In the past decade we’ve seen somewhat of a resurgence in what one might term as our “food consciousness”. Authors such as Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain have both stimulated our sensitivities to where our food comes from while at the same time promoting food to an “en vogue” cultural element. It’s not just about human health, it’s not just about the natural environment, and it’s not just about the flavor and the flair… it’s about the convergence of natural sciences, social sciences, and culinary arts. In the past, a few slabs of bacon might have been a perfectly stylish breakfast accoutrement, but now we demand something flashier like Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon. At the same time, we want to know if the bacon was derived from organically fed pigs which were raised under humane conditions; if the squash was a heritage breed; and if the apples were grown locally.
it’s about the convergence of natural sciences, social sciences, and culinary arts.
Real Time Farms (a crowd-sourced food guide launched in 2010) seeks to provide answers to all of these questions. Co-Founder Cara Rosaen offers an excellent explanation of how the site works and why food transparency is important in her TEDx Manhattan presentation. No matter how inane and ridiculous our individual food preferences might be, Real Time Farms offers a collaborative solution that allows users to make informed decisions while sharing information on their own experiences. The site features an easy-to-use interface much akin to our beloved Google maps. It took me under 3 minutes to register and add my own neighborhood farmers market (The Oakley Farmers Market). Now that I’ve added the market, others in my neighborhood can add their own photos and share their own experiences. Eventually as more and more of the crowd jumps in, a portrait of our local food webs can begin to emerge.
[Video Credit: TEDx Manhattan - Cara Rosaen - Why Food Transparency Matters and How RealTimeFarms.com Can Help]
As our food consciousness continues to become more developed and more scientifically and socially attuned, we’re going to need tools such as Real Time Farms to put our money where our mouths are (or more accurately our mouths where are mouths are). Although Real Time Farms is not new to the food information scene, but we are seeing an resurgence is locally focused food venues making the site more pertinent than ever. It’s also timely because tools such as Real Time Farms are key in allowing urban agriculture to expand in 2013.