Sep.30, 2012 | 10:07 AM–The blog Fooducate, which was founded in 2008 to investigate the food industry, has its roots in an ordinary visit to the supermarket.
Israeli entrepreneur Hemi Weingarten had recently sold MDRM, a memory flash card company he helped found, to the multinational data storage company SanDisk and moved from Israel to California with his wife and kids.
“The encounter with American food wasn’t particularly joyous,” says Weingarten about his acclimatization period in the United States. One day, his wife returned from the supermarket with glow-in-the-dark yogurt.
“That led me to read the list of ingredients for the first time in my life,” continues Weingarten. “I discovered that the ingredient red 40 is likely to cause hyperactivity in children.
He added, “I didn’t understand why this ingredient was banned for use in Europe but was permitted for use in the U.S.”
“It bothered me that as a consumer I didn’t know what was in my food. The blog came from the desire to educate people about food. I saw that the food industry is optimized to earn large profits and use low cost raw materials and manufacturing processes,” says Weingarten.
As the blog gained traction, Weingarten began to see the business potential in creating tools to help people make informed decisions about the food they purchase. Eventually, he returned to Israel and met with Oren Butchmits and Hagai Meranda, both former employees of Partner Communications (which operates under the brand name Orange in Israel).
After raising just under a million dollars from private investors, the three men teamed up to turn Fooducate into a company in 2010. They saw an opportunity to combine Weingartern’s idea with a new piece of technology, the iPhone, which had taken the world by storm in 2007.
Fooducate lets people scan food on the shelves of supermarkets to help them make healthy decisions. The app automatically assigns a letter grade from A to D to scanned food products and suggests healthier alternatives. It also displays concise bullet-point explanations to help users understand why a product received the grade it did…Read More>>