The age of the smartphone is upon us – almost everyone has one, and almost everyone relies on them. But they can be put to more useful uses than just sharing pictures of kittens don’t you know; they can also be used as a source of information about how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

Scouring the shelves for local, seasonal produce can often prove to be a bit of a challenge. Finding nutritious, healthy products grown with passion and integrity amongst a sea of unsustainable competitors is a challenge conscientious eaters face every day.

Below are our recommendations for the 5 top food apps that allow shoppers to see what’s in season, where to buy, and what to do with the leftover veggies when swede fatigue kicks in.

Seasons (£1.49)

Supermarkets often distort our view of what food is truly in season. There are very few fresh products available all year round, and purchasing strawberries in December usually means extensive air-miles and minimal nutritional value. Eating food that is in season is one of the best ways to cut down your carbon footprint and ensure that the food you eat hasn’t travelled half-way around the world from field to fork. Recent studies have shown that transporting a bunch of grapes from Chile to the UK generates 1.5kg of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent to leaving a light bulb on all weekend.

This app uses your location to show what food is in season where you are. It allows you to choose between local or imported produce, and the calendar function allows you to see upcoming and soon to be ending seasons. The categories include fruits, vegetables, lettuce, mushrooms, herbs and nuts. It can also locate your nearest farmers markets with useful information such as where and when they are on.

Good Fish Guide (Free)

Figures from a recent study by WWF show that the worlds fishing fleet is 2-3 times larger than our oceans can sustainably support. However, there is often little information on the packaging of fish products to tell consumers where and how the catch was landed. Developed by the Marine Conservation Society, the Good Fish Guide provides an A-Z list of fish species, colour coded as red for ‘avoid’-  not sustainably sourced/managed, amber for ‘think’ – could be vulnerable to overfishing, or green for ‘good’ – sustainably sourced. This is a useful app for day-to-day shopping, or for travellers abroad when presented with a menu of unfamiliar sounding fish.

Wild Edibles (Free)

For the keen explorer this app contains a list with photos of hundreds of different varieties of wild plants and fungi, conveying vital information like which are safe to eat, and which might make you sick.  It also lets you see which species are protected and therefore forbidden to pick. The app filters results according to time of year and gives information about where you are likely to find each species. Eating wild food is an incredibly underrated resource with much delicious produce right beneath our feet. However, if you are unsure of the identity of any species, your best bet is not to eat it. Examples of fantastic finds include wild garlic and poor man’s pepper, both of which can be used in salads or as a garnish.

Riverford app

Riverford Veg Recipes (Free)

Got too much veg that you don’t know what to do with? Its the end of the week and all that’s left in the veg box is a couple of uninspired left-over roots that you’re not sure what to do with. Well, UK box-scheme pioneers Riverford have the answers that you need. As well as regularly including recipe cards in their veg-boxes, they have now launched The ‘Riverford Veg Machine,’ which lets consumers choose two or three different vegetables, spins the wheel and then tells you which recipes match with your selection. With a list of all the vegetables it also provides users with quick cooking ideas and top tips on how best to store them. If you like the look of a recipe you can save it to your favourites for next time. This is a great app that means you never again need to have redundant veggies growing old at the bottom of the box.

Garden Organic – Grow your own (£1.99)

This app acts as a quick and easy reference tool for people who are starting to grow their own veggies. It includes a list of vegetables you could possibly grow, ideal conditions for each variety, and advice on the best times to plant and harvest them. Garden Organic also have another free app for growing your own herb garden. Growing your own is a rewarding, sustainable and cheap way to eat, and with spring soon approaching there is no better time to start than now.

Photograph by edibleoffice

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