Big Food Data: A Massive Crowdsourced Database of Labels

Nutrition and big data are two trendy topics we're bound to hear more and more about as 2013 unfolds. And Food Essentials, a Missouri-based company building a food label database, is tackling the intersection of the two.
Food Essentials is scanning and collecting the muddled wealth of information on the labels on food products—that means fat and sugar content, number of calories, and also ingredients, allergens and vitamins. They're doing this by crowdsourcing photographs of hundreds of labels in grocery stores around the country.
The result is a database of information larger than any currently existing, organized into an API (application programming interface) that can be accessed by developers and used to build mobile apps that help empower consumers to make healthy—or at the least, informed—choices about their food products.
Food Essentials also helps organize and categorize the information, assigning labels like “low sodium” to products relative to the type of food. In other words, a certain brand of cashew may be low in sodium compared to the other packaged nuts in its category, but would not be considered a low sodium food when compared to frozen vegetables.
According to the CEO, Anton Xavier, “Our mission is to make vast amounts of food label data accessible to brands, developers as well as government entities, while keeping it simple to analyze.”
Have at it developers. I’d use an app for that.

This month, we're challenging the GOOD community to host a dinner party and cook a meal that contains fewer ingredients than the number of people on the guest list. Throughout March, we'll share ideas and resources for being more conscious about our food and food systems. Join the conversation at and on Twitter at #chewonit.


A two-minute television ad from New Zealand is a gut punch to dog lovers who smoke cigarettes. "Quit for Your Pets" focuses on how second-hand smoke doesn't just affect other humans, but our pets as well.

According to Quitline New Zealand, "when you smoke around your pets, they're twice as likely to get cancer."

Keep Reading
via Bossip / Twitter

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders took aim at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg onstage at Wednesday's Las Vegas Democratic debate, likening the billionaire businessman to President Donald Trump and questioning his ability to turn out voters.

Sanders began by calling out Bloomberg for his stewardship of New York's stop and frisk policy that targeted young black men.

Keep Reading
via United for Respect / Twitter

Walmart workers issued a "wake up call" to Alice Walton, an heir to the retailer's $500 billion fortune, in New York on Tuesday by marching to Walton's penthouse and demanding her company pay its 1.5 million workers a living wage and give them reliable, stable work schedules.

The protest was partially a response to the company's so-called "Great Workplace" restructuring initiative which Walmart began testing last year and plans to roll out in at least 1,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores by the end of 2020.

Keep Reading