Would you spend 12 hours in one room talking about the behemoth piece of legislation that is the U.S. farm bill? Two weekends ago, that’s exactly what 120 designers, food policy advocates, developers and marketing experts signed up to do when they joined creative forces to “hack” the farm bill.
During the hackathon, organized by Food + Tech Connect, participants worked together in person and via the web to produce five graphics and four web tools that address the myriad problems in our food system that the farm bill could improve. Renewed approximately every five years, the farm bill determines the funds given to land conservation programs, SNAP benefits (food stamps), crop commodities and rural development, among other titles. In short, it’s the backbone of the U.S. food system, but it is so convoluted and archaic that most people can’t understand it.
This is precisely why the infographics and web apps created during the hackathon are so impressive — they managed to take obtuse farm bill jargon and turn it into easy-to-understand graphics (some of which reveal truths about the food system you might wish you didn’t know). Not to mention they were all created in one day.
Below are three projects we loved:
1. FARM BILL of Health
The FARM BILL of Health project capitalized on everybody’s love of infographics. The team behind the presentation used straightfoward visuals to show the exorbitant amount of money the farm bill authorizes to subsidize commodity crops (like corn and soybeans) instead of specialty crops (like fruits and vegetables). Their simplicity earned them a well-deserved first prize. *The whole slideshow is embedded at the end of this post.
The site “meatlessly.com” received the second prize for promoting Meatless Mondays. Users who visit the site can submit recipes, share opinions about places to get meatless meals or discuss policy goals through tweets.
3. Farm Tab
Even the projects that didn’t win prizes are impressive. Farm Tab is a credit system that allows shoppers to pay farmers in advance and then carry credit with them when they shop in farmer’s markets or farm stands. Shoppers download the app to access their farmer’s tab through which they can buy goods at a discount or peruse the farmer’s inventory. The app will be available to download soon.