Fooducate is an easy-to-use, free smartphone app that helps you make healthier food choices. To use it, scan a packaged item’s bar code or search for food items and you’ll see its letter grade (A to D) with an explanation of its nutritional benefits, or lack thereof. When I recently introduced this app to a table of women they couldn’t believe their favorite so-called “healthy” snack foods scored so low (they received a C- or D+). They now use it to help them make more healthful food choices. I had the opportunity to speak to Fooducate creator, Hemi Weingarten, to learn more about it.
Q: Fooducate is a fantastic app that’s easy to use at the market or at home. How did you come up with the idea?
A few years ago, when my children were still babies, we bought a glow-in-the-dark yogurt in the supermarket. I was curious as to the source of the bright pink color and read an ingredient list for the first time in my life. I was shocked to discover Red #40, a synthetic dye, with potential links to hyperactivity and cancer is being used in kiddie yogurt. In Europe it is banned and beet juice is used instead.
I started researching the modern food industry and discovered many other ingredients or processes for food manufacturing that seemed to make good business sense for companies, but were not in my family’s best interest. Fooducate started out as a blog to help myself and other parents be more cognizant of the food we buy for our families. When smartphones started to become popular, I put together a team and we built the mobile scanning app.