Eating good in the neighborhood

AP Photo/Larry Crowe
AP Photo/Larry Crowe
Larry Crowe

Ordered too much Pad Thai last night? There’s an app for that!
Leftover Swap is a new smartphone application that allows users to take photos of unwanted food in their fridge, name their price and wait for a hungry neighbor to arrange for a pick-up or even delivery.
The app plans to deliver a clean fridge for compulsive cooks and a clean conscience for those looking for an alternative to composting. Firmly entrenched in the “better living through technology” ethos that pervades the San Francisco tech community, the app’s developers tout the social benefits of their product. The developers’ website offers some startling statistics about the American appetite for overconsumption and social isolation. LeftoverSwap claims:

  • 40% of the food we produce goes to waste.
  • 25% of us don’t know our neighbors’ names.
  • 70% of us are overweight.
  • 16% of Americans lack enough food for a healthy lifestyle.
  • 99% of us don’t need a second helping of the beef lo mein.

While the prospect of curing world hunger, building communities, and reducing waste all work for the success of Leftover Swap, there are some social taboos to overcome. A quick browse of LeftoverSwap’s twitter page reveals some skeptical tweets. Critics generally fall into one of two camps, the germaphobes:
and the stranger dangers:
The not-even-launched-yet app is also facing some challenges that go beyond the theoretical. The director of the San Francisco Health Department’s environmental regulatory program spoke with SF Weekly on Friday to explain that selling food without a permit could lead to thousands of dollars in citations and to warn that there’s no way to verify the safety of food handled my non-professionals.
LeftOverswap leaves a lot of questions on the table. Will enterprising swappers cook food expressly for the purpose of posting for sale? Will diners be less likely to offer their leftover meals to the homeless? Are people with iPhones the ones that are really going hungry in America? And, what’s the going rate for a day-old Cronut?

Eating good in the neighborhood