This App Would Tell You the Brutal Truth About Your Groceries

ValueMe, developed by MIT students, would give you a nutritional receipt for your purchase.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a dietitian who would accompany you to the grocery store whenever you wanted, for free? That scenario’s just wishful thinking, but two MIT Sloan School of Management students are on their way to creating a worthy alternative.

Tomasz Grzegorczyk and Malena Gonzalez are behind a program called ValueMe, an app that would give grocery shoppers a nutritional receipt for their purchase. An algorithm would parse through data from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database, assessing the nutritional value of each item in the shopper’s cart. The app would then determine if a shopper’s haul lacks any key nutrients, minerals, or food groups, and send the final analysis to his or her app.

“[You] will receive a nutrition snapshot of everything that you purchased and it will analyze if there are components or nutrients that are missing in your diet,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “This provides, at the point of sale, education for consumers on how healthy they’re eating.”

ValueMe is still in its beta stages, but it just won $15,000 from MIT’s IDEAS Global Challenge, a social entrepreneurship contest. With that money, the team plans to start a pilot program with a grocery store in Philadelphia.

Eventually, the hope is to integrate the app with grocery store registers nationwide—which means the end of convincing yourself Ben & Jerry’s fro-yo is basically a health food.