Blockchain technology may help the food make it to your table safer

The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention of Satoshi Nakamoto, which is the name used by the unknown person or people who developed bitcoin, authored the bitcoin white paper, and created and deployed bitcoin’s original reference implementation. But since then, it has evolved into something greater, and it is expanding it use to other markets.

So, what is Blockchain? Well it is a distributed database.  So lets imagine a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.

Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, this means that the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt and since it is hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.

By allowing digital information to be distributed, but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.

Imagine that while you were at the grocery store and shopping for fresh produce, you could scan a product and its entire history, from the moment it was harvested, all the way to your local grocery store on your smartphone.

That’s just one of the many ways that companies are planning to use blockchain technology within the food industry using this powerful technology to document the origins of the food that we eat, and even, potentially, help trace the origins of and limit the effect of contamination outbreaks.

The hope is that once the source of an illness outbreak has been identified, blockchain technology could speed up the process of tracking the origin of the contamination. Additionally, because of its comparatively transparent nature, it would push suppliers at every step of the chain to be more accountable.

But the major challenge would be to get a food growers, processors, distributors, and retailers to invest in the blockchain solutions to successfully implement this kind of tracking system.

By Jamie Barrie