Maybe you do it for social justice, or environmental sustainability, a food allergy, or some other reason. For those of us who endeavor to eat conscientiously and in line with certain values—whatever the rationale—staying on the wagon, and knowing what we’re eating is what we’re told it is, can be difficult.
Can we be sure that this scone contains absolutely zero gluten? That this “spring water” is free of contaminants? That the fish in the fridge hasn’t spoiled?
In a word, no—not 100 percent. But thanks to technology, we’re getting considerably closer to near-complete assurance that our food is as safe and clean as advertised. Here are five gadgets invented to give those of us who “eat our values” a bit more peace of mind, whether we’re at home, out at a restaurant, in the supermarket, or at the farmer’s market. (Spoiler: you’ve probably got one of these in your pocket right now.)
What it does: Detects gluten—even traces!—in foods
Forbes reported last week on a portable technology invented to test food for gluten—down to 20 parts per million (parts per million is the most common unit of measuring gluten, a protein, in foods). The scanner is called NIMA, and it was developed by a crack team from some of the country’s top schools and organizations to find even the smallest trace of gluten. The device costs $199, is getting a companion iPhone app, and will ship out to its first customers by the end of this year.
What it does: Detects harmful chemicals present in food, water, and even pot
Could a device help us eat, drink, and even smoke cleaner? Tech startup CDx thinks so. The company already has devices on the market that allow users to test for contamination in marijuana and most recently water, but its soon-to-be-released, consumer-level substance analyzer—called MyDx2—will help consumers detect the harmful chemicals present in food, water, and yes, pot.
What it does: Helps you determine whether foods are on the verge of spoiling
Ever been rooting through the back of the fridge and wondered, “Is this still good?” Wonder no more: FOODsniffer is here. FOODsniffer is a sensor that literally "sniffs" if your food is on the verge of spoiling. It couldn’t be easier: point a sensor toward a food product, like raw meat or fish, and the FOODsniffer companion app will perform a quick bio-organic test and give you an instant diagnosis: either “fresh,” “cook well,” or “spoiled.”
What it does: Measures the sugar, calorie, and alcohol content of foods and drinks
SCiO is a USB sensor that instantly reads sugar, calorie, and alcohol content in foods and drinks. The technology behind the spectrometer has been used for years to test oil, chemicals, or sewage, but the Israeli-made SCiO is the first consumer-grade sensor that can give us the “molecular fingerprint” of the food we’re about to eat.
What it does: Provides an instant answer pretty much any question you have about food or nutrition
That’s right, you’ve (most likely) got a pretty powerful tool for eating clean and safely right on your person. There are dozens—if not hundreds—of applications you can download to keep your diet on track. (In fact, Thrive Market’s was named one of Greatist’s best nutrition apps of 2016!) But beyond apps, a simple Google search can help determine how many calories a dish at your favorite restaurant has, whether a product is likely to contain an allergen or toxin, or which produce you should always buy organic.
What devices, apps, or tricks do you use to help make decisions around food and nutrition? Share in the comments.