Imagine, if you will, a small food market with about 200 items, including the staples: milk, fresh produce, eggs, bread and toiletries. Instead of cashiers, stock personnel and managers, however, shoppers order via a screen and all products are delivered to a pick up window via robotics, and you pay for your groceries via an electronic point-of-sale device.
This may sound like some sort of sci-fi dystopia where humans rely on robots to get their food, but the reality is more akin to a giant vending machine. And Eat Greater Des Moines, a local non-profit focused on enhancing the local food scene in central Iowa, sees it as an avenue for improving access to healthy food and necessities in a neighborhood that doesn't have enough. The organization plans to approach the city's Plan and Zoning Commission in July to bring a 26-square-foot automated store to the Polk County Health Department parking lot.
Created by Oasis24seven, the automated shop will be bulletproof with surveillance cameras to protect its stock. Ok, so maybe that sounds a bit dystopian, but the real benefit lies in the fact that the shop can provide fresh produce and foods to a historically underserved community without needing to pay employees to watch over the store.
Zoning commission members have been excited, according to Aubrey Alvarez, head of Eat Greater Des Moines: "I think a lot of people are excited to see it up and running, and to see if it's going to work." She also intends to pass the project along to a local grocery business if the concept proves successful.
Supermarkets have already adopted self-payment kiosks, and as we've seen in the past year, from robotic farming to drone-assisted agriculture, the food industry is becoming more and more embroiled in emerging technology. Do you think a project like this could lead to a revolution around the country?
[Editor's note: OFW Law Principal Attorney Michael J. O'Flaherty provided this blog piece regarding the need for federal oversight regarding the ongoing trend of class action lawsuits filed against food companies regarding product labeling.]read more
Chris focuses on fresh, canned and frozen fruit and fresh and dried vegetables for the Food Institute Report. In addition, he assists in compiling data for various Food Institute publications throughout the year. He is a proud Rutgers University alumnus with a degree in English, and has a background in web writing for a variety of industries, including legal, foodservice and small-to-medium sized businesses. In his downtime you can find him watching New York Yankees baseball, hiking, enjoying live music and spending time with his dog Kaiden. He invites you to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about anything food-related.
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