Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: My Food Bag: is it any good?

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  • Sara Bee,

    Would love to try a Food Bag, if it was possible for it to be flown all the way to the 45th parallel :)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I suspect the Food Bag hits the spot for a bunch of time poor professional types with a decent disposable income and faith in their abilities as a home gourmet. The people who own dozens of cookbooks (including everything that Ramsay and Oliver have ever released) but never have the time to plan recipes and shop for everything they need. It's something I'd be into were it not for the three kids and trying to stick to a pretty modest food budget.

    Also Christie's duck looks AMAZING!

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    That duck does look pretty spectacular.

    On the issue of not being home enough to justify something like this: we've had a similar experience with Ooooby. They do cheapish fortnightly fruit and vege deliveries, which are great (and not bad at all for the price) but we find we need to plan our meals in advance to avoid losing half the delivery as it goes off. We've started to get the hang of that now, but it's taken a while. We do have fairly predictable routine, though; I'm not sure everybody has that luxury.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, also. Not wanting to waste fresh food, I served the Regal smoked salmon to my barbecue guests on Saturday night and curried up the lamb with some chickpeas last night.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Interesting to note the connection with the Au Pair business founded by the same folk. Suspect I am not their target market somehow.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    New Zealand Herald media columnist John Drinnan’s speculation that people tweeting about it were being paid to do so.

    Let’s get this out of the way first: they weren’t. That isn’t how this kind of thing works.

    And then;

    To launch the service, Pead PR devised a pretty standard modern consumer PR campaign: offer one week’s order to a bunch of known over-sharers with social media audiences

    So they were "paid" $140-$179 to Blog, Tweet or, dare I say it?, Facepalm it.
    And.. former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung?
    Enough to put me off the service if not food for good.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • simantics,

    Delicious looking food. Someone needs to invite me over to their MyFoodBag night.

    I think a good next step would be MyFoodBags for bachelors and bachelors-at-heart. Easy to prepare snacks for guys wanting to wean off takeaways. I asked the founder she says it's not completely out of the question.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Kate Hannah, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    I had the same thing with Foodbox when I first started - I struggled to get through the weekly delivery but after several years have adapted ensuring stuff gets used. I would love to try #myfoodbag as I'm always keen to introduce variety to my cooking and am happy to try new recipes most nights as long as i have all the ingredients. last week I cooked four new recipes from the March Cuisine having planned my shopping thusly. 2 will go into high rotation for our family, the other 2 were okay but not any better than existing recipes I use/do. But cooking after work is my wind-down time, and I already get groceries and fresh fruit and vege delivered - ie I might actually be the target market.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I can't help thinking a modular approach would suit more people. Particularly one with vegetarian and gluten-free options available. And I can imagine if there were recipes you really liked, you might want to have them again.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I rather like delivered food. And I rather like good ingredients.

    As you note, it's this combination that works. $179 for five 'family' dinners seems to be right on the high side of things, but if there are people with that kind of money in NZ (there clearly are), then more power to them. A long time ago I did some work with an organic soup company - their food seemed terribly overpriced, but now you can find the same products in every supermarket in Australia and New Zealand.

    I'd like to talk about this product. I'd also like to talk about what it takes to deliver (in the widest sense) good healthy food to every home in New Zealand.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to simantics,

    I think a good next step would be MyFoodBags for bachelors and bachelors-at-heart.

    Actually that would be a pretty good expansion, when I used to live alone in the city it was a huge pain in the ass cooking for myself. Hard to shop easily for one, hard to find recipes well suited to one.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to George Darroch,

    $179 for five ‘family’ dinners seems to be right on the high side of things

    It's only $8.95 a serve if you're feeding four, or $7.16 if you're feeding five. It's a little pricey, but would probably still fit in the "budget meals" category of many popular cooking magazines etc.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I'd be interested to know who the ingredient value compares to having same things delivered from Countdown for example. If anyone has the information necessary to make such a comparison.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    So they were “paid” $140-$179 to Blog, Tweet or, dare I say it?, Facepalm it.

    Yeah, someone gives you something free, they are paying you - for the potential to market their business. You're being paid with goods or services, and you may value those goods or services at less than their effective price.

    I don't think it's an ethical issue, so long as you're not pretending to be a journalist while doing so (interacting with the product and then creating publicity for that product). I realise that a huge and increasing part of paid writing now consists of such interactions, and I consume some of that writing without compunction. I'd like to coin such work as commentorial.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    I can assure you that Christie's duck tasted as good as it looked ;)

    If I can add my thoughts on the Gourmet Food Bag (designed for 2 people, 4 meals each week rather than 4pax x 5days as RB tried)...

    Day 1's "asian style" foil wrapped snapper was delicious, as was Day 2's duck (pictured), the lamb chops on day 3 I could take or leave, and the pine-nut stuffed eggplant on day 4 was another new delight.

    I'm not quite the foodie that RB is, and so it was nice to be prodded into some new, albeit relatively simple directions. We'd never cooked duck at home before, for instance, but certainly will now.

    There is a degree of planning and routine involved, by day 3 I was hankering for a night off cooking/dishes, but thought that might be a slippery slope to a fridge full of rotting veggies, especially with the weekend beckoning. Even with Harry, we're still not great at being home and cooking every night, but if you have a bit more order in your life and are cooking anyway, it would be fine.

    We thought we'd like to do it perhaps one week a month, but the way the system works at present requires you to sign up (no minimum contracts though) and then "pause" your weekly or fortnightly delivery when you don't want it. I'd rather opt in than have to remember to opt out. Obviously the latter is better for business, short term at least.

    There were a few things called for that we were expected to have - some normal, like cooking oil, some a bit more unusual - rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and without a master list of stuff you'd already need to have you could end up substituting/omitting or doing those annoying trips to the supermarket this thing is supposed to avoid. I wondered if the sesame oil/rice wine vinegar perhaps could've been provided in small sachets.

    I thought it was probably good value for money - you could buy it yourself cheaper, but you'd probably have to go to two or three places to get everything, and convenience comes at a cost.

    The concept is apparently really successful in Sweden and Britain. The question is whether the niche here (people who have enough money, and enough time to cook for themselves, but not the time or foodie inclincation to shop/think for themselves) is big enough for it to thrive here. With the memory of that duck still front of mind, I wish them all the best :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Food Bags??

    They put them on horses don''t they?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Kate Hannah,

    I think MyFoodBag is pitched a bit too specifically for us in my house. We're both really busy people on a limited budget (we're also saving for a trip to see my relatives in Italy at the end of the year) so even one wasted meal is a bit of a problem for us.

    The solution has been making a lot of freezable stuff-mainly soup and pasta sauce. That won't keep most young professionals happy, but they breed 'em tough out Devonport way.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    (This is to distinguish it from advertorial, in which you are paid to have a certain kind of relationship with a product. In this less well-defined case, an interaction with a product is created that would not otherwise have existed, but the terms of that relationship are not predetermined.)

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    So they were “paid” $140-$179 to Blog, Tweet or, dare I say it?, Facepalm it.

    Or, to simply do nothing.

    If that's pay, what about journalists who get free tech toys worth much more and write and tweet about them? Or the reviewer who gets a ticket of about the same to a show at Vector? I suppose I'm "paid" to write about The Food Show, given that I generally manage to wangle a ticket to the preview day.

    There will have been various motivations for tweeting or Facebooking about it -- including letting other people know that you got on the list. But would you get a similar response by actually paying someone $140? No.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to George Darroch,

    Yeah, someone gives you something free, they are paying you – for the potential to market their business. You’re being paid with goods or services, and you may value those goods or services at less than their effective price.

    This was the crux, mostly, of the Twitter-splosion that happened on Monday night.

    Given that there was no specific obligation to Tweet at all, or in any specific way, I can't see it as being 'paid'. The core thing here is that the PR people are doing their job well by sending a good product to people who are likely to like it and are, in general, the sort who will share their thoughts in realtime about anything new and interesting in their lives.

    The very same people who tweeted about their free My Food Bag also regularly tweet about services, businesses and products they pay for.

    One of Drinnan's comments on Twitter was directed at Damian Christie and asked whether he was given one because of his Twittering or because he was a TVNZ personality. The clear answer is the former because giving him one on the hopes that he'd mention it on One News would be absurd.

    The art of PR, in a Twitter age, is getting good products into the hands of people who'll like them and are pre-disposed to tweeting about everything they do.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    The solution has been making a lot of freezable stuff-mainly soup and pasta sauce.

    Me too. It's rare for me to make a curry or a pasta sauce that's not at least two meals' worth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    The clear answer is the former because giving him one on the hopes that he’d mention it on One News would be absurd.

    It was actually pitched to Seven Sharp, but they didn't see a story in it. Fair enough.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    The whole question of paying (or giving something away free in return for a review etc) is not new and something journalists have juggled over the years in many guises.

    As an IT reporter I got to travel all over the world to numerous events. Generally speaking these were described as junkets and I can hear your heart bleeding from here at the deprivation of having to go to Sydney, Stockholm or Disney World (actually that last one was particularly strange) in order to attend some event or other.

    But the serious side to it is simple – they (the vendors) buy your time but don’t buy your copy. They can’t decide what you should/should not write and often times are unimpressed with the results of their spend.

    I remember one colleague being flown to some event in Beijing, I think, only to file one story based on an interview given on the last day with an analyst who completely refuted the company’s statements on productivity gains – that was the story of the conference.

    If they’re paying directly and have editorial control over the content of the tweets/posts/whatever then it’s an ad. If it’s an offer of a trial unit/device/product/service/whatever with limited or no control over the final copy then it’s not.

    As a note – we used to ensure we put a “Brislen travelled to Fantasy Land courtesy of Giant Conglomerate Corporation” disclaimers on every such story – that’s should go without saying but not all newspapers or TV networks are so up front about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was actually pitched to Seven Sharp, but they didn’t see a story in it. Fair enough.

    Oh, but we could have had a live in studio cooking demo...

    "How's that lamb coming Jesse?"
    "Hahaha, it's great Greg, I hope you like it rare, and by rare I mean raw"
    etc...

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Also Christie’s duck looks AMAZING!

    And that's actually why it works. He had a crack, came up with something that looked like a top-notch restaurant meal, and proudly showed it off to his Twitter friends.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

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