TeakOrigin Shows Our Nutritional Reality

 In Blog Post
woman-handling-apples

Are you getting the nutrition you pay for?

We are what we eat, right? So we know that choosing healthy fruits and vegetables for ourselves and our families is important. We try to parse complex labels quickly as we’re racing through a grocery store before dinner, we shake, sniff, squeeze, and examine produce before we put it in our cart, we wait until an avocado is ripe before we eat it, we want an apple with that just-right tartness. For the most part, we choose our fruits and vegetables with our senses — sight, touch, smell, sound and taste — and, secondarily, we rely on labels.

But are our senses correct? Are the labels we check accurate? Are you getting what you pay for?

Why We Built TeakOrigin

The team at TeakOrigin aims to make sure that you are getting what you pay for. We’re a data company founded on the idea of increasing information and transparency about food and global food systems. Our leadership team is composed of experts from diverse fields, including data science, spectroscopy, nutrition policy, chemical engineering and more. The one thing that we’re equally enthusiastic about is nutrition. Teak was formed to help you make better food decisions based on what’s inside your food.

How ya’ like them apples?

Did you know that an apple is not the same as any other apple? Two identical ripe Honeycrisp apples, sourced from the same orchard, picked at the same time on the same day, and shipped in the same manner, may not have the same nutritional value. In fact, the vitamins and minerals in one apple may widely diverge from the apple resting next to it.

For example, the USDA claims that a standard apple contains 4.6mg of vitamin C. In TeakOrigin tests, we’ve discovered apples in the same bin with as much as 9mg of Vitamin C and as little as 1.25 mg. With bananas, the USDA expects an average of 358mg of potassium per piece of fruit. Our tests, though, have found that bananas regularly have less than the USDA average, as little as 270mg of potassium.

As individuals, we make more than 200 food decisions every day. Imagine what this means for nutrition if they are all inaccurate.

Food Chain

Until recently, the complexity and speed of the global supply chain made it impossible to accurately measure food’s nutrition at scale. The USDA scale, mentioned above, is largely based on the physical appearance of food, which isn’t a reliable marker of internal nutrients. Additionally, these metrics were randomly performed decades ago and so don’t take into account changes in growing patterns, soil quality, new varieties, etc…

TeakOrigin data scientists have devised metrics to determine the actual nutritional value of fresh foods on every rung of the supply chain. Our team translates each food’s particular chemical signature into a digital model that is used to measure and score each nutrient at speeds and costs that are scalable for the food retail industry.

Every week, we collect nutrition data at top US supermarkets such as Costco, Whole Foods, and Stop & Shop. We currently measure 8 fruits: apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, grapes (both green & red), spinach, strawberries, and multiple varieties of tomatoes.

Our first goal is to understand how society’s perceptions of what they eat diverges from the nutritional reality.

Taking the measure

To do that, TeakOrigin set out to aggregate nutritional density data from 10,000 plus foods per month. We ended up with the most current reference for nutrition in the US and built an easily searchable framework that more accurately represents the nutrition in food that people and businesses purchase and eat each month.

Information is to be shared, and our dataset is intended to help food retailers and producers to answer questions on nutritional quality. Businesses can query the database for specific questions relevant to the operations, and, more broadly, we’ll share key findings in the TeakOrigin Guide slated to be released in January 2021.

We want everyone to know what they eat.

Under the skin 

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In grocery stores everywhere today, consumers and businesses make decisions about produce based on what they believe they are getting, not what they are actually getting. What’s the reality though? We believe that consumers and businesses deserve to know what they’re paying for. TeakOrigin combines our team’s scientific rigor with the behavioral realities of how people choose. Are you getting what you pay for? We’ll help you find out.

Interested in learning about the nutritional reality of the food you buy and sell?