I am not a geek, but I am married to one. Further, hailing from Leamington, the Tomato Capital of Canada, I do know a few things about tomatoes.
At the recent ANA/Brand Activation conference in Chicago, we advertising lawyers were inundated with all things blockchain. At that point, it became evident that this technology was not just going to apply to Bitcoin, gaming, and finance, but the concept of the blockchain will undoubtedly have applications across a multitude of sectors, including agriculture and the entire Food & Beverage sector.
According to a recent article in the Montreal Gazette, a blockchain-based solution is currently being tested on tomatoes to track sweetness and saltiness, pH levels and origin.
You may still be asking what exactly a blockchain is. In its simplest form, as explained by experts, a blockchain stores blocks of information in a linked chain that is identical across a connected network of databases, which are constantly validated and transparent. Instead of information being stored in one centralized hub that can be susceptible to attack, each connected node in the network stores all the information blocks in the chain.
In the agricultural application, being able to validate data through multiple nodes ensures that organic tomatoes are in fact "organic,” or that the Leamington tomatoes actually make it into your ketchup. The extension to sustainable farming will also help ethical companies track their ingredients to ensure they can validate their marketing claims of using key ingredients sourced only from sustainable sources or other claims such as "non-GMO".
Blockchain-based technology is also being increasingly used to validate food safety and trace contaminants in a matter of seconds, thus preventing further spread of foodborne illness.
So the next time you see an article on the blockchain, instead of mentally allocating it in the compartment for geeks and financiers, consider the opportunities and endless applications that may be coming to your own industry sector soon.