Twitter Feeding Your World

Amazingly, one in eight Americans is still 'food insecure' which means they don't have enough of it to feel like they can be sure where the next meal is coming from. Forty thousand food banks exist in the U.S., but most aren't well known.

And on the other side of it, many Americans throw away masses of food. In some places, health regulations make it harder for leftover food to get officially donated. But it seems like the power of the net and social networking should be able to help skirt some of this issue.

At the most basic level, let's say you are having a big party or event. Halfway through, you realize you've got too many cheese cubes, celery sticks and tortilla chips (and not enough beer). Sending a tweet from your cell phone to followers about the extra food swag should mean that dumpster divers and freegans of all stripes can be alerted by Twitter to come and pick up the bonanza of goodies.

Secret Freegan has the right idea -- she has rescued over $40,000 of discarded food grocery stores won't donate due to liability issues and turned it over to the needy. Twitter could help keep these networks connected.

Fast food restaurants, suffering in these whatever-they-are economic times, have really tapped into social networks to give away food and drum up new biz. Quiznos gave away a million subs in three days as part of a promotion; Kentucky Fried Chicken did a similar promo.

Social networking and restaurants are a logical match, says Reggie Bradford, CEO of social media marketing consultancy Virtue, in Marketing Daily. "Food is naturally social. This is translating to online conversations around restaurant brands. We've seen tremendous adoption of social media strategies among QSRs and fast-casual restaurants."

Isn't it time to spread that success to the community food movement?

Veggie Trader is just one of a handful of new web sites developed to link farmers, growers, and victory gardeners with eaters. Oooby (Out of Our Own Backyards) is another social network site dedicated to connecting locavores with their sources.Freecycle and even Craigslist have been a fantastic boon to the reuse/recycle movement, and now it seems like we need to pull tools like Twitter into the mix to make sharing that most basic gift - good food - easier.