If staring at the Nutrition Facts on food packaging has ever made you feel less like you were trying to maintain a healthy diet and more like you were conducting data analysis, the people at Sage Project probably know how you feel. One of the latest web-based apps in the food technology game not only wants to make food data more transparent, it also wants it to be simultaneously simpler and deeper, all while providing customization and, somehow, being fun.
It’s a tall order, but much of what the company attempts to do is simply be more intuitive about the information people want and how they digest it. For instance, according to a recent profile on the New York Times’s Well blog, on the fun side, data may be present by a jumping-rope chocolate bar, but that info is also practical – describing calories in terms of how much jumping rope it would take to burn them off. The site also provides info you may not find on packaging at all such as where food items are sourced from or what a confusing-sounding ingredient is actually there for, all while noting specific health benefits and even tailoring information to your dietary needs.
Whole Foods liked the cut of Sage Project’s jib well enough that the grocer is one of the major brands that has teamed up with the startup, even guaranteeing that all 7,000-ish products being sold in the company’s hot new “365” stores are included on the site. “Customers want a better understanding of how a product is sourced, the quality standards behind it, whether the labor that made it was paid a fair wage, its impact on the environment,” Whole Foods chief information officer Jason Buechel told the NYT. “This is a way to give them all that information that isn’t captured on the nutrition label.”
Of course, all of these types of apps have one issue in common: They’re only valuable if people actually use them.