The “ethical food” movement has been growing throughout the decade. With more and more stores claiming that they are “locally sourced” or “ethically produced” a new value is being assigned to knowing where your food comes from. One U.K.-based startup has harnessed this global movement and united it with the power of blockchain transactional tracking. They’re using blockchain techniques to show you the story of the food that lines grocery stores and restaurants throughout the world.
The woman behind the blockchain food tracking revolution is Jessi Baker, the founder of CEO of her company, Provenance. Baker has always been passionate about local food, but it was her computer science background that gave her the idea to create her company which uses blockchain technology to create a shared log of food product’s transactional journey around the world.
She was studying for a PhD in computer science in 2013, when the blockchain revolution inspired her to apply the concept of a shared, constantly updated log, to the food industry.
“You can think of a blockchain,” Ms Baker told the BBC, “as a shared data system that everyone can use in order to be able to trust information. What it allows us to do is to have a shared system of record that nobody can tamper with and everybody can see.”
Creating trust in the food industry is no easy feat. Provenance prides itself on helping food retailers and producers become “open brands” that have a traceable digital footprint. Provenance wants to use the concept of blockchain to help promote trust by linking digital footprints to physical food items.
For instance, Provenance users are able to track fish by giving them a digital tag including DNA scanning. From there, they use blockchain’s concept of a shared ledger to track these fish from the moment they are caught in Indonesia, through several processing plants, and into restaurants around the globe. Each time the fish is moved, the ledger is updated in real-time, creating a travel itinerary that allows you to see how a product has moved around the world.
According to the Provenance website, blockchain is at the center of their movement for a decentralized food economy. Information is no longer the sole property of food industry giants due to blockchain’s user-updated ledgers, and Provenance’s elegantly designed app interface. They believe everyone should be able to understand and participate in the process of tracking items around the world.
“Provenance is at the beginning of establishing an open registry for material products and their individual incidences or masses on a public blockchain, with a linked open data stored off-chain. We think there is a clear need for a system everyone can trust, that isn’t “guardianed” or owned by anyone, and that’s open and inclusive by default,” they wrote in statement written after the Ellen MacArthur Foundation CE100 Summit in Berlin.
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