Picking the best in-season produce with the lowest pesticide levels or purchasing the most sustainable seafood at the local farmers market can be a challenge. Here are 11 apps that help increase the impact of each market visit for buyers and sellers alike.
Dirty Dozen. Free. Published by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research organization. This app focuses on which types of conventionally raised produce are the lowest in pesticides and which types are the highest. Lists include the Dirty Dozen, like apples, spinach, and grapes, and the Clean Fifteen, like sweet corn, asparagus, and cantaloupe. The app helps decide when finding an organic alternative is especially important. The Dirty Dozen Plus, an expanded app, includes a list of hot peppers and leafy greens.
Farmstand. Free. The app lists more than 8,700 farmers markets around the world and connects shoppers with markets for locally grown food. It supports local communities by supporting linking users to each other by allowing them to take and post pictures of markets and vendors, alert others to great finds, and browse information posted by fellow market-goers. Markets can be sorted by location and opening times.
Good Guide. Free. A wide-ranging shopping app that includes everything from produce to pet food, the Good Guide rates products and producers according to their health, environmental, and social benefits. In the case of fresh produce, dairy, and meats, items can be sorted using filters such as organic, vegan, and specific nutrition aspects (low sodium, etc.). The app can be tailored to highlight shoppers’ personal requirements.
Harvest. Paid. The app provides a list of pesticide levels on fruit and vegetables and instructs shoppers on methods for picking the best and ripest piece in-season produce, from shaking blueberries to knocking on watermelons. It also provides information on the best means of storage for different kinds of produce.
HarvestMark Food Traceability. Free. Participating fruit, vegetable, and dairy brands label their products with a 16-digit HarvestMark code or QR code; shoppers use the app to scan the code, retrieve the product’s harvest information, and give feedback. The app connects food producers with their customers and offers food production transparency.
Locavore. Free. Locavore has a large database of local farmers markets, farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and vendors selling organic produce and in-season foods. It showcases recipes using in-season ingredients and also allows users to tag local sellers, share reviews, and post new finds.
Love Food Hate Waste. Free. Produced by the United Kingdom-based organization WRAP, the app helps shoppers reduce food waste by better organizing their kitchen, cooking, and shopping habits. It helps eaters keep track of what’s in their cupboards, posts alerts where there are duplicate items, highlights recipes for how to best use the food that’s already there, and cuts down on unnecessary purchases.
Seafood Watch (U.S.) / Good Fish Guide (U.K.). Free. Optimized for use in the United States or in the United Kingdom respectively, these two apps help shoppers identify the most sustainable seafood options at the market. Seafood Watch highlights best choices and indicates the options to avoid. The Good Fish Guide uses a traffic light rating system.
Seasons. Paid. The app lists natural growing season data and local availability of hundreds of kinds of produce, from herbs to mushrooms to fruits. It also includes the import seasons of produce, photos, and the location of farmers markets around the world.
True Food. Free. Some countries, including the U.S., do not require mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This app, created by the nonprofit environmental advocacy organization Center for Food Safety, helps shoppers identify which foods contain GMOs, including dairy products, meat, and meat alternatives.
What’s on my food? Free. Created by the Pesticide Action Network, this app accesses an extensive and up-to-date database of all pesticides used on various kinds of produce. Pesticide residues remain on some fruits and vegetables even after washing. Watermelon in the U.S., for example, can have up to 26 different pesticide residues by the time it reaches market, according to Pesticide Action Network. The app illuminates the health effects of each pesticide, from the relatively benign to the downright dangerous.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
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Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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