By Cameron Preston, Co-Founder of Eatfindr
NetSquared, an initiative which aids individuals and communities in using web-based tools, recently hosted their first ever "Social Good Contest" for apps developed for Windows 8. Sponsored by Microsoft, the contest "encourages developers to make a difference in the world through the power of technology."
The contest, judged by a panel of non-profit and humanitarian leaders, was announced today. The Windows 8 Desktop app winner, the category with the most contestants, is Startup Weekend alumni Eatfindr.
Eatfindr was the logical outcome from my experiences living with a partner who has celiac disease. The day to day challenges of dealing with eating options especially dining out was a wakeup call. I got really intrigued by the idea of using tech to help people find accurate and helpful reviews with criteria specific to food sensitivities. It was for this reason that the idea was originally pitched at a Startup Weekend.
Some restaurants are nailing it, some are faking it, and some just don't even bother. Restaurants that nail it should be succeeding and raising the standards, the restaurants that don't claim to be gluten free don't bother me, but the restaurants faking it really get under my skin for serious safety reasons. Letting others know about those fakers is empowering and freeing.
There has been a growing trend towards eating more responsibly when it comes to eating humanely-raised meat, organic, raw, paleo, and being serious about food allergies. But winning this Social Good contest is a reminder that the trend isn't a trend at all. It's the refocusing of a core part of our well-being. People are awakening to the idea that food should be grown and shared in a way that can be trusted, respected, and sustained.
Technology has been, and will continue to be, a driving force in the way we improve our food system. One of the simplest ways is to crowdsource information of businesses, co-ops, and farms that are already making a positive impact. When financial benefits align with environmental and social improvements, everyone wins.
Doing food right is actually a pretty simple equation: organic + humanely-raised + allergen-awareness + sourcing locally = fabulous! Oh, and add knowledgeable staff, good variety, and allergens marked on the menu and we're talking business. Eatfindr makes all this information readily available to everyone. When restaurants do it right they should be represented -- not just the business owners who can afford the highest search listings.
The issues of the food world are incredibly inter-connected, with pesticides being linked with allergens, green house gases tied with industrial agriculture, and food shortages tied with global warming. It may seem like Eatfindr is biting off a lot with the variety of categories, but if we're to do this right, there's only one way.
Winning $15K in the contest is a major milestone in Eatfindr's ability to expand its development into web and iOS platforms. The more people we're able to reach, the more we can support the people and businesses that are doing things well. Supporting the food system, supporting those with food allergens, and helping communities prosper with local food is the social good we love spending our time on.
The Eatfindr Team: Cameron Preston, Ludo Antonov, Hayder Casey