At first glance, this app absolutely rocks!
It’s free (Android and iPhone), and is an absolute must have for anyone who’s in doubt about how to read ingredients lists or understand nutrition labels.
Unlike NuVal, which I briefly reviewed a few weeks ago, Fooducate requires you to scan the bar code of the grocery item. NuVal simply displays a single 2 digit number between 1 and 100 on the actual shelf display label.
But if your shopping list is on your phone anyway, as mine is, it’s pretty easy to point at and click a picture of the item. It works the same way that RedLaser does in presenting a rectangular area for the bar code. In both cases the barcode image is sent to the magical server which presents results.
What’s presented in Fooducate appears to be a highly accurate, quick and easy way for consumers to judge a product’s health value.
Upon scanning you get:
- an overall letter grade for the product
- calories per serving
- number of fooducate user ‘likes’
- red exlamation points where the product fails (GMOs, refined flours, additives, etc).
- food points (which I have not investigated)
- a complete nutrition label with Green Check marks for where the product gained points
- alternatives for similar products that could be a healthier choice for you
In short, Fooducate is simple, elegant, fast, and helpful on the front end, yet with sufficient depth to be sophisticated, detailed and analytical when you drill down into a food product.
A country divided
The fundamental difference between NuVal and Fooducate is philosophical:
NuVal digests a food’s content in an effort to relieve the consumer from thinking much about whether it’s cart-worthy or not.
Fooducate analyzes and grades out a product as well, but believes that that’s just part of the picture. You need or might want to see the actual data behind how they arrived at it.
I don’t believe a single number (or letter grade) can accurately quantify a food’s value. Nor can a single number adequately allow a consumer to assemble a healthy diet: an yam’s NuVal 85 is no better and no worse than tofu’s NuVal 100. It depends on the individual and what else is in the cart.