Finding Food on the Web
Why is so difficult to find food items for sale on the web? There are a number of obstacles to uncovering sources of interesting food items.
Let's begin with the more apparent problems. Suppose you want to find someone who sells ramps, a type of wild leeks. You know what will happen if you Google ramps. You will get many hits for ramps that are not food items, but rather inclined planes. This sort of problem is helped if you add adjectives and search for fresh ramps or wild ramps. Another possibility is to search with synonyms, like wild leeks or wild onions.
If you successfully narrow the search to food items, the next hurdle is to get to vendors who sell the item, rather than articles describing and defining the item. recipes featuring the item, YouTube videos of people eating the items, or bloggers describing how they enjoyed it in their childhood. For example, searching with Google for lutefisk, Scandinavian preserved cod, provides interesting articles about lutefisk, but no immediate source for the product. A manufacturer is on the first page of hits, but the first retail web vendor is the 109th hit, on the 11th page of the Google search. You must read the 108 entries on the way to identifying the 109th as a web seller. This problem can sometimes be relieved by searching for buy lutefisk or buy lutefisk online. However, we often like to locate two or three sources for a product in order to compare price, product features, and shipping policies, and to increase the odds of someone having it in stock. That means going to even more remote hits.
To find a product, it is better to know that a particular site is likely to feature the product, then go to that site and look for it. So how do you find a likely site in the first place? One approach is to back up a level. To find lutefisk, instead search for Scandinavian food. The site constructor is likely to have put the key words Scandinavian food in the home page. The broader term is likely to get more hits, so it will appear sooner in the search. Then visiting the likely sites and searching for lutefisk may yield the item. That works for lutefisk.
Doing a Google search may bring up ads for exactly the item being sought. Clicking through, however, may yield an opening video, followed by a home page, an index page, a sub-index page, and finally the actual item you are seeking. In fact, the sought-after item may be many levels deep. If you are hungry for lutefisk, or whatever, that may be frustrating. By providing a link to the home page, vendors are then free to rework the indexing scheme of their site without ruining the referenced link. Also, it follows the Las Vegas principle of locating the restaurant as far as possible from the main entrance to the casino, so you will have to walk past as many slot machines as possible before you get to where you want to go.
We think that it works the other way. If we lead you to tea seed oil or civet coffee on a site, we think you are likely to wonder what other interesting things they have. You can then go up by clicking home or oils, or whatever, to shop further. This does leave the problem of vendors scrambling their indexing scheme and ruining the direct link. That creates a maintenance problem for us. Please let us know when you encounter that problem, so we can straighten out the link. In the short run, you might want to try shortening the referenced URL to just the www.sitename.com part to get to the site's home page. If you are hankering for fresh yak ribs, there is no waiting for us to fix the link. Another thing that happens is that a vendor goes out of business, someone buys the site name, and then loads it with nothing but Google ads. There is nothing illegal with that, but it frustrates our purposes of giving you direct links to products.
There are tens of thousands of food products on the web. If we could index them all, the index would be so large that it would be difficult to use and no fun at all to browse. We index according to the unscientific process of picking what seems interesting to us, and what we think might be interesting to our users. If we don't list what you are looking for, you might try looking for a product in the same genre, for example a different type of fresh fish from the same locale. You might also look for other items typical of the ethnic or regional cuisine.
We do sell advertising on our site. That has to do with staying alive. However, we don't sell the links in the main index. The indexed links are based on our highly peculiar personal judgment of what will interest our users. We are associated with amazon.com, and if you go through our site to get to any product on amazon, we will benefit. No need to stop at buying that jar of honey, get the flat-screen TV while you shop there. We hope our ads will be interesting too, but those are separated and, usually, placed in the rightmost column. The principle is that people want ads that interest them, but don't want ads that don't interest them. That's a tough line to walk.
We would like to hear you comments. Contact us through our Help Us page.