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Why Did I Build foodious?
Mon, May 28th

Your foodious Creator, Taking a Quick Break To Hike With His Kids

It was always my goal to build a very unique recipe/food/nutrition-based website, and foodious, as it exists today, is the first step I've taken towards achieving that goal.

It is my hope that this is just the beginning of something big, and so I'd like to talk a little about why foodious came to be and where I think the opportunity is moving forward.

The Existing Landscape

The recipe/ingredient/nutrition landscape is both fragmented and almost entirely denormalized. Some sites have great recipes. Other sites will tell you how many heads of baby bok choy you need to end up with a cup of chopped bok choy. Some sites will tell you how many calories are in 3oz of prime rib [1][2]. Other sites have a great meal calendar. Some sites have great shopping tools. Finding and tracking allergy data can be awfully difficult (sometimes nearly impossible), and food/drug interaction data is similarly both difficult to find and difficult to track.

Which means that to get any kind of ballpark nutritional and allergy information for a recipe you make at home is very, very difficult and can involve multiple websites, an app or two, and even sometimes a pen, pencil, and calculator[3]

Enter foodious

foodious is my attempt to "meet people where they are", in terms of cooking at home. I wanted to give parents, athletes, chefs ... really anyone who cooks, a baseline insight into the nutrition of their prepared food, and to do so without having to put in a lot of effort[4]. To do this, I tried to hide as much of the complexity of the underlying data engine and just show people what they need to see in order to understand what they're putting into their bodies.

One of the reasons I took the time and trouble to create this fully normalized recipe, ingredient, and nutrition data engine is because I know that in order to create shopping lists, scale ingredient quantities, track/correlate allergy data and food/drug interaction data, I need a normalized set of ingredients available to link to nutritional data, drug data, allergy data, etc.

The basic engine, as it stands now, will provide recipes, nutritional information, classification data, and basic allergy data. It also has a great shopping list and a drag & drop calendar that does real-time charting of percentage of the RDA. It can also suggest recipe modifications to help them meet your nutritional goals (e.g.: "modify this recipe and make it gluten-free" or "modify this recipe and lower the sodium by 45%").

Where Do We Go From Here?

The opportunity ahead for foodious is huge, and in some sense limitless. The long-term trend in food and nutrition is that people are getting more saavy about what they're putting into their bodies. We want to know if it's organic, local, sustainable, fair-trade, etc. We want to know if it's paleo, keto, low-carb, and/or has saturated fat (and how much).

As time goes on, more questions will be asked of the food we consume, and foodious will be there to present data-driven answers and insights.

If you'd like to think of it in a different way: I'm curating what I think is a very valuable dataset, which I'll naturally extend over time.

The current infrastructure has been put in place to begin to centralize, normalize, and correlate datasets that are simply not able to be made useful by anyone with real-world constraints on their time. I will continue to leverage what I've built in order to increase both the depth and the breadth of the foodious offering.

Some of the areas I'd like to build out are:

  • Seasonal Ingredients: It would be great to model seasonal ingredients by both available date window and geographic location and promote recipes that use in-season ingredients.
  • Optional Ingredients: Add ingredients to recipes as "optional" and show how the nutrition of the recipe varies with and without these ingredients.
  • Food & Drug Interaction:: It would be great to model food/drug interaction data and then allow users to specify the medications they're taking in their profiles. This would allow me to show potential drug interactions on the recipe pages (and perhaps remove recipes from a user's search results if the interaction is either harmful and/or severe).
  • Nutritional Deltas: When a recipe is customized, it would be great to highlight the major differences between the derived recipe and the parent recipe.
  • Universal Substitutions: foodious has universal substitution data, which it presents on the site. These are ingredient substitutions that allow recipes to become gluten-free, low-sodium, egg-free, corn-free, low-carb, etc. This dataset is currently in it's infancy and therefore has tremendous potential.
  • Ingredient Cost: It would be great to build an app to crowd-source local food prices (perhaps by taking pictures of ingredients at your local grocery store) and then allowing "shop by price" (e.g.: "Where should I shop in order to make this recipe for the lowest cost?")
[1] 3oz is the typical reference measurement used by the USDA for nutritional analysis of meat.
[2] Which you then have to convert to the 10oz steak you're about to cook.
[3] I know someone who does this (the pen, paper, and calculator).
[4] I didn't just want to show "what [is in the food]" (e.g.: "this dish has 36 carbohydrates") but "why" (e.g.: "50% of the carbs come from the bread, 25% from the chickpeas, etc)" .
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