Small Bites: Phone app tells you what to eat and fighting global poverty is in the bag

by Terry B on September 7, 2011

A new phone app that doesn’t just review restaurants, but rates individual menu items, is the subject of my latest USA Character Approved Blog post. And recycled shopping bags now on sale at Whole Foods support microlending programs in developing countries.

When it comes to technology, I’m a late adopter. I keep resisting smart phones. But apps like this one keep coming along, making me rethink my Luddite tendencies. When you want to eat out, choosing where to go is usually pretty easy. Friends, the media, websites like Yelp and even street buzz can keep all but the most clueless of us up on the hottest new tables, the classic standbys and the best neighborhood joints. Choosing the best dishes from an unfamiliar menu can be a bigger challenge.

Nosh, a free phone app currently available for the iPhone and Android, can help you there. With more than 150,000 menus, 475,000 restaurants and 10 million menu items in its database, Nosh lets you rate individual menu items—and read the reviews of others, complete with photos. And you can link it to Facebook and Twitter, so you can see what your friends like or hate too. You can even keep track of your own likes and dislikes for the next time you go back to a restaurant. Or if you’re a Luddite like me, you can promise yourself you’ll remember, but we all know how that works. To find out more about Nosh, including where to download it for free, check out my latest post on the USA Character Approved Blog.

Whole Foods and BlueAvocado team up to bag poverty

There are any number of ways to help those living in poverty around the world, but one of the most exciting developments in recent years is microlending. Making small loans, usually just hundreds of dollars, to people (usually in developing countries, but not always) to help them start small businesses. The recipients of these loans are almost always women—in the case of Whole Foods’s Whole Planet Foundation, 92% of their clients are women. And the repayment rate is astonishing; 97% of Whole Planet’s microloans are repaid.

The loans enable women to start small businesses such as retail kiosks, sewing workshops, carpentry shops and market stalls. These businesses, often home based, usually employ fewer than five people and may provide the sole source of family income.

Here’s where you come in. Right now, Whole Foods is teaming with BlueAvocado to sell limited edition Make Change, Not Waste reusable shopping bags. For each bag sold, $1 goes to Whole Planet Foundation’s lending efforts. And you won’t just be fighting poverty—you’ll be helping save the planet. BlueAvocado’s eco-savvy reusable bags are made of certifiable recycled REPREVE fabric, made from plastic bottles. In 2010 alone, BlueAvocado helped consumers avoid the use of 18 million plastic/single-use bags, prevented the release 904,000 pounds of CO2 emissions and “upcycled” 277,000 plastic bottles. The ultra-thin, collapsible bags carry up to 25 pounds and come in four patterns.

Through this partnership, BlueAvocado and Whole Planet Foundation hope to raise $20,000 to fund microlending programs that will give 590 people across the globe the chance to lift themselves out of poverty. You can find the bags at Whole Foods locations throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northern and Southern California.

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