For about two years or so a lot of people working in digital media have been banging on about the ‘semantic web’ and how that this evolution in the connection of information on the internet will change how we use the web. But it really has only been in the last six months or so that I have started to notice a lot of new web sites appearing using semantic tools.
First of all lets look at the definition of the semantic web. Here is a basic definition from wikipedia. Semantic Web is a term coined by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) director Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It describes methods and technologies to allow machines to understand the meaning – or “semantics” – of information on the World Wide Web. So what does that mean in real terms?
Lets take a look at the new recipe search site Yummly. There are two angles to explore. The first is the search box which delivers context or meaning in the question. Instead of searching for “Thai Curry Chicken” and getting loads of results you can now ask a more specific question. How about “Thai curry chicken that is not spicy” the semantic engine can determine the differences in the data. Of course the data needs to be there in the first place which brings me to the other half of the site. After you log in you set up all of your preferences, the difference here is the types of preferences you set, everything from the traditional favourites to how and where you prefer to shop. Then when you construct recipes you start to define them on a scale accross key areas like salty, spicy etc. All of this additional data helps to make the search work.
I am sure this is just the beginning of this type of technology. Give it a go, ask it a more specific question and see what it comes back with.
Growing up I suspect that we are all taught about basic food safety. Washing your hands, keeping things in the fridge, washing up utensils after use and so forth. It really is an incredibly important thing to consider, especially in a professional kitchen or cafe. It really does bother me how often there is a story in the news about food poisoning because a cafe or restaurant has dropped its vigilance on cleanliness and food safety. I have often gone in search of answers to questions, using google to find out the answers to food safety questions so the latest book released by the CSIRO, Make it Safe: A Guide to Food Safety, is a fantastic resource. While it is targeted at small to medium businesses in food I believe that it is a fantastic resource for the home as well.
Make It Safe provides practical guidance on how to control food safety hazards, with a specific focus on controls suitable for implementation by small-scale businesses.
The book is available at book stores and online at the CSIRO publishing site. It is a great resource and should find a home with your cook books.
It is a definite sign of the global interest in food and cooking, the iTunes store has launched a portal to group together food apps for the iPhone and Touch as well as the iPad. The Apps For Foodies portal contains a myriad of apps useful to food lovers from all around the world. Everything from restaurant guides, recipes, cheese, wine and cocktails and beyond.
But there is a serious lack of apps in the ethics department. This is a bit of a cause for me. I love the fact that TV and TV Chefs have turned us all into food concious consumers and we are all starting to get back into cooking for ourselves rather than take out. However I really hope that the next step is that these TV formats act in our best interests and take us to the next steps. The three S rule, Source, Season and Supplier.
Source is where does the food come from. Are you eating locally or are you eating produce that has been cold stored, shipped in from overseas and then gas ripened? Buying from a local producer or farmers market ensures quality, freshness and better taste.
Season is pretty obvious. Food is cheaper in season, getting fruit and vegetables at the wrong time of the year normally means that they have been cold stored and shipped in. However be cautious. Strawberries for example can be purchase all year round in Australia because of our unique climate spread. Check the labels and ask where the produce comes from.
Supplier is the one I get most worked up over. Did you know that brands like Thomas Dux are actually Woolworths? Don’t you think that retailers like that should be forced to display their corporate ownership. Let me get one thing straight I have no problem buying toilet paper and deodorant and Wollies. However the market domination in this country is responsible for Australia paying the highest grocery prices ever. Find a local green grocer, introduce yourself and then start shopping locally. The big chains are crucifying our growers and producers. It is embarrassing.
So next time you shop remember these three simple S words and you will save money and get a better tasting bit of fruit and veg.