The food industry is perpetually evolving, and the advent of new technology has only made food-related business grow faster than ever before. There are hundreds of food-related apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android app markets, the blog world is exploding with foodie writers, and it seems like you never know where the next great food idea is going to come from! Here's a list of five great food startups to keep an eye on this year. 1. Cocomama Foods - Founded by Sara Gragnolati, this Boston-based startup makes tasty, gluten-free quinoa cereal that is packed with lots of protein in flavors like wild blueberry and banana-cinnamon. Gragnolati came up with the idea for the company after she was diagnosed with a gluten allergy in 2008 but found there was a serious lack of gluten-free breakfast cereals on the market that satisfied her cravings. Cocomama's first line of products launched in March 2011 and plans are in the works to create more delicious options for allergy-free eating.
2. Real Time Farms - This crowd-sourced foodie website is focused on showcasing local and sustainable eating options based on location. It features a farmers' market finder, a food source guide that profiles farms and the people who help run them, and a restaurant locator to help foodies locate ethical eateries. Farmers, artisans, and chefs are all welcome to join to develop profiles and post photos - the site features over 10,000 photos of farms and markets all around the country!
3. Foodspotting - Founded by three food-lovers, Foodspotting is a photo-based social network that allows users to search for great dishes in their area through photographs submitted by users. You can vote up dishes that you've tried and loved through the "Nom it!" button, as well as explore cities and neighborhoods through guides developed by the Travel Channel and GrubStreet - I even have a couple of guides on the site. Foodspotting also has a mobile app for iPhone and Android.
4. Gojee - This new web-based recipe app is different from any other you've experienced - it takes what you have in your pantry and provides you with delicious recipes developed and tested by experienced food bloggers, complete with drool-worthy photos of each dish. You can even link your grocery store rewards card to your Gojee account and it will automatically upload your purchases to the site. Some of their unique featured recipes include Bacon-Pimento Cheese Bread and Adobo Grilled Pork with Esquite Stuffed Onions.
5. GrubWithUs - Eating has always been a social activity. GrubWithUs combines that concept with the technology of social networking and provides users with a platform to meet up over food. The website organizes location-based meals each week at a variety of restaurants; users pay in advance for a family-style menu that features several dishes meant to be shared between diners. It's a great way to meet new friends and try new food at the same time, and it's an especially useful tool for people who just moved to a new city and want to find a favorite food hangout.