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.

ZOZO Product Review: The New Age of Custom-Fit Clothing

ZOZO Facebook Ad

Around mid-August of last year, I was faced with a post on my Facebook news feed from a company called ZOZO. Similar to many ads, they were offering their product for free. Unlike most, there didn’t seem to be a catch. It was also something that was much more intriguing than a cheaply made pair of earrings or a necklace.

ZOZO was launched by Yusaku Maezawa, the founder of ZOZOTOWN, Japan’s largest fashion e-commerce destination. Rather than selling clothing from other brands, ZOZO was developed to target the issue of sizing within the industry by bringing custom-fit clothing to the masses. They don’t look at their customers as standards that fit specific sizes dictated by them. Their technology is meant to measure our bodies precisely, so that our apparel fits our unique shapes.

I decided to take a chance, and I pressed the link. The registration I filled out online prompted an email with further instructions, including the requirement of downloading the ZOZO app from Google Play and creating an account. As it turns out, this was considered by the company to be a short term “sweepstakes” and, if I was lucky enough to be picked, I would receive a confirmation and an estimate for the receipt of my ZOZOSUIT.

A few days later, I learned that my efforts were successful. I would be getting a ZOZOSUIT with the arrival date to be determined. It took approximately another three weeks before I heard anything. The suit finally made it to me within the first week of October and I went through the exercise of measuring myself shortly after.

My ZOZOSUIT was mailed to me with a size chosen based on my height and weight.

The ZOZOSUIT is made out of a nylon/polyester/spandex mix (if it’s not too warm or itchy for you, they might make great pajamas). It comes with a pair of pants and a long sleeve top that has a slight turtleneck and thumb holes. It’s basically meant to cover every square inch of your body with dots that are then scanned by their app.

I experienced some troubles with this program. The app can be a little bit finicky as you need to place your phone (back camera facing towards you) on a stand that is set somewhere about table height and at least six inches away from the counter ledge. Initially, it was difficult to find a spot that was bright and spacious enough for the phone’s camera to read what was around it. You then have to back away about six feet. If all goes well, the app will proceed to speak to you through voice commands. Photos will be taken of you in consecutive positions until you’ve hit all twelve numbers as you imagine yourself turning atop the face of a clock. My first attempt actually seemed fine until the app attempted to process everything and then spit out an error message.

On the second try, it worked. Using a series of a dozen images, the system amalgamated all of the data and it calculated the enormity of my hips, the stoutness of my inseam, and put me in denial as to just how big my waist had become. Personally, I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw. Mostly, I couldn’t fathom that my right thigh was a whole ten centimeters larger in diameter than my left one. Therefore, I did what any other sane user would do. I proceeded to let the app take my measurements three more times. To be honest, I’m amazed that I wasn’t curled up in a corner crying by the end. I still wasn’t fully convinced that it had the right numbers, but the later digits were better than the original readings, so I chose my free items (dark indigo blue skinny jeans and a black v-neck t-shirt) and submitted my order.

A confirmation came through within a few minutes. It stated that the regular cost for the jeans were $58 US and the t-shirt was typically $22 US. Both were fully discounted along with the $10 US for shipping and handling. In the end, I paid absolutely nothing out of pocket.

Now, the waiting was the hardest part. The email had listed an expected delivery time of four to five weeks. Mid-November rolled by and there was nothing. I logged into the app to see if any updates had been provided. The status had not changed at all. It wasn’t until December 7 that I saw a message from ZOZO saying that my order had shipped. By all accounts, it took eight weeks for them to mail out my products. Granted, I completely understand that my items were free, so I get that it may not have been their priority. In my mind, it made sense for the company to focus more on the paying customers first. I was mostly just eager to see the outcome.

As soon as I got my hands on the parcel from ZOZO, I opened it. The clothes were pressed, folded, and packaged perfectly in see-through bags. The black t-shirt was deep in colour and felt like quality cotton since it was quite thick-knit. It appeared to be evenly cut and the stitching was secure. The labels on the inside indicated the chest, shoulder, and length measurements, presumably based on what the app had spit out. The jeans were a nice wash, made with a slight stretch. Almost all of the metal fixtures on the jeans are branded, too, so you know that they take their product seriously.

The t-shirt has short sleeves that are a tad too long and it’s quite boxy.

That being said, ultimately, the biggest test for ZOZO is the fit. I slipped the t-shirt on and I just laughed. I tend to prefer clothing that is more fitted. This was extremely boxy and lose, most prominently around the waist. Reviewing those numbers on the tag, I have a hard time believing that I have a 43 inch chest, considering my bra size is a 34. I’m also not a fan of the short sleeve length as the hem reaches too low by going more than halfway down my upper arm. It’s fine for a casual top and I can always just wear it to lounge around the house, but I really wasn’t too impressed with the t-shirt.

On the other hand, the jeans were a pleasant surprise. While they failed to provide an exact fitΒ β€” a tad loose in the front hip area, not quite tapered enough at the hem, uneven back pockets, and not enough lift in the buttocks β€” I couldn’t believe how well the app managed to calculate my waist measurements (the ZOZOSUIT was somewhat baggy around the stomach). The jeans hugged my curves! For me, that always seems to be the hardest part about buying jeans or pants. They’re either good in the hip/thighs, but not in the waist or vice versa. The stretch in the material meant that the jeans from ZOZO were form-fitting in the majority of other spots. What would make them even better is if the inseam was right. The jeans are about two inches too short, so they look like ankle pants. I’ll take them though. For the spring, summer, and early fall, they’ll do.

The app does allow for further customization (take in the waist more, shorten/lengthen the leg, get a tailored hem), which didn’t seem to be an option for the free items that I received. It’s certainly something I’d consider experimenting with more. The measurements that the app took of me previously are saved for future use, and the ZOZOSUIT can be reused as long as the dots printed on it remain in tact. The service is offered to a number of countries already, and the ZOZOSUIT is free, so there really isn’t a downside to testing it out.

Would I order again? Maybe. Right now, they don’t have an extensive collection of clothes (strictly basics) and the process time from start to finish is considerable. So, if you need a pair of jeans quickly, this isn’t the option for you. But, as ZOZO grows and their measurement system gets smarter, I’d certainly mull over the possibility of purchasing custom-fit clothes from them again. This is especially true now that I’m aware of the fact that their products can be fine tuned further than what is calculated by the app. I also have a pair of jeans to go off of. Therefore, in the future, I can more easily dictate what exactly has to be modified to best meet my needs.