One of my favorite things about summer is that many delicious foods come into season. Mouthwatering strawberries, sweet-tart blueberries, juicy ripe tomatoes, and cool cucumbers bursting from the ground in farms and gardens. The sad thing is that not everyone gets to partake in this bounty.
All kinds of socio-economic and geographic factors collide to leave some of us with gobs of excess (which usually gets wasted) while others go without.
Among the growing movement to create a more equitable sharing economy are many creative souls with a passion for food. Whether it’s foraging, growing, cooking or serving, these innovators want to make it easy for us to share food with each other. After all, food is a common denominator among every being on this planet: we all must eat.
Like all the most popular forms of collaborative consumption, finding and sharing food with friends, neighbors and even strangers is getting a modern makeover using mobile technologies. Browse through the list of food sharing tools below, and let us know which one you’d like to try!
9 Mobile Tools to Help You Find and Share Food
1. Ripe Near Me
This brand new web tool allows users to post about homegrown food or produce growing in public space. It’s free to add as many different foods as you grow, and you decide whether to swap, sell or giveaway the fruits of your labor. You can also “subscribe” to certain gardens or even individual plants. Then, when that source is ripe for the picking, you’ll receive an alert!
This iPhone app made big waves when it launched last year. Aimed at reducing food waste, this app makes it possible to post your leftovers (yes, we’re talking half a pizza, too much casserole, or that birthday cake you’re not supposed to be eating) online so that others can take advantage. “Simply fire up LeftoverSwap, view the available leftovers around you, make your selection, and arrange for pick-up or delivery. Your cheap, local, and community-oriented meal is waiting,” explains the site.
Love to cook but low on friends? Hate to cook but always up for trying dishes? This is the food sharing service for you. Upon sign up, you’ll be able to search for meals being offered in your area. Order one up the same way you might from a traditional restaurant. When it’s ready, the home cook lets you know, and you simply pay the pre-arranged price when you pick it up.
4. Wild Edibles
If you’re ready to get serious about foraging for free food, this iPhone app will be well worth the $8 price tag. Drawing on the outstanding publications and extensive knowledge of “Wildman” Steve Brill, the Wild Edibles app allows users to identify wild edibles using up to 8 images for each plant and provides harvesting methods, preparation instructions, and recipes to help you enjoy the free foods you forage.
Imagine this: You’re about to go on vacation, but your fridge is still overflowing from your last CSA delivery. Or you have a farm, a bakery, or some other business and don’t want to throw out food that’s technically unsaleable, but still edible. Foodsharing.de is a web platform based in Germany that’s designed to be the solution for these, and many other food sharing conundrums.
Communities have been swapping food informally for centuries, and this platform simply acts as a collective where they can list and support each other. Use it to find or start a local food swapping group in your area! The website is currently getting an upgrade, but still offers a DIY Food Swap Toolkit (PDF) and Swap Sheets (PDF). Additionally the Facebook page and Twitter account are both still going strong.
You’ve heard of flash mobs? Well get ready for Crop Mobs. The CropMobster Community Exchange is a tool designed for gleaners, hunger relievers and other non-profit organizations. Any time you have food to sell, donate or share you can post an alert on your terms. You can also broadcast your needs so that community members can step up to fill them whenever possible.
Looking for a truly unique dining experience? Skip the overpriced, stuffy restaurants and search for a meal on EatWith instead. Available in cities around the world, EatWith hosts open their homes and kitchens for those looking to share a meal, often at prices well below restaurants. Browse the community as a guest to find available meals where you live or travel.
This service connects struggling food banks with gardeners who have excess produce they’d like to share. Currently, 6,834 food pantries across all 50 states are registered to receive a sustainable and recurring supply of freshly harvested, locally grown food (many for the first time) from area growers — for free! Available on the web, or as an iPhone or Android app.
Image via Thinkstock