Sometimes eating healthy–and responsibly–can be confusing. That organic kids’ cereal must be healthier than it’s generic counterpart, right? “Natural” means I’m getting only the good stuff, yeah? And how about that salmon? It’s wild-caught and that’s best for me and the environment, correct? There are a lot of questions to ask and even more answers, some of which you might even regret hearing. Being a good steward of the planet and watching what go into your body can seem like a full-time job! Luckily, there are some great apps to guide you through the grocery store (and your pantry and refrigerator!)!
Cindy Hoedel at the Kansas City Star published a great piece recently about apps that make healthy, responsible eating easier at the grocery store. After giving about two dozen apps the old college try, Cindy narrowed down her favorites to five–and we think they are great choices! Without further ado, here are the best free apps to help you shop for food!
1. Oh how we love the Dirty Dozen! We’ve been singing the praises of this list, created annually by the Environmental Working Group, for ages. They make it easy to make well-informed decisions about buying organically-grown produce or opting for conventionally-grown produce by laying out information about the number and concentration of pesticides found in 48 different fruits and vegetables. They also have a list of the Clean Fifteen–fifteen fruits and veggies that are relatively safe to eat even if they haven’t been grown organically–and they update these lists every year! In the olden days, you’d have to go to their website for such information, but not anymore. Now, you can get the app for free and have it ready when you shop.
2. Good Guide–it just sounds helpful, doesn’t it? This little app works two ways: You can scan the product you want to buy and find a rating based on health, environmental and social impact; or you can type in a product type, like baby food, and it will compare the ratings between brands that have been tested and rated. You can filter out brands, traits and ingredients or sort things by the three factors rated: health, environment or society. Ms. Hoedel has a tip: She got more results when she searched for something like “apple juice” than she did by scanning specific products because many products hadn’t been tested yet.
3. Love Food Hate Waste–it’s not just a question, it’s an app! This little app gives you info on how much to buy (portion-wise) for a specific number of people, as well as recipes for using leftovers and reminders about “Use By” dates on the food you’ve already purchased. Waste not with this app, folks.
4. If you’re wary of GMOs, get the app for the Non-GMO Project. It’s like the best friend of the Dirty Dozen app; just search by a category or brand name and find out which foods are verified to be GMO free. Like the Dirty Dozen app, it’s easy to use and straightforward.
5. Seafood Watch–How much do you want to know? This app by the Monterey Bay Aquarium is your own personal guide to sustainable seafood, but we’ll warn you: It’s not as easy as you’d think to eat seafood sustainably, and sometimes it makes us sad.
Here are a couple that we also love that Cindy didn’t mention:
Locavore: Helps you find local, in-season produce at farmers markets, food stands and grocery stores.*
Substitutions: This little gem offers alternatives for foods you’re looking to give the cold shoulder to, as well as things to substitute in recipes if you’re missing an ingredient. It’s handy dandy.*
Allergy Guard: Type in your allergy data, and search the ingredients of more than 2,000 common foods! This one could literally be a lifesaver.*
*Note: Not all of these apps are free.