxins they contain. It’s just not very “cool” either.

St.Lawrence Market Toronto

Information Age

This does sound strange, however my fellow tech-savvy X & Y generation seems to be getting back to basics, which is not what you’d expect from the digital crowd, right? For us, our back-to-nature feelings about food can be contributed to many factors; information on the “C” word is readily available, heavy influence through social media, and mobile applications that cleverly discover healthy local eateries, markets and demystify ingredients through barcode scanners. It’s quite frankly, at times, ‘information overload’.

Social Media & the “Cool” Factor

Foodies, a term to describe food enthusiasts, has become a super trendy word with the proliferation of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It’s also all-the-rave, and a somewhat narcissistic trend, to take snapshots of your latest meals as we’d mentioned last week. Do we make better food choices when we share our dishes with others online?

Our generation has decided natural food is cool. And, slowing down and taking time preparing your meals with wholesome, natural ingredients is even cooler. Shopping at hot spots like the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto is a chic way to spend your Saturday afternoon, and it feels good to support local farmers and merchants in your own community – it’s also fresher, better for you, and “cool” to share. Sure it’s cool to talk about chocolate-covered bacon online, but that’s another topic entirely.

local produce

Media

Another reason for the shift in thought is video content. Anyone with a Netflix account can tell you there have been a slew of documentaries popping up in the last 10 years about food, or more importantly where your food comes from. One viewing of Food Inc. will have you raiding your cupboards then heading straight to the nearest organic shop. And after watching any one of these life-changing docs, we quickly share the media with our networks hoping to indoctrinate 10 more of our Facebook friends.

Getting Healthy with Mobile Apps

Whether you’re looking for a spot to dine out, or you’re curious about the 15-letter ingredient listed on that box of processed chicken, there’s an app for that.

Nosh, a foodie app with a social twist enables users to review images and comments about a restaurant prior to dining. Android | iPhone

Don’t Eat That holds a database of complicated ingredients that you can’t pronounce. By simply typing in the first few letters it will uncover the truth behind “Sulphur Dioxide” and “Sulfites” .

Want to find and learn more about local farmers ? Try downloading Locavore.
In Canada (Ontario and BC) and the U.S., Android and iPhone users can download an app called Locavore, which uses your phone’s GPS location to find local farms and farmers’ markets closest to you. It will also tell you what foods are in-season, and it cleverly connects with your Facebook network.

Available to residents in the U.S., localharvest.org, can help you discover farmers markets, restaurants, and places were you’ll find locally grown food. Using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, try out Farmers Market Finder (U.S only) for healthy and locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and more.

Get Healthy Online by Learning More

Slow Food, a global grassroots association that aims to unite foodies and teach the world about things such as sustainable food production has thousands of members across the globe. This organization is a great resource on a number of subjects including agricultural policies, creating better food systems in your local community, and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

…support local farmers, fishermen, breeders, cheesemakers etc, not only purchasing their products but also tapping into the wealth of information and advice and they can offer us. In this way we can learn more about quality and increase our understanding of what a healthier, tastier and more responsible diet means in our region. Direct contact between consumers and producers is one of the best ways for this to be able to happen, through farmers’ markets, direct farm sales and Community Supported Agriculture schemes. – Slow Food

The Bottom Line

In 2012, it’s too hard to turn a blind eye. Our generation, and past generations with access to technology have a responsibility to utilize the amazing resources available to change our lifestyles to better future generations. What are your thoughts, how do you use technology to improve your lifestyle?

Check out our article on Android & iPhone apps to help you lose weight.

7 Responses to Is Technology Making Us Healthier?

  1. sixtiesgirl says:

    I am a baby boomer and I (and my husband) worked full time and I have two children. I cooked meals for them every night including vegetables from the local farmer’s market whenever possible. I am sure that I am not the only one.

    • Brodie says:

      That’s great to hear! With the amount of data we have at our fingertips, it’s hard not improve our eating habits in this age of information. Over the last few months, after watching a handful of documentaries, I’m seriously thinking organic!

  2. Running Mom says:

    Living in the Garden State has allowed my hubby, two sons and I to enjoy fruits and vegetables from local farmers, fish and crab from local fisherman. I grow a garden each year and our sons get excited each summer when they get to pick fresh cucumbers, green peppers and jalapenos from the vine. We even grew Yukon gold potatoes last summer! There are so many processed foods in the freezer section but we avoid those items as they contain ingredients I can’t even pronounce. I would rather cook healthy meals for my family and my oldest son acts as my “sous chef” in the kitchen. He watches the food network channel and always wants to try new recipes. It creates for great quality time in the kitchen and my boys are learning life skills and responsible eating for their own futures. I’ll take a fresh market every day of the week!

  3. Brodie says:

    I’m right with you! Good food is a basic right, and I’m thrilled to hear you’ve involved the kids. I truly look forward to full day at the St. Lawrence market on Saturdays.

  4. Debbie says:

    yes, it is important to feed children healthy snacks when they are little and don’t care. That way they will grow up to like healthy snacks.

  5. Goober Fan says:

    Where’s the learn and earn banner?

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