The Link to Good Food
“If you didn’t already know how to prepare green beans in a way that your family would consume and enjoy them, would you purchase green beans?” asks Roy Ballard, Hancock County’s Purdue Extension educator. “What about kale? What about kohlrabi?”
Questions like these led Ballard to begin work on FoodLink, a web-based database that connects busy consumers with food nutrition content, basic preparation and cooking tips, and food storage information via QR codes. The online tool was officially launched in 2016.
Through the FoodLink program, QR codes for certain foods are placed on signage near the points of purchase in stores and at markets. If a customer is pondering whether to buy sweet corn and has a smartphone with a code reader, that customer can quickly scan the code to find out nutritional information about the product, as well as how to boil, steam, microwave and grill it. Videos, recipes and storage tips about corn fill out the database entry, as well as quick facts. (“The average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows,” for instance.) Consumers who don’t have a code reader can access the information by visiting the website.
The goal of FoodLink, Ballard says, is to take away barriers and make good food decisions easy. The database currently contains product information on more than 50 commonly grown “specialty crops,” like fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey. Farmers markets, retail grocers, farmers and wholesalers who wish to participate in the FoodLink program can enroll to receive promotional materials to display throughout their markets and stores.
“The goal of FoodLink is to be one more tool to increase awareness, generate discussion, and to foster good food decision-making,” Ballard wrote in a press release.
Ballard is currently working with other Purdue Extension educators to further develop the program. Efforts for 2017 include increasing the number of foods represented in the database, developing a “collector” recipe card series, and hosting cooking demonstrations throughout Indiana.
To use the database or to enroll to receive free program materials, visit the FoodLink website.