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Taste the Blockchain: IoT, Blockchain, and the Food Supply

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Taste the Blockchain: IoT, Blockchain, and the Food Supply

The startup ripe.io wants to increase transparency in the food supply by logging the journey of fresh produce from farm to table. Enter IoT and the blockchain.

· IoT Zone ·
Free Resource

Blockchain technology is so new that many of its possibilities haven't been uncovered yet. Aside from financial applications like Bitcoin, food is one of the first new avenues beginning to be explored.

More and more people are asking where their food comes from. This demand for transparency in sourcing started with the farm-to-table movement and grew to have mainstream implications. One startup, ripe.io, aims to tie every point of the food supply chain to the blockchain. By collecting  detailed product histories and adding them to the blockchain, ripe.io's founders hope to create a higher level of trust in the food system than many consumers now have.

Chief Technology Officer of ripe.io Christian Saucier gave a presentation recently at the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Saucier explained how farmers, manufacturers, packagers, suppliers, restaurateurs, and retail outlets — anyone involved in the food industry — can use IoT and blockchain technology to capture data on the history of any given food item and share it in unprecented ways.

"The food system is not now doing justice to the innovations that are happening on their own terms," Saucier said. "We're aiming for a much smarter menu and a much smarter contract."

A blockchain is a decentralized public ledger. Because everyone involved has a copy, "it's really hard to falsify information," as Saucier explained. Along the path from farm to table, each stakeholder enters information, collected via sensor, about a particular food item — for example, a tomato. At the end of the journey, the customer is able to learn about the soil health where the tomato grew, the sustainability practices of the farm that grew it, the farm's water quality, the history of temperatures at which it was held, its full chain of custody, the energy expended to grow it and transport it, its shelf life, its expected taste, and much more.

"It really engages the customer. Your food is going to get much better in the coming years," Saucier said. With all stakeholders participating, this model could benefit suppliers (interested in managing the ripeness of their produce) as well as consumers looking for a great-tasting tomato. The blockchain could also keep a log of consumers' preferences for suppliers to accommodate as they change.

"We're building human relationships. We can ensure that as long as a majority of stakeholders are good actors, the data has not been tampered with," Saucier said. A major incentive to participate is the blockchain itself, with its associated fees and tokens.

ripe.io is built on Graphene, an open-source blockchain ledger using primarily C++.

Topics:
blockchain ,iot ,graphene

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