Homegrown for Your Smartphone

3 handy apps with local roots

Back Web Only Oct 15, 2014 By Russell Nichols

For the past few years, Sacramento’s been trying to boost its tech cred. That’s not easy when you’ve got Silicon Valley for a neighbor. But one thing the Capital Region can boast is deep agricultural roots. With some 8,000 acres of boutique farms and over 50 farmers markets, Sacramento has emerged as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.”

But is the big idea some mix of technology and agriculture? Chris Jackson of Rowy Networks thinks so, which is why he created a computerized system for tracking cows. But there are others in the region making the connection by linking smartphones to local fare.

The following list of notable apps proves that innovation can be born right in our backyard. So if you want to support this region’s tech and food movements, be sure to buy local.*

(*The apps are free.)

1. ShoppingScout

Good for: budget shoppers and coupon clippers

With this price comparison app, you can save money and time at the grocery store by finding where the best deals are at local and online stores. You can do this by barcode-scanning products directly into your phone or using the item search; then the app tells you where and for how much you can find the product at participating stores. Created by UC Davis graduate Ken Ouimet, ShoppingScout provides a virtual shopping assistant and allows users to share shopping lists, check nutrition facts and find healthy alternatives. The app boasts 3 million products indexed and according to the site, users routinely save 30 percent on their normal grocery bill.

2. Nicolas’ Garden

Good for: health-conscious families

When he was 8 years old, Nicolas Come had a vision for a product designed to help kids eat healthier. He pitched his idea at a local hackathon, and in December 2012, released his family-friendly recipe app. With Nicolas’ Garden, kids can shop for healthy ingredients, prepare meals, upload photos, play games and explore local farmers’ markets. Families can find healthy recipes and fun tips to partake in the local food movement one meal at a time.

3. Swiggler

Good for: would-be minglers

Now, the day’s winding down. You finished your shopping, had a healthy meal and you just went out for happy hour. You see someone you’re interested in, but don’t know how to break the ice. Enter Swiggler, a “social gifting platform” that allows you to buy someone a drink at local venues with the tap of a touchscreen. Founded by Dennis Luong and Narmina Gasanbek, this app is the new kid on the block –– it just went live in April. Not only can you purchase drinks for other Swiggler users or your contacts, but you can also check out live feeds to find the hottest local bars, restaurants or nightclubs on a given night–which should help you make “healthier” choices.


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