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A smart VC should eat this one up: what's in my food?

There're actually a few problems technology can handle. And I think I've run across one recently.
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Written by Harry Fuller on

There're actually a few problems technology can handle. And I think I've run across one recently. There's a growing move that combines green tech and personal health. And it's starting to gain momentum in many countries as a combined social and political trend. We've come a long way from the old wheeze, "You are what you eat." More than cholesterol panic or calorie counting, many consumers and their governments are paying closer attention to what is being fed to us. This makes sense: almost nobody produces much of his or her own food any more. We depend on the same global economic systems that bring us iPods, DVDs and cars. The same economic system that encourages coal-burning for energy, plastic bottles for our drinking water, possibly toxic chemicals in our "freshened" office air. The same economic system that will provide fresh kiwi fruit year round no matter what the energy costs, or produce untold amounts of corn despite the cost in fertilizer and resulting water pollution. So we can all justify being a bit leery about what we're being fed.

In this country what could be considered a move toward a greener diet is being pushed by several causes. One: too many Americans are too fat, and getting fatter. I'm in awe of Mississippi which now has nearly 30% of its adults in the obesity column. Colorado continues to be the thinnest state on average, goes with their thin mountain air.

Not even the most staunch free marketeer can really justify letting an eight-year-old eat whatever he or she wants, so another front in the food fight: school vending machines. And some schools are taking action.

In a state not known for its social activism, the mayor of the largest city is leading his citizens on a major weight loss campaign. Oklahloma City's mayor wants his folks to lose a million pounds this year. Says the mayor, "The message of this obesity initiative is that we’ve got to watch what we eat."

In some countries there's still a strong belief in government-induced progress. Here's an example of a columnist in Britain asking what they call the "nanny state" to improve his diet and curtail obesity. What would he think if he could visit Mississippi?

Here in the U.S. food journalist, Michael Pollan, has come out with a new book and he advocates you go gather your own! Doesn't he know we could drive the tasty dandelion into extinction? Here's a look at Pollan's newest food book. Pollan's a sort of food fundamentalist. Here's a look at his entire work on American food and its purveyors.

So what we need is a handy food breathalyzer. What's in my tomato, beef or banana? What pollutants, additives, vitamins? An on-the-spot analysis and digital read out for the consumer, the grocer, the chef. We've long known that sucrose and salt are drugs, addictive drugs, so if we can test a few athletes for steroids, why not test millions of tons of food for salt, sugar, vitamins, calories, toxics, etc.? The new foodalyzers would sell at a higher rate than those luggage security gizmos at airports. Food security, destined to make airport security look like small potatoes.

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