USDA Releases a Free App to Help You Track Your Food Waste

It’s rare to see something so stylish, easy-to-use and on point released by a government organization.

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Photo courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

The issue of food waste is in the news thanks to recent efforts by chefs such as Dan Barber and environmental groups. However help is needed to translate high-end experiments into actionable take-aways for consumers.

This week, we feature an app aiming to do just that: Developed by the USDA, the FoodKeeper app helps consumers keep track of their purchases, reduce needless wastage and educate about food safety. The release of this app suggests a turning point in public digital outreach as well as environmental awareness, both areas we hope will continue to grow.

Curious about other free apps with the potential to change the way you eat? Check out our recent guide.

USDA FoodKeeper

  • Released by: United States Department of Agriculture
  • Available on: Android (Google Play) & iOS 7.0+ (iPhone, Tablet, iPod Touch)
  • App rating: 4/5
  • Tags: Food Waste, Food Safety, Consumer Education
  • Description: This app was developed as part of a joint effort between the USDA and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. The project aims to reduce, recover and recycle food-related waste from farms to fridges across the nation. The app, originally a publication by the USDA, equips consumers with food safety information and storage instructions for produce stored in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer.
  • Covers: USA
  • What we like: In-built functionality to review storage instructions for over 400 food and beverage items; keep track of “best by” dates for produce using your device’s native calendar for less scrolling and clicking; and get advice from “Ask Karen,” the app’s 24/7 virtual representative. The app also has a sleek visual design.
  • What could improve: With so much screen real estate going spare, particularly on tablets, the app has room to include extra functionality such as maps locating the nearest food recycling facilities and beyond. Additionally, we’d like to see in-built language support for non-English speakers.
  • Other notes: A great app and valuable tool. It’s rare to see something so stylish, easy-to-use and on point released by a government organization. This is a simple way to draw awareness to the problem of food waste, an issue of particular importance in high density urban areas such as New York. Less food waste could go a long way to supporting the environment, reducing food poverty and teaching consumers how to enjoy food in creative new ways.
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Ruth Temianka is a writer, editor and entrepreneur.