Tracing Our Food, From Soil to Supermarket |

Tracing Our Food, From Soil to Supermarket

You walk away from the market, or the grocery store or wholesaler, with a bunch of fresh, ripe tomatoes, just waiting for the kitchen. But where, exactly, did these tomatoes come from?

Unless you’ve just come from the farm, there’s no way to trace a single tomato’s origin; if you’re buying from an unfamiliar vendor, you might not even know what state it’s grown in. But as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, one California startup, called YottaMark, is looking to change that.

Dubbed HarvestMark, their system of labels entails a sticker on every watermelon, peach, or bunch of grapes that leaves a farm, much as fruits bear stickers now. However, the HarvestMark code, when entered onto the company website, will yield far more information—allowing an interested customer to learn the location where their produce was grown, as well as the farm it came from. Moreover, and critically in the wake of multiple E. coli and salmonella scares, the website can display a “food safety status”—letting the consumer know whether the product has been subject to recalls or potential contamination.

While the operation is still small, a number of growers have started to use HarvestMark stickers in order to trace their product themselves. And as officials work to implement accountability into our food system, there’s no question that a traceable product will have its advantages. The more we know, the better.


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