We’re never quite sure what to eat. With one conflicting research study trumping another repeatedly, it has become increasingly difficult to make smart food choices, and to know what we really need at the grocery store based on sustenance and sustainability. Taking the personal dilemma with food into account, Sam Slover, a graduate student at NYU, thought nutrition labels could use an upgrade. Through his project, Wrap Genius, he redesigned one that could be customized to accommodate anyone’s diet.
“Ideally, I want the label to take into account who is looking at it, and adapt accordingly. We all care about different aspects of food, so a dream label should become personalized to the unique interests, background, and diet of each person,” Slover tells Fast Company’s Co.Design.
“More realistically, I want the label to make it easy for people to quickly understand the overall nutritional profile of the food. How many good and bad nutrients does the product have? What is its realistic serving size? And just how processed is it?”
Slover’s redesign of the nutrition label focuses on three color-coded categories: Quick Facts (in neutral blue), Avoid Too Much (in alert red), and Get Enough (in good-to-go green). By default, Avoid Too Much contains ingredients such as sodium and saturated fat, but it could be easily adjusted for a diet that’s high in saturated-fats from red meat or coconut oil, or for someone with diabetes, who needs to control sugar intake to the gram.
To build his site, Slover spent three months tracking his own grocery habits – counting his purchases of each item, documenting where each food was sourced, and creating a massive database of the 3,548 individual ingredients he purchased within foods over that time.
“On an average store visit, my bag of groceries would include products from 20 different locations, representing more than 10 different countries,” Slover says. “Very few were from the New York region where I live. It’s amazing how many product locations can be represented in a single bag of groceries.”
The label itself is just one part of the greater experience of Wrap Genius, which is full of fantastic ideas. Slover hopes to expand the project in the future by crowdsourcing a richer database of ingredients, and allowing users to customize a dietary dashboard for their own use.
Slover recently exhibited his Wrap Genius project at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) Spring Show 2014, where students showed off their final creative designs, which cleverly combined technology and sustainable materials.
(Photos and h/t Co.Design)