Would you let a man who created a piece of furniture called the "scum chair" anywhere near your food? I would, as long as the man is design engineering student Hannes Harms from the Royal College of Art in London.
Harms has hatched a concept called NutriSmart that melds the tracking power of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags with the yumminess of Twinkies, Cheez Wiz, or just about any other food product you can imagine. The edible tags could hold information about where the food was grown or shipped from, what the ingredients are, how far it has traveled, and what the nutritional content is.
The NutriSmart prototype includes a smart plate that reads the RFID tags in the food. It can tell you how many calories it is costing you (150 for that Twinkie) and how it stacks up nutritionally in your diet.
Harms imagines a kitchen with a smart refrigerator that tells you when your milk is going sour or that it's time to replace that aging bottle of ketchup you haven't touched in a year. It could also be used to alert allergy sufferers when a potentially dangerous ingredient is present.
RFID has already found many uses, some mundane and some more inventive. RFID tags are used widely for inventory tracking, and they keep tabs on hospital patients, schoolchildren, and even high-tech ski lift tickets.
When it comes to food, I can also imagine walking around with an RFID reader to see what people have been munching on for lunch. It could add a whole new dimension to social networking for foodies.