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The most useful, user-friendly apps against food waste

Innovation / -

Alcune applicazioni anti-spreco permettono di condividere gli avanzi con una sorta di frigorifero 'virtuale'.

There are increasing numbers of apps and online platforms which allow you to share your leftovers or pick up discounted products close to their sell-by date. Here is the pick of the bunch.

Technology can provide good weapons in the battle against food waste. To be able to let people know in real time (preferably via your personal Smartphone) when excess food is available has actually made collection procedures more widespread.
Here are some of the main online platforms (a knock-on effect from Expo Milano 2015):

Last Minute Sotto Casa
It began in Turin, nurtured by the Politecnico University, but it intends to spread throughout Italy, hopefully with the help of a few investors. It is aimed at local shops which can offer unsold food at a reduced price at the end of the day. “Not only is this a chance to combat waste, this app wants to be a “digital megaphone”: the shopkeepers see new customers coming through the door - explains Francesco Ardito, creator of LMSC - , with an advertising mechanism which closely resembles that of the digital coupons.” The service is up and running in various cities with 25,000 people registered and 530 member shops. It offers a way to support traditional shops, where life is becomingly increasingly difficult.

Breading App
An online app to redistribute leftover bread at the baker’s and in shops. The app allows bakers to send a text or an online message with the amount they have left over at the end of the day.
Thanks to geolocation, an alert is sent to the nearest voluntary associations (those registered with the service) for them to arrange collection at the shop. A system of QR codes allows a single booking.

The system - created by four young men from Milan - follows the shelf life of the products and makes them available at a discounted price when they are near their expiry date. Users can access via the web or on the platform app. All the food products at risk of going to waste in a given area of interest are displayed and users can purchase them at a reduced price with just a few clicks.

The idea for this Italian app to share food from one’s own fridge came from four boys from Treviso, winners of the HACKathon101 award. Ratatouille uses geolocation to display a map of the nearest fridges. It can give the expiry date for each food shared, and the times and days to go and collect it. What sets this app apart is that it is also in contact with youth hostels and student lodgings, where they are accustomed to sharing leftover food.

Bring the Food
This extremely simple app was developed by researchers at the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, together with the Fondazione Banco Alimentare [Food Bank Foundation]. The experiment began in 2012, in the Autonomous Province of Trento, in collaboration with the Food Bank of Trentino Alto Adige Onlus. It then moved to the City of Milan in collaboration with the Food Bank Association of Lombardy, “Danilo Fossati” Onlus.  The Food Bank is given the role of “watchdog”: it can check credit, monitor requests and authorize the collection and redistribution of food detected in the network.

S-Cambia Cibo
Created by a start-up enterprise of young entrepreneurs, but supported by Coop Adriatica, this site allows ordinary citizens to put products approaching their expiry date on the network to share them with other users. “S-Cambia Cibo” not only produces economic and environmental benefits, it also sets out to encourage and strengthen neighborhood and community bonds. To take part, just register with the site and put the food you want to offer online, preferably with a photo. At the other end, the other community users can request information about the product and contact the owner to pick it up free of charge.

How Can Bitcoin Help Emancipate Billions And Help Food Security

Innovation / -

Bitcoin sicurezza alimentare articolo

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones that are available to anybody, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing, to participate in global commerce, maximizing their mutual advantage, and heightening incentives to achieve local and global food security.
The fundamental invention of the blockchain
Until little more than five years ago it was not at all sure that a given mathematical problem had a solution: how could you deliver a consistent and reliable piece of information across a network whose nodes are unreliable? Called the Bizantine Generals Problem — based on the supposed presence of traitors at a hypothetical battle whose plans must be communicated to all the attackers — it was a real surprise when a clever solution was put together by a pseudonymous developer who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. The solution was based on computers participating in a network and solving hard cryptographic problems that were easy to verify, and creating a public decentralized database, that could be consulted by anybody. 
The first application of this innovation is Bitcoin, the digital currency that is gaining popularity in various types of payment and financial applications. However there are many other classes of problems that can now be implemented differently than before. The consequence of the Blockchain is that a group of participants can reach a consensus and an agreement without delegating this to a central authority, but achieving it as a result of the working of the network itself. Identity, property, legal and notary functions, financial activities like lending, insurance, international remittance and more are now possible in a very novel manner, that promises to be more flexible and efficient, much less expensive than previously. Most importantly, all these services are going to be accessible to anybody who has a smartphone connected to the Internet, without any license or authorization.
Inclusivity and emancipation of billions
There are billions of people in the planet who still live in agricultural societies, and not only do not have access to modern financial services, but they have also no possibility of ever accessing them, due to the increasingly hard to satisfy regulatory environment in which they are provided.
The traditional services of the state of providing identity, property, legal and other forms of organization are very often absent, or poorly organized, and when present, inefficient, corrupted, and skewed to advantage the powerful at the expense of the poor and exploitable.Implementing the financial and state services on the Blockchain promises to make them affordable, accessible, streamlined, transparent and more capable of resisting corruption and inefficiencies.
Distributed blockchain enabled food production and trade
In many societies the local farmers know very well what would be needed to make their lives easier, their products more marketable, and the outlook of their families and children brighter. Giving access through Internet connected smartphones to the development of financial and legal tools and support enables those who were previously excluded to participate on equal footing, and to put their own local understanding and wisdom to their advantage, emancipating and empowering them to make the best possible decisions for themselves.
The next generation platforms of micro-loans, lending, crowdfunding and equity investing will extend to orders of magnitude more people than it is possible to do now. The possibility of establishing trust networks whose workings can be verified and followed by anybody is going to extend circles of empathy and participation to include categories that previously were excluded and ignored.
An easier and more direct path to communication will enable a smoother development of commerce, both locally and globally, where a better information symmetry will empower those who would be previously exploited. Food will follow information and knowledge, security will follow trust, prosperity and wealth will follow connectedness complementing self reliance.

Simonetta Agnello Hornby: Food is a friend that tells family stories

Culture / -

Simonetta Agnello Hornby
© Cosima Scavolini Splash News Corbis

At home they referred to eggplants and sweet peppers as much-loved objects, almost as dear friends rather than mere vegetables. Simonetta Agnello Hornby, writer, lawyer and WE-Women for Expo Ambassador, talks to us about how food has helped her stay close to her roots in Sicily, and why even just the fragrance of bay leaves is enough to transport her back there, wherever she might be.

She went from one island to another, keeping the flavors and traditions of Sicily firmly in her heart. Writer and lawyer, Simonetta Agnello Hornby was born in Palermo, yet has lived in England since 1972 where, for eight years, she was part-time president of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. She is Ambassador of WE-Women for Expo and, on February 7, took part in one of the discussion tables at The Expo of Ideas, the first stage for the Charter of Milan. Here, she talks about women’s role in the Charter of Milan and how, through food, she has been able to narrate her family history.
What contribution does WE-Women for Expo bring to the Charter of Milan?
Our contribution is to bring to the table not only women, but also gays and transgender people, on the subject of food and what can be done to avoid waste, so that we can live in a better and healthier way. Women account for 42 percent of the workforce in food production, a huge number. We Italians find this hard to comprehend but, in the third world this is the reality. The woman is always seen as the person who knows less, who is less cultured, and who has less access to all the things needed for creating a world without hunger.
What challenges need to be overcome for you to achieve your goal?
I think the biggest difficulty is to be taken seriously. The mother is loved, but she is always the one who is pushed aside, who always says “Yes”, who loves her children and who suffers. This is what I have seen in my work as a children’s lawyer in England. The woman is strong, but at times her strength becomes her weakness, because she succumbs to her husband, her father, her son, because culturally that’s what she’s been used to doing. It’s no longer the time to say "just keep going”. The moment has come to say "enough is enough", and this is for the good of both men and women.
Both your latest memoir, Il pranzo di Mosè, which has been made into a television series in Italy, and your autobiographical novel Un filo d'olio, reveal your love for the family estate in Mosè, near Agrigento in Sicily. It is where your entire family used to stay each year from June to October, set among the Saracen olive trees, in the countryside, an atmosphere of conviviality, all eating together around the table. Can you tell us about your memories of those times at the table, and of the place in general?
I had a very “old life”, as we say in Sicily. I stayed at home, I studied and spent the summer months at our country house, near Agrigento. It was there that we would all get together, my uncles and aunts, my sister, my paternal grandparents. We would eat whatever the land produced. We would cook together, talk about what we would eat, what we were eating and, a short while later, we would already be deciding what to eat the next day. Our lives revolved around food, food as family history. We would cook with my mother and my Aunt Teresa who recounted stories of their mother, my grandmother, Maria. We spoke about eggplants and sweet peppers as much-loved objects, almost as friends rather than mere vegetables. "This eggplant is sick," we would say when one had some dark spots on its skin.
In Il pranzo di Mosè, there are recipes made with "les beaux restes", or leftovers. What does wasting food mean to you, and how were you raised in this respect?
In our house we wasted nothing, and I mean nothing. Not being peasants, but a family of landowners with certain values, we fully embraced the culture of the countryside, where anything could prove useful and nothing gets thrown away. There were never any leftovers at home, they just became that evening’s dinner or lunch the next day. There’s a real art to knowing how to use what’s left over. And it’s an art that’s in my family’s blood. Sometimes we even cook more just to create leftovers, for example cooking extra pasta for lunch so that, in the evening, we can fry the remains and make fried pasta.
In Un filo d’olio you wrote: "For years I wanted to copy down my grandmother Maria’s dessert recipes that she had transcribed into a notebook with numbered pages and an index, just like a real book". Did you rediscover certain foods or ways of cooking that had been forgotten?
Here was a book of recipes, only desserts, from my grandmother Maria. It was really more of an aide-mémoire than a cookbook. From my grandma’s recipes I learned about 'ounces', as this was how measures in some recipes were expressed, not in grams. There were recipes that called for leaf lard, or sugna as it was called, which is no longer really used. I discovered cream of tartar, a type of baking powder that we used religiously, and how to create the colors for pasta reale from spinach.
In the same book you wrote, "Just the fragrance of bay leaves and the rich aroma of lemon zest immediately transports me back to Mosè, wherever I might be". What do those bay leaves mean to you?
Warm water with bay leaves is the best drink I know. Not for the taste, but because of the way it elicits so many memories. When my mother was sick, she sat down and drank this bay leaf infusion. The water was boiled with a couple of bay leaves and a little lemon peel, it was then poured into a teapot and always drunk from a good china teacup, because the water and bay leaf, as my mother would say, "deserve this, because they make us better". We took it for stomach aches, for colds, when someone was sad, and when there was nothing else to take, because it was basically good for everything.
When I went to America at the age of 19, the first time that I spent a year away from home, I thought "What can I bring with me from Sicily?" And the answer was clear: some bay leaves. Because bay leaves are light, keep for a long time, and a little water you can find wherever you go, and, with a little luck, also some lemon. My children also take water with bay leaves. My grandchildren, who don’t speak Italian but eat Sicilian, say to me, "Grandma can you make me some warm water with bay leaves?" And they drink it from coffee cups as a delicacy.

You’ve lived in London for many years, before which you lived in both the United States and Zambia.  Has anything changed in the way you cook, eat and entertain?
I’ve lived abroad for almost 50 years, and I cook Sicilian because I don’t know how to cook in any other way. But I have, in my cooking, introduced a number of things that my friends have taught me, such as using ingredients from Indian cuisine. I don’t know how to cook English food, apart from a few desserts, because English desserts are really good, but I'm a lazy cook, so I usually go back to what I know best.
I entertain as a Sicilian, although I do know how to entertain as the English do, which is totally different. For example, the cutlery is laid in a different way, dishes are presented differently, they eat the sweet before the cheese course, as they do in Russia. What I've learned from living abroad, not from the English, but from life in general, especially from Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the father of gastronomy, is that the guest must be respected in every way. Brillat-Savarin says, for example, that those who make guests wait until the last one has arrived is not worthy of having guests at his house. For me, if a guest arrives late, I go ahead and serve the meal at the appointed time and, when they arrive, I seat them at the table, but we don’t go back and start from the beginning, they have to take whatever is there.
In an interview with Exponet, Shirin Ebadi said that the defense of civil rights improves education and this can lead to an improvement in diet and lifestyle. Do you agree?
Education not only improves the way you eat, it improves the way you see things. Education means knowing things so we are able to relate to the world in a better way. With food, where we are told so many wrong things, or we think they are right only to find out they are wrong, education is critical. We all need educating because we now live in a world where we have lost the concept of seasonality. I recall with horror that I used to give my children fresh orange juice every day, while I, as a child, drank it only for two months of the year, because after that the oranges were gone. A dentist told me that there is a real problem in Britain, because orange juice erodes tooth enamel if you do not not rinse your mouth afterwards with water. Often the wealth that we have leads us to a frightening level of ignorance.

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