Food Finder App Helps Fair Goers Make Healthier Choices

AMES, Iowa ― The Iowa State Fair offers fair goers a huge bounty of food choices for 11 days, with many options available fried, on a stick, or a combination of both. But fair goers looking for healthier alternatives, or who want to track their calories and activity to balance their day, can turn to a new app available for the iPhone and as a mobile website.

“The Iowa State Fair is well-known for the large variety of food it has to offer. This presents a great opportunity to promote the philosophy of the Healthiest State Initiative,” said Ruth Litchfield, associate professor and state nutrition extension specialist at Iowa State University. “We hope the interest in all the state fair foods available will entice fair goers to learn a bit more about the food they choose and how their choices influence the need for physical activity.”

The Food Finder app was developed by the Des Moines Register and sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, in support of the Healthiest State Initiative. The app builds upon the Des Moines Register’s mobile website from last year and adds nutrition information and healthy events provided by the ISU Extension and Outreach team.

The app features a range of useful information for all fair goers, including:

  • Food tab – find vendors who carry specific items, look up nutrition information, or filter foods by healthy choices or “on-a-stick” items.
  • Vendors tab – find vendor locations on the Iowa State Fair map, and look up menus for the vendors.
  • Healthy Fare tab – search for healthy foods and events, calculate physical activity needed to burn calories or find pedometers on the App Store to track your walking at the fair.
  • Events tab – peruse the full list of fair events or filter to those supporting the Healthiest State Initiative, and add them to your iPhone’s calendar.

Vendor, menu and event data were provided by the Iowa State Fair, and will be updated during the fair as needed. Nutrition data were pulled together by the ISU Extension and Outreach team based on estimated common fair food portions using the USDA national database, ESHA research and industry data.

“Even though the Iowa State Fair only occurs 11 days out of the year, helping consumers understand the importance of their food choices relative to nutrition and caloric expenditure is an ongoing need,” Litchfield said. “We hope that fair-goers enjoy using the app while at the fair, but also learn a bit more about how to balance their calories in and calories out.”

Download the Food Finder app to discover all the fair has to offer for food, including healthier choices.