Could blockchain be the answer to food traceability?

Blockchain, bitcoin, big data, etc. You might bundle all these words together and think that this technology is beyond what you’ll ever need or see used in the marketplace. But when it comes to knowing where your food comes from and how it was grown, blockchain food traceability is the future.

I farm in McLeansboro, IL and I can tell you that farmers aren’t new to data – in fact, we crunch numbers on a daily basis. Data helps us farm smarter and more sustainably. We are doing more with less every day and we constantly monitor the impact of our work on soil and water quality. Having this data means we can more aptly protect our natural resources for generations to come. Blockchain data in particular helps farmers give the entire food chain access to information about how food is grown – it’s digital transparency like we’ve never seen before.


Blockchain is a way to connect people from farm to fork through data tracking technology. Using a blockchain food traceability system, a grocery store, food supplier or manufacturer can quickly and easily trace food back to its point of origin. Here’s how:

Blockchain is a traditional accounting ledger on steroids. This system logs transactions digitally and in a verifiable, permanent way. Blockchain can track things like the transfer of money or goods, or even certain activities. For example, if tillage was performed by a specific piece of equipment in a specific field, blockchain could track, verify and log it permanently. Once this is done, it cannot be changed or erased and is posted to the ledger for any user to access.

Blockchain food traceability

The ledger can be accessed through the blockchain website. By visiting, anyone can look up transactions made through blockchain technology. You could be walking through the grocery store and look up an item’s origin the same way you do with coupons before checkout!

Changing how we farm

Leaders in the agriculture industry are researching how blockchain could be used in production agriculture to benefit Illinois farmers like me. Blockchain is already using farm records to help make sure farmers get paid for their products and that customers understand what they’re buying. Right now, the most well-known example of a company using blockchain is Walmart, who is tracking their mangos from the farm to the store in a matter of seconds. Another example could be a grain company tracking a shipment of soybeans from the U.S. to China.

Rubenacker Family Farm

For consumers, it boils down to transparency. Everyone is curious about where their food comes from and how it impacts their plate. Blockchain food traceability enables consumers to go to the store, pick up their food and trust where their food was grown and if it was produced in the way it claims to be – potentially even discovering the farmer that grew the product.

If you thought that blockchain was beyond you, think again. Technology is revolutionizing agriculture, and consumers will enjoy the benefits just as much as we do.

Rick Rubenacker

About Rick

I grow crops with my family near McLeansboro, IL. I have a passion for science and conservation.

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