The 10 Best Food Apps

Don't hit the market without one of these invaluable tools in your pocket!
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The 10 Best Food Apps: What's on My Food?
The 10 Best Food Apps: True Food
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Put That Smartphone to Use

So you've mastered Angry Birds and you're bored with Words with Friends. Now what to do with that smartphone that's weighing you down? Use it to create a better world—through food. Whether it's avoiding pesticides or ridding your pantry of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), there's an app for any of us who want to vote with our forks for a better food system. We've rounded up the 10 best must-have smartphone apps for anyone concerned about the who, what, when, where, and how to have the best weekly grocery shopping trips.

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Hard-to-pronounce ingredients and tricky marketing tactics make it tough to find truly healthy food at the grocery store. Fooducate, voted the top Fitness & Health App of 2011, takes the pain out of supermarket shopping by allowing smartphone users to scan barcodes for an honest evaluation of ingredients and product safety. The app grades scanned food items in terms of healthiness while also providing alerts for health-food imposters that in fact contain high-fructose corn syrup, harmful additives, trans fats, or other toxic ingredients. Mt. Dew, for instance, receives a D+ for excessive sugar, ingredient interactions that create carcinogens, as well as controversial artificial food dyes. The app also suggests healthier alternatives, making your shopping excursion a walk in the park.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android compatible

Price: Free to $3.99, depending on version

Read More: The 15 Most Pointless Foods in Your Supermarket

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Seafood Watch

With many ocean species on the brink of collapse, Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch app helps you find more sustainable options based on GPS-location readings. On the West Coast? Avoid orange roughy but feel good about enjoying U.S. skipjack tuna caught using the troll/pole method. (This reduces the amount of other species harmed during the harvest.) In the Northeast? Go for farmed clams, mussels, and oysters, but pass on farmed salmon, even Atlantic salmon. For the top choices that protect the health of the oceans and your family, tap the "Super Green" list for sustainable seafood choices that are also low in common contaminants like mercury and PCBs but high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Sucker for sushi? This app also shows both the Japanese and common market name for sushi seafood to make searching easier to find safer, more ocean-friendly picks.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android compatible

Price: Free

Read More: The 10 Healthiest Fish on the Planet

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Wild Edibles

For wild food of the land-based sort, look no further than Wild Edibles, an app developed by Wild Man Steve Brill, who leads trips through New York's Central Park teaching people how to identify edible wild plants. Learn what a "Hoosier banana," aka paw-paw, looks like and where to find paw-paws growing, and how to tell the difference between garlic mustard and wild mustard greens. More important, it'll teach you how to avoid poisonous plants without your having to lug around bulky paper guidebooks. The app even works if you have no reception.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad compatible

Price: $7.99 Read More: 7 Wild Fruits Growing in Your Backyard

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What's on My Food?

From apples and almonds to yams and zucchini, this extensive list of more than 90 foods helps you figure out which produce items are most likely to be contaminated with toxic pesticides linked to ADHD, autism, certain cancers, and other health problems. Brought to you by Pesticide Action Network, this app goes far beyond traditional dirty dozen lists and helps you compare pesticide levels on organic versus conventional crops. New in the upgraded version? A honeybee icon that helps you avoid produce items that likely harbor pesticides linked to colony collapse disorder.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad compatible

Price: Free

Read More: The Worst Summer Fruits

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Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide

One of the best moves you can make to vote for a more sustainable food supply, in addition to buying organic food, is to buy foods certified as Non-GMO by the nonprofit Non-GMO Project. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have had their DNA altered to resist toxic pesticides, and those pesticides wind up in your food. The Non-GMO Project actually tests foods for GMO ingredients, and their app lists specific GMO-free foods and brands.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad compatible

Price: Free

Read More: The Truth About Natural Foods

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True Food

Want to take more of a stand against GMOs? Then download the True Food app, which not only points you toward GMO-free brands, but also educates you about issues facing our food system, and has the capability to let you send your congressmen letters telling them how unhappy you are with the way our government regulates GMOs. Developed by the Center for Food Safety, the app lists companies they've contacted who have pledged to rid their supply chains of GMOs. Thumb over one more screen, and learn about more of these toxic crops that are in development. The Center for Food Safety is one of the greatest advocates for a healthier food supply, and now you can carry all their valuable research and knowledge with you everywhere you shop.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android compatible

Price: Free

Read More: 6 Shocking Facts About Your Dinner

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NRDC Eat Local

The hardest part about eating local foods in season is menu planning. It's hard to know what you need every week if you don't know what's in season. Enter the Eat Local app, designed by the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Put in your zip code and up pops a list of all the produce that's in season in your area at the moment. Even if you're not a planner and like to be surprised by what's available, the app provides you with recipes and ideas for any seasonal foods you just don't know what to do with, like kohlrabi and garlic scapes.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad compatible

Price: Free

Read More: 6 Farmers' Market Scams

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Dirty Dozen

Paranoid about your pesticide intake? Look no further than the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen app, which helps you determine which foods you should always buy organic and which conventionally grown foods have the lowest pesticide residues. The nonprofit painstakingly pores over U.S. Department of Agriculture data every year to come up with its "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists. While it's best to buy organic as much as you can to reduce pesticides that wind up in our air, soil, and water, this app makes it easier to know which foods are safe when organic isn't widely available.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone compatible

Price: Free

Read More: Is Your Grocery List Toxic?

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Eden Foods

One of our favorite companies and a pillar of the organic food movement (it's been around since the 1960s), Eden Foods sells organic, vegetarian foods packaged in the only cans on the market that use a less-toxic alternative to hormone-disrupting bisphenol A. Now the company has an app so you can figure out what to do with all their foods, whether a can of kidney beans or that package of soba noodles. The app has more than a thousand recipes to share, organized by course, cuisine, dietary restriction, or ingredient.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad compatible

Price: Free

Read More: The Truth About Canned Soup

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Have you ever shuffled mindlessly through the produce department, unsure of what to look for when selecting your fruit? Are you really supposed to thump a watermelon or shake an avocado? Download Harvest, a comprehensive app that offers instructions and techniques for picking out the best produce, from strawberries to squash. The app also provides storage tips and incorporates the Environmental Working Group's information about pesticide levels on produce, so you don't have to switch back and forth between apps.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad compatible

Price: $1.99

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