Product Review: The Rotten Fruit Box

The Rotten Fruit Box

It seems that I start a lot of my stories by stating that I bought something or ended up somewhere because of a post seen on social media. In the case of The Rotten Fruit Box, it’s no different. I saw a sponsored ad online and was intrigued enough by the premise and the offer to check it out.

What’s The Rotten Fruit Box, you ask? Tony, the founder of the company, was travelling in Portugal and Spain, visiting farmers, when he noticed a ton of fruit rotting on the ground. Speaking with them, he learned that these growers didn’t produce enough to compete with larger businesses. By the same token, they had too much fruit to consume everything on their own, which left a lot of wonderful, healthy food wasted.

The fruits come in resealable pouches with stickers listing the benefits. These are the fig packs I received.

He now works with them to pick and save as much of the in-season fruit as possible. To extend the shelf life, it was decided that freeze drying the flesh would be ideal. In that form, it could be packaged, sold and shipped in a convenient manner while keeping the product 100 per cent natural. All of the work The Rotten Fruit Box does follows their mission to help small farmers, reduce food waste, provide healthier snacks, and end world hunger (a portion of their proceeds goes towards organizations that fight this issue).

With a discount of 25 per cent off on my first order ($14.99 versus $19.99 USD), I decided to sign up for a box. It works on a subscription model, but you’re not obligated to purchase every single month and you’re not charged until you opt in. Therefore, if you don’t want boxes regularly, be sure to update your account. Future months can easily be skipped or service can be paused whenever you want. As soon as I registered, I just as quickly went into my settings to skip shipments past the month of December. I selected the Build Your Own Box option, which comes with four bags of fruit. My choices of the 16 or so options included the figs, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches.

The sticker on the box indicates it was shipped from the source in Portugal.

My first box was scheduled to be mailed out from Portugal in November. Even though The Rotten Fruit Box is based out of the United States, their product is shipped directly from the producer to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. I received an email noting that my package had been sent; however, there was no tracking information for that initial month (I was told later it had to manually be entered into all messages and they didn’t have the time to do that in November). With a postal strike in Canada, it made it worse. I didn’t receive that order until about mid-December, and, by that point, the next December box had already been mailed out and, miraculously, it also arrived right around the same time.

No matter though. I was patient enough. The November box was larger in size. The interior of the cardboard was prettily printed with a fruit design and The Rotten Fruit Box logo. It was simple, but still a little bit flashy. The individual bags of fruit have basic packaging of lined, resealable kraft paper, a white sticker on the front that indicates the type of fruit and another sticker on the back that includes info about the fruit, the weight of the fruit to be found inside and the best before date.

A complimentary bag of freeze dried fig bits.

Every bag seemed to have a yearlong best before date listed, so, by all accounts, I’d be fine as long as each one was consumed by November or December 2019. The individual pouches weighed in at between 22 to 25 grams. I’d guess that for the raspberries and strawberries that might work out to a pint of fresh store bought berries. For the peaches and figs, I’d say maybe it’d be equivalent to three or four full pieces of fruit for the former and about six or seven for the latter. In my November box, I was told that they didn’t have enough fig to fulfill my request (they did send me a pouch of fig bits to try though), so I swapped it out for the sour cherries. These are cut into smaller pieces, so I estimate that maybe there are two to three dozen cherries in a bag.

I’ve enjoyed every one of the fruits thus far, some more so than others. Particularly, I was already fond of the freeze dried organic strawberries because of cereals like Special K Red Berries. I found the raspberries to be somewhat tart and frustrating with the seeds. Not to say that it’s not the same when eating them fresh, but I feel like with less moisture and flesh, the freeze dried fruit adheres more to the teeth and the seeds end up getting stuck easier. Of course, it could just be a me thing. The figs have a somewhat interesting flavour when dried as they’re a little bit bitter and earthy (closer to the rind) before the sweetness kicks in from the center of the fruit. For the organic “sour” cherries, they’re not actually sour, but I’m not a huge fan of the texture. They’re less porous when dried, making them a little chewier and plastic. My favourite ended up being the peach slices. Larger pieces with a nice crunch and flavour.

A mix of my selected freeze dried fruits.

Honestly, I’m not sure how healthy freeze dried fruit truly is. All of the moisture is removed in order to preserve the flesh and stop bacterial growth. The drying is done during the fruit’s prime ripeness to retain the taste. But, are the nutrients still there? I’ll have to do further research. Still, it’s better than eating a candy bar when I have a craving for something sugary. My only wish is that they didn’t disappear so quickly. Approximately 25 grams of freeze dried fruit doesn’t last that long, especially if, for example, you intend to use them for toppings on yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.

Thankfully, shipping and handling is free of charge. But, with the exchange rate and the regular price of $19.99 USD for only four bags, it works out to $5 per pouch or about $6.50 CDN. I suppose it’s not so bad considering the support of a company that is trying to do their part in the world. Yet, it’s still quite pricey for what you get. I consider The Rotten Fruit Box subscription to be a treat. I won’t be getting it every single month, but I may do so periodically to get my fix of their delicious freeze dried fruits.

I Weigh: Learning to Love Who I Am and My Own Accomplishments

@i_weigh Instagram bio

Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial) is a British actress and model. Until she started her stint on The Good Place, I had no idea who she was. Statuesque and beautiful, she embodied her character, Tahani Al-Jamil, to perfection. Hilariously playing a wealthy, vapid philanthropist that did everything in her power to appease her parents in the shadow of her do no wrong sister, Jameela seemed to know a thing or two about portraying someone in that vein.

Turns out she’s far from being that sometimes insufferable person in real life. In fact, she’s an intelligent activist that is funny and gorgeous from the inside out. A few days before the official start of spring 2018, Jameela launched a page on Instagram called @i_weigh with a post that included several statements on how she perceived herself. What she wrote highlighted the positives in her life. It didn’t talk about her body or her looks and it certainly wasn’t focusing on the negatives or the things she couldn’t change.

Through the year, @i_weigh organically blossomed and continued to strive for the embodiment of what it represented. According to Jameela, it’s a “movement for us to feel valuable and see how amazing we are beyond the flesh on our bones.” Stigmas were taking a backseat while women and men were showing support for one another.

There wasn’t enough room on my photo for everything I wanted to say.

There are probably a number of things I missed in my own I Weigh photo, but I tried not to take myself so seriously as I did my best to remind myself of my worth. I was also honest with my “faults.” At a time of year when a large number of people make resolutions that are often related to outer appearance rather than inner growth, I think that @i_weigh is doing an excellent job of shedding light on the need for more self-acceptance and improvement on both mental and physical (for health reasons) levels.

This is how I choose to start 2019. Hopefully this post will serve as my prompt over the next 12 months to love me for me and all of the things I have already accomplished or will in the future.

Happy New Year everyone!

Edmonton Happenings: Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids

The stage at The Arden Theatre in St. Albert.

About two weeks ago, I dragged my fianc√© to the latest Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids (GRTTWaK) event in St. Albert. It was the second one I’d attended. The first was two years before at The Mercury Room in Edmonton. I was, and still am, just a listener though. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to get so personal with a room full of strangers.

My ticket into the event as an attendee.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the name of the event pretty much speaks for itself. However, to expand, this is essentially a ticketed touring open mic show run by Dan Misener and his wife Jenna. They’ve been doing this since 2007 after a Christmas trip the year before led them on a journey through Jenna’s old diaries and inspired them to gather friends to do the same. It’s now become a podcast hit with recordings made live during dates that are frequently scheduled across the country.

Grownup

Locals in each city they visit sign up to go on stage for about 5 minutes per person to read something from their past. It could be anything from a short story to a poem, or a letter to a class assignment, or something from one’s journal. Those who enroll have to check in with Dan and Jenna before the big day, so they get a sneak peek of what’s to come. Nevertheless, watching Dan react to each person’s share, I could tell he was just as surprised and delighted as the audience was whenever those big “oh my god” moments happened.

Admittedly though, GRTTWaK isn’t my first foray into this world of teenage and childhood artifacts. In fact, I became obsessed with the film Mortified Nation when I saw it on Netflix a few years back (they now have a Netflix series called The Mortified Guide). The premise was pretty much the same. Yet, the founder of Mortified, David Nadelberg, was based out of the United States and launched his similar endeavour in 2002. I loved it so much that I wanted to be the one to bring it north of the border.

Little did I know that Dan Misener already beat me to the punch. It was my friend who introduced me to GRTTWaK, which really doubled my fun when it came to hearing these stories of adolescent horrors, gut wrenching heartbreak, true happiness, etc. that almost everyone can relate to whether or not they realized it when they were younger.

I guess that’s the irony of it. Things always seemed like such a huge deal as kids. We blew things out of proportion and we assumed we were the only ones to be feeling the way we did. More than likely though, our neighbour or our friend was experiencing it, too. It shows us how caught up in ourselves we can become, but I also think that we sometimes have a depth that goes beyond our years. Many of the things people have shared are so insightful and introspective. Others are lighthearted and hilarious.

What I do think is important to remember is that, whatever it is we have in our history, whether it’s good or bad, we’ve come through it. We can look back and learn from our pasts and, hopefully, we can have a chuckle at it as well.

I definitely recommend that if you’re located in Canada, register for the GRTTWaK newsletter. You won’t get a ton of emails. You’ll just be looped in on upcoming events that you can attend. Also, be sure to check out the podcast. It’s available through their website, Spotify, Apple, or Google. While each episode of the Mortified podcast delves deep into the share of a single individual (even doing a follow-up with the reader who provides a bit of extra discussion about their story), GRTTWaK episodes are usually about 25 to 35 minutes long and cover multiple brave souls in one sitting. It can lead to a roller coaster of emotions, but it’s worth the ride.

Check out this GRTTWaK episode, posted on August 27, 2017 where my friend Michelle decided to read an original story she penned about a horse family:

https://art19.com/shows/grownups-read-things-they-wrote-as-kids/episodes/883b32c2-7483-4bb7-8048-7c7c87fd0f9b/embed?theme=light-custom

If you’re interested in hearing an episode from Mortified, listen to this one about Amy, a first generation kid, growing up in America:

https://play.prx.org/e?uf=http:%2F%2Ffeeds.getmortified.com%2FMortifiedPod&gs=_blank&sp=all

Time’s Up: Is 2018 the year of meaningful change?

The Time’s Up statement as posted on their @timesupnow Instagram page.

It’s a brand new year. Instead of starting it off by doing the same old thing on this blog, I felt like this would be a great opportunity to share a few of my thoughts about an increasingly important topic.

I first heard of the¬†Time’s Up¬†movement when I was sitting at home on January 1. As I scrolled through the feed on the Instagram search page, I noticed a number of posts from my favourite celebrities where they each shared the same letter of solidarity to their “sisters” (scroll down for the full post).

Then, on Sunday night, the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony was aired on television. Before I took the time to watch the recording of the show, I happened upon pictures posted to social media of the fashion choices at the event. Photo after photo popped up of all of these females in the entertainment industry dressed in black. It was far from the usual colourful parade, so I questioned what I was seeing. I wasn’t aware that this was something that they had planned back in December, but they did. What the world saw that evening was a sea of gorgeous women that varied in age and ethnicity coming together to make a big statement.

This comes after the huge upheaval that Hollywood has been experiencing whereby women seem to have finally taken a stand. They have found their voices and they are feeling empowered.¬†Time Magazine¬†essentially picked the #MeToo movement (a.k.a. The Silence Breakers) as it’s “person” of the year.

Tarana Burke, the creator of the Me Too movement, was showcases on the @time Instagram page.

This show of comradery at an annual industry celebration apparently worked to change the conversation. No longer were actresses being asked what they were wearing on the red carpet. Instead, they were creating a dialog, talking about the reason behind their choice to participate in this movement and, for the first time in a long time, pulling the focus away from the relative artificiality of these typically self-congratulatory parties.

A few women chose to wear colours other than black. Obviously, they stood out like sore thumbs, seemingly out of sync with everyone else. However,¬†their reasoning¬†had validity, so I don’t fault them for anything. Plus, it’s not doing us any service to pit women against other women. They all stated their support for the movement and the women who chose to wear black. If anything, we have to question why this is even a necessary thing for women to have to do. Woman should be able to express themselves in whatever way they choose. It shouldn’t take an army of them dressed in the same hue to get their message across.

Posted to the @timesupnow Instagram page on Sunday.

On the other side of things, it may also seem like these women were just a bunch of rich, privileged celebrities removed from regular society who decided to speak on behalf of those who may be more marginalized. Yet, I still have to give them props because they understood the value of a global platform and they utilized that stage to share their voices and the voices of other disenfranchised women. If these actresses are using their fame for something good that will benefit the many, I say it’s okay.

Some of the actresses and activists that took part on Sunday. Photo screenshot from the @timesupnow Instagram page.

Most memorable during the ceremony was Oprah. She received the Cecil B. Demille award, an accolade which has existed for the past 66 years. Over that period of time, only 15 have been handed out to women and this was the first given to a woman of colour.

Oprah’s speech was a rousing one that had everyone talking the next day.¬†She eloquently spoke to the crowd and the audience watching and it really did make me hope that she’d run for President one day. Let’s hope that Seth Meyers’ cajoling during his opening monologue actually convinces her to do so.

What’s sad is the discussion my friend and I had the following day though. While we both love the idea of Oprah running for the presidency, she is both a woman and someone of colour. Those two things have traditionally been deterrents for many American people. Despite Oprah’s ability to overcome adversity, her poise and intelligence, her generosity and her business savvy, it’s possible that the odds would still be stacked against her. In this day and age, it’s pretty depressing to think about the fact that having two X chromosomes and a different skin tone are the reasons to hold someone of that magnitude back.

Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Time’s Up movement and these outspoken women of celebrity help to spur this burgeoning revolution. These are conversations that are worthy of our time and they should spread like wild fire because it’s the 21st century. Women and minorities should no longer be seen as second-class citizens. We should all be considered true equals.

Upcoming Event: 124 Street Red Shoe Crawl on Sept 10

Tiramisu Bistro on 124 Street. Photo from: 124street.ca

Tiramisu Bistro on 124 Street. Photo from: 124street.ca

I was recently told about¬†the upcoming Red Shoe Crawl taking place¬†in the 124 Street District¬†of Edmonton on Saturday, September 10.¬†From what I’ve learned, this is the second year where 124 Street will play host to the event.

If you’ve never heard of the Red Shoe Society, it consists of a network of community leaders who band together to volunteer for and host events where they raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities¬†Northern Alberta (RMHCNA).

Registrants who purchase a $35 pass ($15 kids tickets and adult 4-packs for $120 are also available) will be welcomed at about two dozen¬†participating businesses along 124 Street. Culinary delights will be served at each venue, allowing patrons¬†to snack while they explore. The various shops and restaurants in the area may also be offering special one-day deals. Passports will be handed out to everyone to ensure they don’t miss any of the vendors, including Duchess Bake Shop, Carbon Environmental Boutique, Miss Boss Handbags & Accessories, Table Top Cafe, Ascendant Books¬†and many more.

In addition, tickets for raffle prizes and a 50/50 draw will be sold.

Not only is this a fantastic way to support the RMHCNA, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to shop local. 124 Street has had a tough go over the last couple of years. With the temporary closure of the 102 Avenue bridge cutting off one of the main entry ways into the area, the majority¬†of businesses saw a decline in visitors. Now that the bridge is once again open and the Red Shoe Crawl will be raising money in the district, there’s really no excuse not to go.

Tickets for this event can be purchased here: http://rssnaredshoecrawl.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1162884.

Get excited by checking out a video of 2015’s Red Shoe Crawl below!