20090716-locavoreapp-iphone.jpgBuster Benson of one-man company Enjoymentland launched his iPhone app Locavore 1.0 earlier this year and has already come out with a second version. In his own words, Locavore 1.0 "told you what’s in season, what’s coming into season soon, and where nearby farmers' markets are located,” while 2.0 “does all of that and also lets you be social about it.”

As the app loads, the screen reads, “now rolling up to the market,” which I found pretty cute. The screen then fills with a more or less accurate list of fruits and veggies in season, accompanied by confusing but pretty rainbow-colored pie chart symbols.

Then there's the tab that “lets you be social about it,” where you can read people's Facebook notes about ways they ate local. This is neither as useless nor as sanctimonious as one might fear, and occasionally even presents some good recipe ideas. I’d like to see more user-generated recipes—home cooks tend to be more practical and thrifty than those fenugreek-purchasing, truffle oil-dousing Epicurious folks.

The only real problem is the “browse” function, where users can scroll through a list of crops and click on them for more information that tends to be egregiously inaccurate. For example, apricots, arugula, Asian greens, Asian pears, and artichokes—all crops grown on the Hudson Valley farm where I live—are all said to be unavailable locally. There are also links to Wikipedia and Epicurious, which feels a bit lazy.

Locavore credits nrdc.org for its fruit and vegetable availability info and localharvest.org for its farmers' market data (which is nationwide—a major plus). Both websites are encyclopedic resources, but evidently lacking in the information Locavore seeks to provide.

Why not consult with some real farmers? Perhaps they could generate some original, up-to-date content. Did you know that a rare crop disease—the same blight that caused the Irish potato famine—has just about wiped out the Northeast’s potatoes this season? Or that, ahem, arugula does grow in New York state? Then locavores could be social not only with fellow groupies, but with the rock star producers, as well.

About the author: Hannah Geller lives and works at Fishkill Farms in the Hudson Valley, where she manages a store and café specializing in local products. She covers the New York agriculture beat and writes freelance restaurant reviews for New York magazine. Mark Bittman is her idol.

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Locavore 1.0: Find Local, in Season Food on Your iPhone
FarmFreshNYC: A New iPhone App for Finding Local Food
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