From December 7-9, 2012, Food+Tech Connect, GRACE Communications Foundation and Applegate are bringing together technologists, entrepreneurs, creatives, policy experts, non-profit leaders and industry executives for Hack//Meat, the first-ever “meat hackathon” in New York City.
Over the course of the weekend, “steakholders” will present some of their greatest challenges and work with teams to rapidly prototype innovative solutions. Teams will have a chance to pitch their hacks to an expert panel of judges, including Tom Mylan (The Meat Hook), Stephen McDonnell (Applegate), Hillary Mason (Bitly), Paul Matteucci (US Venture Partners) and Shai Goldman (500 Startups), for a chance to win $2,500 and business services to bring projects to market.
Sign up here to participate in the hackathon and check out the following summary to learn more about some of the challenges we will be tackling. The complete challenge briefs are available in full on the event wiki.
Problem: While consumer are increasingly interested in purchasing organic, antibiotic-free and grass-fed and organic meat and other products, they often have a hard time locating them for two reasons: 1) It’s hard to physically find them in their grocery store. 2) Their store doesn’t carry such products and it’s difficult to find a manager and request that they carry it. Essentially, there is no way to communicate consumer demand in real time.
Solution: A mobile app that lets consumers do a map-based search of the grocery store, and has a social component that allows them to “request” a product from the grocery store manager.
Problem: Increase consumer awareness and engagement around issues related to industrial meat consumption and unsustainable food system practices that negatively impact personal and public health as well as the environment.
Solution: We envision transmedia single/multiple player learning tools that include options for actionable steps. Perhaps a “Free the animals: from crate to pasture – a farm animal game”; “Find the truth; look for the clues on the factory farm.” This could include quiz-driven engagement and could leverage social media integration and possible competition opportunities.
Problem: Inventory of livestock raised for meat has steadily increased over the last decade, and yet producers and processors are not seeing an analogous growth in net income. The industry, while specialized, hosts a network of producer brands, independent processors and diverse market channels that are not always aligned. An emergence of new producers highlights processing capacity and a need for greater understanding of the value chain.
Solution: Identify communication tools that connect industry players in the livestock space. Evaluate the capacity utilization metrics and develop a unified approach for optimization. The goal is to incorporate innovative technology into the value chain to improve efficiency and accessibility to the local meat system.
Problem: Food labeling information exists across organizations in a disparate format, which makes it difficult for consumers to locate the correct information when shopping for products that offer additional value. Currently there is no cohesive repository of or technology for food labeling information. An opportunity exists to meet the needs of many consumer types, including but not limited to those who are interested in animal welfare, workers rights, fair trade and sustainable agricultural practices.
Solution: Develop a user-friendly mobile app or API that provides a searchable database of comprehensive food labeling information for consumers of many demographics.
Problem: The hog industry in Iowa has seen many changes over the last three decades, an evolution of poor farm policy that has arrived at a disconnect between the farmer and the consumer. A wealth of data exists around the trend, but there is no cohesive presentation that illustrates the wider impact of the changing food system. There is a need for greater comprehension of the problem at the policy level and a forum that empowers the consumer to employ purchasing power in the market.
Solution: Create an interactive platform and/or infographic that further educates, connects and empowers aware consumers in the Midwest. Suggested topics include but are not limited to the economy of food monopolies and the geography of factory farms, as well as public health issues and food safety problems.
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