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Find local, in-season produce with new app

Finding fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables just got easier, thanks to an app developed by University of Missouri (MU) faculty and students. The free app, “Seasonal and Simple,” helps consumers find, choose, store and prepare fresh produce.

“In general, consumers are not eating enough fruits and vegetables,” said Cindy DeBlauw, dietitian and MU Extension associate. “The app provides consumers with practical information, such as recipes, that help people make great-tasting, healthy dishes and ultimately, live healthier lifestyles.”

The content for the app is based on the longstanding MU Extension publication of the same name. DeBlauw approached campus colleagues Dale Musser, associate teaching professor of computer science, and Mike McKean, director of professional programs for the MU School of Journalism, to see if students in their co-taught class could develop an app based on the material in the book.

“We decided to create the app in order to make the information more portable and easy-to-use when consumers make decisions about purchasing and preparing food,” DeBlauw said. “It was a great opportunity for the students to develop a product that would be used beyond the classroom.”

The class consisted of journalism students, who helped develop and edit content, and computer science and engineering students, who programmed the app.

In addition to overseeing the app’s development, Musser designed and built customized kiosks that will house iPads loaded with the app. The portable, ADA-compliant stands will travel to fairs and farmers markets throughout the state so consumers can access the app while they shop for produce.

Musser and DeBlauw say they hope to expand the app to include information about produce in other states, perhaps with the help of other states’ university extension services.

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