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iPhone BBQ Buddy-Locavore

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A locavore is someone who tries to eat locally grown food. This blog will cover a cool iPhone app that helps you tell which food is in season and help you go out and find it. As I mentioned in my last blog entry (IPHONE BBQ BUDDY-COOKING HOME SCREEN) I recently assembly a small array of apps on my iPhone. Where many folks I know that grill also own iPhones, I figured I might share some of these cooking related apps. This particular app is called Locavore and it is by Buster McLeod. Locavore does several things as represented by 4 icons at the bottom of the main screen: It tells you what is in season locally and for how much longer (In-Season Button), it tells you where to go get those fresh fruits and vegetables (Markets Button), it tells you what areas of the country the produce is in season (Browse Button) and lastly it provides links to recipes using the particular fruit or veggie you are interested in. It also has some social networking application features (I Ate Local) with links to Facebook and personal reviews. This last feature is not at all my cup of tea and I don’t use it, so I won’t be covering it here. This app takes advantage of the Location Services built into the iPhone, so it always knows where you are and presents it’s info based on your current location.

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After the application has determined your location, you can display a list of what is in or out of season (Left). Clicking on a specific item like Peas brings up a screen that tells you the status locally and has a map and listing of where the item is in season currently (Middle). Scrolling down to the bottom of the Fruit or veggie screen gives you links to learn more on Wikipedia & recipes at Epicurious.com (Right).).


 The first feature I mentioned is being able to see what is in season in your locale. Clicking on the In Season button brings up a list of locally grown produce. The list is sorted by what is in season and the amount of time left from shortest to longest. If you click on a specific item there will be description of the local conditions. Below this there is a map showing which states the item is grown in where it is in season. Below the map is a list by state where you can see the details of how long the item is in season for. Once again this State by State list is sorted by the shortest time to longest time. Scrolling to the very bottom of the page for each produce item gives you links to call up recipes for this item on Epicurious.com, as well as a link to view the Wikipedia page describing your fruit or veggie.

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Clicking on the Epicurious link brings you to Epicurious.com where a list of recipes using your fruit or veggie are presented to you in list form. The Wikipedia link brings up the Wikipedia page describing you fruit or veggie.


Using the Browse button at the bottom of the Home Screen allows you to scroll through an alphabetical listing of the produce or an alphabetical list of the 50 states. This helps you when you are at the market and are evaluating which variety of your fruit or veggie to buy. You may be choosing from produce shipped in from several states. You will be able to see in which states that produce is in season, allowing you to buy produce from a state where it is actually in season as opposed to frozen and stored. Now these listing aren’t perfect, they are based on a database from the Natural Resources Defense Council containing the typical seasonal data for over 200 varieties of fruit or vegetable. This year here in Massachusetts we had are having an abnormally cold and wet spring and summer, so the seasonal info in Locavore is a little out of synch with the current reality. I don’t think this is a big deal, and as you get used to your local seasons you will easily be able to make mental adjustments. In the good news department I actually find the information easier to access and use via Locavore on the iPhone than it is on the actual nrdc.org website.
 

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The Browse button provides a searchable produce list allows you to see which states a particular product is grown in & more importantly see where it is in season.


The next thing Locavore does for you is provide a list of Farmer’s Markets and Farm Stands in your area. This is through a tie in with a well known website called LocalHarvest.com. You are presented with a list of Farm Stands or Farmer;s Markets for your area sorted by distance from your current location. Clicking on the name takes you to the page for that particular market on the LocalHarvest.com website. There you will find information about that market: address, hours of operation, a map, a list of products sold, contact information etc. Now it is up to the people running the market to keep the information updated and this is a bit of a weakness of this database. A market may no longer be running, but the website presents the latest info they have on hand. Typically there is a warning if their info is more than a couple years old, telling you to check ahead to see if the market is still in operation. For example in my own town: The new this year Farmer’s Market on the town common was indeed listed, but so was an old one in the north side of town that is no longer operating. As mentioned there was a warning regarding the old one. This is not the fault of Locavore which is simply presenting the info from the LocalHarvest.com website in an iPhone friendly format. I’ve also created a category in iCal for these Farmer’s Markets and a reminder pops of the day before the event and another several hours before.

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Clicking on the Markets button brings up a list of Farm Stands or Farmer’s Markets sorted by travel distance from your current location. Clicking on one of the names brings up a web page with information about the market.


All in all this is a cool little app, well worth the $3.99 price tag. The app is easy to use, and is logically laid out. While there are some limitations I’ve mentioned, they are limitations of the databases this app ties into and not of the app itself. As I said earlier I find parts of the iPhone version easier to use than the full-fledged versions on their respective websites. This app has been very stable for me and I have used it without incident. Some of you may be thinking: “ I can do this for free using the web browser on my computer why pay for it?” Several reasons actually. First: Locavore takes the information from several websites regarding locally grown produce and aggregates it into one app and presents it to you in a format that is quick and easy to use on your iPhone. Second: Using Locavore to access this information is actually easier than navigating to it yourself via a web browser. Third and most importantly: You typically always have your cell phone with you where ever you go. When you are in supermarket evaluating produce you won’t have access to your computer, but you probably do have your iPhone. Same thing if you are out and about on a Sunday drive and decide you’d like to visit some farm stands. By the way you can manually enter a location if the GPS isn’t working in your locale or you want search for info in another area.

That is the power of the iPhone - it is a personal computer in your pocket that you can have with you at all times. There are at last count close to 70,000 applications that allow you to personalize it for your needs. I plan to write some more blog entries about some of the other cooking related apps for my iPhone. This will include the shopping app Groceries which I was originally intending to write today. I switched gears when I used Locavore to find a new this summer farmer’s market in my town that I plan to visit tomorrow. So if you like to get local produce and own an iPhone, check out Locavore by Buster McLeod.
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SOME RELATED LINKS:

  THE IPHONE BBQ BUDDY Blog Entry
  THE IPHONE BBQ BUDDY - PT. 2 Blog Entry
  THE IPHONE BBQ BUDDY - COOKING HOME SCREEN Blog Entry


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