I love Shanghai at night… when the sun goes down and the lights turn on. There’s something mysterious about the multi-coloured neon covered by the steam coming through the minuscule corner shops; all cooking their own dishes in their own style. But behind this fog covering piles of dumplings, the real secret is still to be unveiled – the secret of the actual ingredients of the everyday meal.
China is particularly dodgy when it comes to food. Not knowing the ingredients can, at best, leave you eating something you didn’t know was eatable and, at worst, cost you your life.
This is actually this is a worldwide problem. It starts with the horsemeat scandal and escalates into poverty, inequality, wages, fraudulent fair-trade and organised crime. In Italy, many types of olive oils are being spread out by the mafia so, unless you know the exact growth chain, there’s no way to find out the quality.
Point is that there’s no way you can find out where the packet you picket off the shelf actually comes from.
This is technologically possible though and, if implemented on a large scale, could change the way we eat forever. This is something a food lover like me, cannot resist participating in, which is why I, a week ago, got on the plane in Shanghai.
Our two cases at the TASICC (The Annual Shanghai International Expo Convention) shows that we can make it possible to see the exact source of the food. We used blockchain tech to build a system that works locally to China and internationally. We wanted to make it easy to understand, something that anyone can do and relate to. To do that, we settled for a scanning process where all you need to do is grab the product and scan it either through a reader or a phone.
This will give you a world map, showing the exact route of the product, a live stream feed of the farm, all the organic certificated, ways of production and the exact stages of the process.
Focused on the two areas gave us enough products while we really explore each stage of the two environments. Our stands were full of rice, wine (from both countries of course), honey, sea salt, olive oil and prosecco.
Judging from the feedback, this seems to be a feature people been waiting for a while. Along with all the attention our team got, we signed almost a hundred MOU’s. We had conversations with all types of industries, all wondering how and it would work for them. It seemed to be that the need for transparency is here if not long overdue.
Fields across the world are now going through their own challenges. Some are burning while others are drowning. It could possibly leave us with less food than before and, if we want to maintain the quality, the most important part is to use the resources we have and the tech that’s given to us. In the end of the day, there’s no steam without fire, but we made the fire and we’re more than capable of putting it out again.