It has become common occurrence for us shoppers to buy food without really knowing the origin of what we are buying and eating. Some are okay with trusting the foods provided by our local grocery stores, but many, including us, desire the peace of mind that the stuff we put in our mouth are made and processed in a safe and suitable environment. This desire manifested into our motivation for creating Food Story.
What it does
The purpose of Food Story is simple: greater transparency to the everyday grocery shopper. Currently, it is not very obvious where the food that we put in our bodies has been. Sometimes food-borne disease outbreaks surface in different areas around the world. For example, in 2019, an E. coli outbreak in 19 states in the U.S. was linked to Romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California. Moreover, reports sometimes surface of malpractices involving agriculture and livestock companies, practices that consumers desire the choice to combat by boycotting specific companies and locations based on local laws and regulations. However, consumers don't really have the ability to make such informed decisions regarding the produce that they purchase. Food Story is meant to alleviate this issue.
Food Story is a multifaceted application, meant for adoption by produce makers (farmers and livestock workers), food processors, and the consumers that end up purchasing and consuming these foods. First farmers can register there goods by applying a Food Story-issued QR code to the packaging/goods (in the form of a sticker). Food Story will automatically register the current location of the item. From there, different food processors can simply scan the QR code which will automatically append the current location of the food to the item's location history. Finally, the user can scan this same QR code using Food Story to view a detailed history of where there food has been.
How we built it
Food Story was built using a variety of technologies in order to permit a persistent and multifunctional application.
- In the backend, we utilized a relational database (CockroachDB) running on Google Cloud Platform in order to allow for an easily scalable and widely available application. A python flask application was used to process database operation requests from the frontend and make SQL queries to the database.
- Radar.io was used to automatically interpret the produce's current location when scanned by a food generation or processing plant.
Challenges we ran into
Throughout the process, we encountered many challenges that ultimately turned into valuable learning moments for our group. Firstly, none of us had any experience using a relational database. Thus, implementing a widely available database using CockroachDB proved to be a great challenge that we eventually triumphed. We also encountered many challenges in implementing the Radar feature due to our lack of proper certificates to make a location-based request. We were able to overcome this challenge by using glitch, however, a more sustainable and production-ready (yet more time consuming) solution would have been to host our application on Google Cloud.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As a group, we are most proud of our ability to overcome various challenges that we faced as a team in order to create a fully functioning product that to us, has real potential to improve the way we consume food.
What we learned
In addition to the various services and unique situations that we encountered throughout the hackathon such as CockroachDB and Radar.io, we learned the invaluable skill of teamwork by maximizing our individual strengths to create something exciting given a very strict time constraint.
What's next for Food Story
Boilermake is a good start for Food Story; however, there is still much to be done in order for Food Story to become the transformative and seamless experience we hope for it to be. Some of these improvements are listed below.
- Convert Food Story into a smartphone app which will provide easier use for end users.
- Port the rest of the application to Google Cloud to ensure a reliable experience and a scalable application to accommodate for all use cases.
- Provide more detailed information regarding the history of the food. For example, the type of processing (washing, chopping, pasteurizing, fermenting, etc.) or time stamps could also be provided to give users a better idea of what is happening to their food.
- Overall improvements regarding the frontend user interface including uploading to our domain: theJourneyOfFood.online