The chest freezer is stacked to the top with home-grown and locally grown green beans, sweet corn, okra, pumpkin, apples, choke cherries and sand hill plums. The pantry shelves are crowded with sparkling jars of Sicilian tomato sauce, red enchilada sauce, caponata, dill pickles and jelly.
I’m still a long way from my dream of putting up enough produce by November to last till the next growing season. I have two reactions to this: First, celebrate. Because, as Sheryl Crow noted, it’s not getting what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got. I’m very happy with what I’ve got.
Second, load up. The phone, that is.
I have spent time test-driving about two dozen free apps designed to make it easier to make smart, healthy choices at the grocery store. Some of them I dropped right away because they required turning on what my phone calls “location services” (I call it “NSA tracking”). Other apps looked interesting but cost a couple of dollars.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Here are the five that made the cut and are still on my phone:
Dirty Dozen. This list compiled by Environmental Working Group ranks 48 fruits and vegetables by the number and concentration of pesticides found in them. The Dirty Dozen list identifies foods where buying organic should be a priority. The app also offers a Clean Fifteen list of the foods that are probably safe to buy even if they weren’t grown organically.
GoodGuide. The scanner function on this app was fun until I got tired of the “we haven’t tested that product yet” messages. Searching for the specific item I was interested in, say “apple juice,” and comparing the brands that had been rated based on a set of health, environmental and social issues proved more fruitful.
Love Food Hate Waste. This app can be as involved or as simple as you want. I use it mainly for the “portions” section, which tells you how much to buy for the number of people in your household. When buying chickpeas in bulk, for example, six heaping tablespoons is enough for two people. Good to know. There are also recipes designed to use leftovers, such as Use Up Soup. And one day I will get around to using the My Kitchen area, where you can track items in the pantry, fridge and freezer and use that information to generate recipes based on the food you have on hand and to alert you when “use by” dates are approaching.
Non-GMO Project. Like Dirty Dozen, this app is a fairly straightforward list of foods, searchable by category or brand name, that are verified to be free of genetically modified organisms.
Seafood Watch. The detailed information on this in-depth app often gives answers that make you sorry you asked the question. It turns out the choices for responsibly harvested, safe fish are alarmingly limited. The search function is easy to use and a separate database for sushi is included. A must-have app for seafood lovers who care about sustainability.
The best answer is always to get your food from local farmers and growers and to learn about their farming practices. But in cold weather, it’s nice to have resources that give you quick answers when you are looking for fresh, healthy options at the supermarket.