Want to know whether that box of Post Cranberry Almond Crunch cereal that you're eyeing in the grocery store is really that good for you? Forget reading the side of the box; check your iPhone instead.
The folks over at Fooducate.com have just released a new version of their free mobile app that allows users to scan the bar codes of more than 200,000 food products to find the truth behind the nutrition label. Sure, Post trumpets the fact that its Cranberry Almond Crunch is made with whole grains, but, as the Fooducate app warns, the cereal isn't made with 100 percent whole grains, and it has the equivalent of 3.5 teaspoons of sugar, mostly added.
Not only that, but the app gives each product a letter grade (Post's Cranberry Almond Crunch gets a lackluster C+), and suggests healthier alternatives (try B+ Multi-Grain Cheerios instead). Users can also rate products themselves and post reviews, though we're not sure how many moms with a squirming toddler in the cart want to spend the time wading through dozens of comments about canned soup.
In any case, the app (which is currently only available for Apple products) is a kind of Rosetta stone for all that appears Greek to most of us as we scan the ingredients list of the average processed food product. To wit, who knew that "hydrolyzed collagen" is an additive akin to MSG? Or that you'd find it in a protein bar?
And if you want to find out if that food is fresh, reports Fast Company magazine, check out another new app, this one the Consume Within app, which has already been listed as "New and Noteworthy" in the iTunes App Store. Developed by Unibyte, with the UK's Caparao Innovation Centre and the University of Wolvehampton, Consume Within lets you track freshness dates for foods stored in cupboard, fridge, or freezer, and monitors what you should use by what date. There are two versions, and one, the Lite version, is free and lets you monitor 4 items; the $2.99 version, unlimited items.
Of course, if you don't have the app, you can also use your nose and eyes, but that's so 2010.