Local company Foodwaze creates sustainable food locator app
It’s not hard to hunt down basic information about restaurants. Between Yelp, Google and Facebook reviews, you can find photos, entire menus and lengthy customer reviews from just about every restaurant in town. But what about the component of food and drinks that everyone seems to be talking about? Short of inviting yourself into the kitchen and asking the chef precisely where his meat and produce came from, how are you supposed to know how the food you’re eating out is being sourced?
Enter Foodwaze, a Charlottesville-based startup that wants to provide exactly that information for consumers. Co-founder Michael Reilly, a certified health coach and former journalist who teamed up with his tech-savvy partner Lou Foster to create the website and app, started the company for the same reason a lot of people go into business for themselves: He had a need that wasn’t being met by the market.
“On the surface, it seems like it’s just another app out there to help people find healthy food,” Reilly says. “But really, it’s to help be a catalyst in a lot of the developments happening out there in food and bring those forward.”
Reilly defines “sustainability” as producing and consuming food in a way that promotes health and nutrition, protects the environment and benefits the local economy.
The app and website (both of which require an annual $5 fee for access) are designed to help consumers find places that value and produce food that is sustainable. Users can access background information about restaurants, farms and shops that Reilly has gleaned by personally meeting with chefs and business owners, plus photos and details about where the products come from and the people who are making it happen.
Organic labels and buzzwords such as “farm-to-table” can create a lot of confusion and mistrust in the food industry, Reilly says. It’s easy to slap a sticker on a container of strawberries to make consumers feel better, but Reilly wants the Foodwaze brand to become recognizable and trustworthy.
“When you really look at the word sustainability, it’s the opposite of our industrial food system,” he says. “There are so many organizations that are working hard to make that shift, from farms to restaurants to nonprofits. What we’re trying to do is connect those efforts better to the consumer. A lot of those efforts aren’t really going to go anywhere if consumers don’t know where to find this food and if they don’t trust what they’re getting.”
An apple a day
It’s that apple time of year again, y’all. Virginia Cider Week rolls around every fall, and as the commonwealth’s apple and cider industry continues to expand, so do the Cider Week festivities.
Beginning on Friday, November 13 and stretching until Sunday, November 22 (we use the term “week” loosely), cideries and restaurants across the state will host tastings, dinners, pairings and other events to celebrate Virginia’s favorite fruit.
Local events include cider tastings at Whole Foods and Beer Run, a home cidermakers workshop at Fifth Season Gardening, cider-centric food at Firefly all week and a food truck takeover hosted by Hill & Holler at Adventure Farm in Earlysville on November 15.
For more information, check out ciderweek va.com.