Thursday, January 16, 2014

Food Hacking...Food Hack San Leandro?

It's a new year, and the ideas and opportunities never looked better. Just attended a dinner and chat with Tim West, the founder of a new way of looking at the intersection of technology and food. There were a lot of folks from all over the Bay Area who are looking at food, food ways and nutrition is new light. Many subjects were touched upon, focusing primarily on Tim's interest in how food is produced, what the coming issues surrounding food are, and how food and technology interface and various points in the process of feeding ourselves.

One of the focuses of the talk, was to discuss how technology can impact how we produce and consume food, and how our society, a technology heavy society can leverage that technology to create better food, safer and healthier food and more available food for a population that is heading to some serious resource limitations. Food Hackathon and Cosemble have already thrown two events that took a look at how we can use technology to create healthier recipes, using healthier ingredients without having to create and store that knowledge on our own. Mobile computing apps that search out recipes, or identify ingredients, so that healthier diets can be explored.

Another concept that was discussed was how to create a desire to eat healthier, at what point can technology, or people, hack their own culture to achieve greater health. This was round tabled, with the real idea coming out of the discussion, that the change has to happen at a local level, reaching out to people at a time when they are just beginning to consider what they are eating, and how it might be better. One of the participants in this part of the discussion was Kristin Zelhart, who works with a non-profit called Wellness City Challenge, that is focused on teaching students at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, CA. how to be healthier and how to make better choices about the food they eat. In our discussion, which we pursued after the main discussion, she mentioned how much it became apparent that many students have no concept of what they are eating, or how a healthy diet would affect them. This actually tied back in to Tim West and his discussion about time spent analyzing the dining options at Facebook, where he found that many people ate very poorly, and with terrific food, that was delicious, but, nutritionally poor, many of the employees actually became sicker. This is a pattern being discussed at many technology companies, the increase in obesity, loss of productivity and overall less healthy work force.

For me, a good discussion often raises more questions than it answers. This was one of those nights, I walked away, thinking, what are we doing to make our community healthier? How are we using the technology at our use, to create better food access and knowledge in our community? Are there other people thinking about this, and how, or would they interface with San Leandro? How can we reach out to the many young people, and how can we address the increasing obesity in our schools?

One of my main interests in the Innovation Ecosystem, is that I would love to see San Leandro have more, and better, food options. I think there are some answers that we can implement very quickly in this City.

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