What separates a broccoli from a car in the world of everything connected? Pretty much, yet precious little.
Where every piece of the car is defined, standardized and numbered, the poor broccoli is tops measured in weight and according to rough quality guidelines. Maybe you can find out where it was produced, but probably only in the vaguest of terms, like ”Produce of Mexico”.
Regarding what it consists of in terms of vitamins and nourishment you need to consult tables. And then it is still not about this specific broccoli, but a general, statistical average. Nothing is told about this broccoli, nor when it was picked or how it was transported to the outlet.
Now, think of a broccoli gratin. Or rather of:
Broccoli, skim milk, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto color), water, soybean oil, cheddar club cheese (cheddar cheese [cultured milk, salt, enzymes], water, salt, annatto color), bread crumbs (wheat flour, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, salt), 2% or less of bleached enriched wheat flour (niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), modified cornstarch, salt, xanthan gum, annatto color, lactic acid, calcium lactate. milk, wheat ingredients.
The point is, while we might get to know the broccoli, the processed food stuff is inherently more complex.
But where we know the origin of every nut and bolt in a car, food production – often happening in facilities the size and complexity of car plants – is far more opaque. Ingredients are not clear, transportation is not tracked, the production methods vary greatly and we have taught consumers only to worry about price. It is enough to say ”horse meat scandal” for everyone to understand the difference.
Around the car industry, a plethora of detailed standards and specifications have emerged, giving industry professionals innovation tools to work with. And their innovations are in a steadily increasing pace connected, what we usually call Internet of Things. When objects are connected they exist in a dynamic context and innovation takes off even faster.
Around the food industry, there is little connection to tech, hence we lack a major source of innovation.
Internet of Food is a concept equivalent to Internet of Things, though more complex and dynamic and with potentially larger impact on human life. Food is the energy of the human being and an area that we should track more closely and innovate more intensly on.
Yet, the discussion on how we combine the power of the Internet with food is little explored in spite of its massive potential to affect key areas such as food security, transparency, health and food waste through innovation and openness.
Our ambition is to be a home for the discussion regarding this new field and to engage a wide audience in building better solutions for how to feed the planet in a healthy and sustainable way.
The IoF team