Remember that episode of Portlandia, where the couple drive out to an organic farm to check-out conditions for the chickens?
Well thanks to the folks at a new company called Lapka, organic purists needn't go to such extreme measures to check their poultry's pedigree.
Lapka is developing an iPhone plug-in that it claims can detect phony organic food. (H/T Fastco Design)
Sensors in the device measure humidity, temperature, radiation and, something called, "organicity," which apparently reveals how "organic" a food is. Currently in the prototype stage, the plastic and wood sensors plug into your iPhone's headphone jack. The device pokes a piece of food with a steel probe to check the nitrate concentration, a chemical component commonly used in fertilizers that are non-organic in nature. Lapka expects to release the device in December at a price of $220.
Organic food purists have reason to be worried about the nature of their products. A report in July by The New York Times noted that the demand for organic products is potentially outpacing the supply, putting a strain on companies to stay honest within the growing $30 billion a year industry. Over time ingredients like carrageenan, a seaweed-derived thickener that sports a contentious health record, and synthetic inositol, manufactured using chemical processes, have found their way into the organic market.
It's unclear how well the Lapka would be able to detect some of these questionably organic ingredients.
Though Lapka is the first iPhone sensor targeting organic food, the market for iPhone sensors has attracted companies and developers looking to turn the phone into everything from a heart rate monitor to an environmental sensor. Sensorcon's Sensordrone measures everything from the temperature of your coffee to air quality. Their Kickstarter campaign was a success, raising $170,000 -- much more than their $25,000 fundraising goal.