Jan 31, 2009

Seafood Guide on iPhone

I love seafood. I grew up on a tropical island with fresh sea or ocean-caught fish that one buys in a wet market. The uncomplicated choice of eating seafood has now (rightly) given way to so many health and sustainability concerns that I feel guilty purchasing seafood without knowing more. But it is a complicated issue. The answer to the question "is this fish sustainably harvested, and is it good for my health" vary by seafood type and seafood origin.

Sustainable seafood issues include:
  • mercury accumulation in the ocean food-chain, which plagues larger fish
  • overfishing
  • unsustainable farming practices

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an excellent handy pocket seafood guide (one per US region). I get them at green events but they always end up lost, no matter how many copy I replace (not very sustainable habit). I've never been able to conveniently refer to it when it is most needed (while seafood shopping or ordering seafood at a restaurant). Perhaps it is due to women clothings not having pockets... or... our pockets just being too full as it is!

The iPhone version is better because my iPhone is always with me. Tap on which US region you are in, then find the fish by name using a Contacts-like A-Z interface. On the left hand side of the list is a color-coded (yay!) summary:
. I like that it differentiate the rating for the same species based on origins (e.g. farmed vs. wild-caught, imported vs. U.S.), since there is no simple answer as to which category is better. It really depends on industry practice, and the interplay of a host of ecosystem factors. Also, get answers to your burning questions on the sustainability info of your favorite seafood and accompanying fishing practices by tapping on a fish name.

Like all my favorite iPhone app, the learning curve is short, and the information returned is actually useful for my life! Another time saver that actually lets me shop guilt-free and enjoy my seafood once again.

My wish list only has one item: that the app defaults to the last saved location or the current GPS location

This app is definitely at the top tier of useful iPhone app. The data is credible, and the information very pertinent to user needs.

Developer: The Monterey Bay Aquarium.


Compatibility: iPhone or iPod touch, with iPhone software v2.2 onwards. On other mobile devices, browse to

iPhone - a mini app paradise

I have always loved everything in bite-size. From small cookies (hey look - iPhone icon cookies found on Flickr) to pithy quotes to succinct framework, things in small doses are simple to use, and add flavor to life. Ever since iPhone brought mini apps into mainstream consciousness, my digital life has been a blast. In fact, I sense a tipping point in user demographic powered by mini apps, iPhone or not.

But those iPhone apps have to be the creme de la creme of mini apps. They are so addicting, with their cool graphics and the strangely comforting touch screen. They have helped me productively use the few spare minutes here and there -- whether to do something useful, or just plain fun. Until the iPhone came along, I never exchanged stories about computer games with girlfriends, and only played computer games couple hours a year. In the past few months, lo and behold, the girlfriends circle behavior shifted. Girls with iPhones are actually recommending cool apps (mostly games) to each other. I even sat next to a girl on a flight who played mini games on her iPhone for several hours! Girls on games. Is there a tipping point or what?

Which leads me to think... wouldn't it be great if the usability of iPhone mini apps is translated to sustainability?

iPhone apps are already proving helpful to make many day-to-day activities just a little better, and a little easier -- enough to become one's best friend in the pocket while on-the-go. You name it -- there is likely an app in its 15,000 strong arsenal that will step up to the plate to do a job. Or is there? How about sustainability?

This blog is dedicated to reviewing all those cool mini apps, iPhone or not, that could help us live us lives just a little more caringly towards humanity and the environment. We can't miss this opportunity to embed sustainability in this new trend. Please use them and spread the word of the reviews here.