Monday, October 02, 2006

European Augmented Barcode

Interesting back and forth between Michael Pollan, the author of the Omnivore's Dilemma and the CEO of Whole Foods. At the end Michael Pollan has this to say:

I'm wondering if you've had a chance to look into experiments in Europe to add a second barcode to products containing large amounts of information about how and where the product was produced. Apparently the consumer can run the product under a scanner at a kiosk and see pictures of the farm or processing plant where the food was produced, and scroll through pages of text disclosing everything from--in the case of meat--the breed, feed, age and slaughter date of the animal in question. In the case of far-flung products, such a system could include information about the local community as well--so consumers could figure out whether buying, say, produce from Central America was supporting a local community or a multi-national company like Dole. This will be more information than most consumers probably want, but the very fact of the transparency could send a powerful message. The stories told in your store would gain in credibility and power. I would guess, too, that some such system would not be something most of your competitors would ever dare to match. It's hard to imagine Wal-Mart ever doing something like this.
I think this Augmented Barcode is a great idea and similar to the Environmental Rewards Card idea that I came up with that I thought Whole Foods should do. I am glad to see that someone is making it happen and I would like to hear more about it.

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