Human Environments Avalysis Laboratory

Smart APPetite

Supporting Local Food Economies & Improving Healthy Food Access within Southwestern Ontario through the Use of a Smartphone ‘APP’ & Interactive Website

SmartAPP is first a ‘Tool’. It is a smartphone application, or ‘app’ (available in the App Store), and an accompanying interactive website. However, it is a lot more than just multimedia. This community-based project wants to find out how a smartphone application can benefit the local community from ‘field-to-fork’, from farmer to user. Through this technology, we want to strengthen already existing local food networks, support the local food movement & build new connections within and between communities.

The app has been developed collaboratively by the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) at Western University, the London Training Centre, Brescia University College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Old East Village Business Improvement Area.

Project Goals

"The goal of our app is to remove barriers to finding local and healthy foods, which will help drive the local food economy. Many people experience or perceive barriers to accessing local foods, which can prevent local food networks from expanding their capacity." Jason Gilliland, Director, Human Environments Analysis Laboratory

Being health and economic geographers, we are also concerned about removing barriers to healthy food access and strengthening the local economy. We view ‘access’ to food as comprised of geographical access, economic access, and informational access. Healthy eating is influenced by the food that is accessible and available to us. To that aim, we want to make eating fresh seasonal food easy & convenient. Our ‘app’ & website will make ‘getting in touch’ with local food providers easier and aims to make buying local the easy choice.

Buying local, healthy food has the potential to revitalize our local economies by supporting farmers and ensuring they receive a fair price for their produce, and receive more of the ‘food dollar.’ Ontarians currently spend $18 billion annually on food produced outside the province. Experts estimate that if every family in Ontario shifted $10 of their weekly food purchases to local food, Ontario businesses would create 10,000 new jobs and generate an additional $2.4 billion in food sales annually.

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