How to Get a Home-Cooked Meal Anywhere in the World - page 4 | Innovation | Smithsonian
In less than a year, MealSharing.com has built a community that spans 400 cities worldwide. (© Craig Lovell/Corbis)

How to Get a Home-Cooked Meal Anywhere in the World

Jay Savsani describes his early success with MealSharing.com, a website that connects tourists with locals offering a free meal

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(Continued from page 3)

It is kind of hard not to like the merging of food and travel. I am sure there are some people out there that would like to seek out more traditional forms of spending their time. Though, we do hope that in the near future we become the norm.

Some people might be concerned about safety. Trust and safety are extremely important for sharing economy websites. For Mealsharing.com, we have implemented industry standard safety precautions (phone number verification, Facebook Connect). One important component is the review system. We allow members to review each other after a meal. The review is not about a critique about the person's cooking, but more about how they are as a person. That way other Meal Sharers are able to confidently go to a meal. We also have a commenting system so people are able to chat before the meal and learn everything they would like about the person.  

Personally, I meal share all the time. I either host or go to Meal Sharer's home two to three times a week. It has been a great way of meeting people here in Chicago and abroad. When hosting, I usually make West Coast Indian Food (Gujarati food) since my family is from India. I have hosted people traveling all the way from Switzerland to a neighbor a few blocks down the road from me.

I also just went on a three-week road trip across the eastern part of the U.S. with the rest of the MealSharing.com team. We shared a meal every day, sometimes twice a day. We basically only ate through MealSharing.com and stayed with friends or Airbnb. It was a great way to meet our community. 

Who will be most affected by this idea?

I get an email a day from a Meal Sharer somewhere in the world saying how much they love meal sharing, but also, most importantly, how it has changed their life. The greatest effects we have seen are for the people who say they don't cook but end up becoming prolific hosts on MealSharing.com. The benefits of home cooking are endless. If more people cook at home and share it with other people, then we are helping people live healthier, more connected lives. 

How might it change life, as we know it?

Our goal in the next few years is to allow people to point to anywhere on the map and be welcomed to a home-cooked meal. When we reach that level of critical mass, the world will have changed for the better. 

What questions are left unanswered?

The sharing economy is still in its infancy—what is next definitely depends on a lot of factors. The next time there is an emergency, like Hurricane Sandy in New York City, for example, could people in the Meal Sharing community step up and help? Something as simple as a meal can mean the world to someone during hard times. 

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