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Service Review: Boston Organics

December 29, 2021 Leave a comment

Boston Organics is an organic only grocery delivery service for homes and offices. They focus on local whenever possible and supporting other small businesses. They are committed to sustainability, including recycling and composting.

Their service area includes towns surrounding Boston such as Billerica and Waltham. See their full delivery area here.

I originally signed up for Boston Organics in October 2012. I put my account on pause when my work location and schedule meant it was easier for me to get to the grocery store. When the pandemic arrived and grocery stores in the Boston area were largely out of stock of a lot of produce, I was thrilled to be able to unpause my account and resume my deliveries in March of 2020. I am not exaggerating when I say when my first delivery included a fresh pepper – I cried.

When you sign up for Boston Organics, you choose what type and size of box you want. They range from small to family size. Many sizes let you choose the proportion of fruits to veggies. There is also the “dogma box,” which is the local foods only box. Cost of boxes ranges from $27 to $60. You can choose every week or every other week delivery. My family of two gets the small box with every other week delivery. The produce lasts us one week, but we alternate this service with another for increased variety.

When you sign up, you set up your produce preferences. You can change these at any time. There’s a set list of what boxes are getting what produce each week, but these are adjusted to suit your preferences. Your options are dislike, neutral, like, and love. If you set dislike you never get that produce item. If you set neutral, you sometimes get it in smaller quantities. You can set a whole category of produce, like I do here:

Or you can expand a category and set the items individually, like I do for alliums.

The basic boxes are just produce, but you can order “add-ons.” You can do these one week at a time, or just add them to every week as a subscription. The add-ons are really fun. They include pantry staples like pasta and beans to beverages to eggs to tofu. What I really like about them is how thoughtfully sourced they are. They come from mostly small local businesses, like my subscription tofu delivery is made in New York state. You can also add on produce itself. This is part of why my family does the small box because then I add on produce I know we want every time, like spinach. This gives us both consistency and variety. You can also add-on a tip for your driver. These are in $1 increments, so you can add on whatever you think is appropriate. I really appreciate they added this feature. You have until noon the day before your delivery to make adjustments to your subscription/account for most items. There’s a special deadline for bread and dairy.

The produce gets dropped off in a reusable green box. They will leave it wherever you want, including inside your front door if you give them a key. They are insured to do this. We have ours left on our porch.

They pick up the previous delivery’s plastic box at the time of the next delivery. You do need to remember to leave it out for them. I love that they use a reusable box. It’s more sustainable, and I don’t have to mess around with crushing down a giant recycling box. If it’s summer and hot, you can leave a cooler out for them. The Boston Organics driver will put any chilled items into that cooler. Obviously from the snow on our porch, that wasn’t necessary for us at the time of this delivery!

If you ever have any issues with your delivery, it’s incredibly easy to report. There’ s a “report order issues” button on your account. You fill out a quick form, and a person gets back to you. Human beings run this business, so of course sometimes errors happen. They are not common, though. I would say we see an error once a quarter. The response is always speedy. You usually get a credit toward your next order equal to or more than the amount of the item with the problem. Sometimes you also get that item as a free add-on next time if it’s produce. Better than that, though, is the issue manager tells you exactly what they’re going to do to address it so it doesn’t happen again. I really appreciate how transparent they are and wonderfully easy to deal with.

Overall, Boston Organics makes eating fresh, organic produce and groceries year-round convenient and easy. The customer service is A+, and I’m happy to recommend them.

Sign up for Boston Organics here. Be sure to use my referral coupon code for a 10% discount off your first delivery. Coupon code: 2163boa9b9

Although I do receive 10% off my next delivery when someone else signs up, please know that I only recommend services and products that I have tried out for a significant time and can wholeheartedly recommend.

Have questions about the service? Feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Book Review: Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! by Jillian Michaels and Mariska Van Aalst

January 17, 2015 Leave a comment

cover_masterSummary:
Jillian Michaels became famous for being a personal trainer on The Biggest Loser, a show she has since left.  In addition to being a personal trainer, she is also a woman with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), an illness that messes with hormones and often makes the sufferer gain weight due to these hormonal problems.  Jillian, with the help of her doctor, takes her years of experience both dealing with her own hormonal issues and training others with them and offers up advice on how to adjust your diet and lifestyle to optimize your hormonal balance for easier health and weight loss.

Review:
Despite its title, this book primarily focuses on achieving health through making permanent changes to your lifestyle, advocating a gradual overhaul with the focus on improving health, with weight loss as a side bonus.

The book opens with an introduction from Dr. Christine Darwin.  It then moves to Jillian giving a brief introduction to her own health journey.  It was fascinating to learn about how she became a trainer in her late teens, got her job on The Biggest Loser, and was diagnosed with PCOS.  This lends a personal touch to the entire book.  Jillian isn’t “naturally fit.” She works hard at it and has an illness that actually makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.  This book is honest about the fact that achieving fitness is varying levels of difficult for people, but also takes a no-nonsense, if you want health you’ll fight for it, attitude.  That attitude may rub some readers the wrong way, but I appreciate it.

The book next tackles explaining how your biochemistry impacts your health and weight and why it’s therefore important to keep them balanced.  Readers who enjoy knowing the why’s behind certain bits of health advice (such as keeping your stress levels low, getting enough sleep, not eating after 9pm) will particularly enjoy this section, as it explains the biochemistry behind this advice.  Readers who prefer to just get the advice without knowing the why’s can easily skip this bit and just partake of the advice if they so choose.  My favorite part of this section is how kind Jillian is about how people may have beat up their bodies so far in life.  She’s very encouraging that what’s in the past is in the past, and every body can be improved.

No matter how you’ve abused your body up until now–and I’m willing to bet you have, even if you didn’t mean to–you can make it better. (loc 583)

The next section talks about how various chemicals and hormones in our environments contribute to messed up hormones.  Jillian is quite passionate about how things like BPA in cans and hormones in non-organic dairy can pile up to mess up human hormones.  Jillian makes a point of saying that even changing one of these things (for instance, buying organic dairy) can help your body, because every little bit helps.  However, she is also so passionate about these hormonal and chemical pollutants that it can sometimes seem as if she is telling the reader to change everything all at once, and that can be a bit overwhelming.

Next the recommended diet is tackled, and it’s actually fairly straight-forward.  Limit processed foods (and all the HFCS and artificial sweeteners and preservatives that come with it).  Focus on eating only things that grew in the ground or had a mother. Limit starchy root vegetables (less than 2 servings a day), alcohol (1 drink per day), caffeine (stick to green tea), soy (2 servings per week), full fat dairy and fatty meats, and canned food (to avoid BPA).  She encourages including power nutrients, such as: legumes, alliums, berries, meat and eggs, colorful and cruciferous fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, organic dairy, and whole grains.  Perhaps the most difficult part of the diet, besides cutting out processed food, is the timing of eating she recommends.  Eat within an hour of waking up. Eat three more times in the day, once every four hours.  Eat until you’re full but not stuffed. Don’t eat after 9pm.  The explanation for the timing issue is to help balance your hormones.  She also states that you must have fat, protein, and carbs at every meal, but to aim for higher protein, particularly in the evening meal and as you age.  The reasoning behind this is you feel more satisfied with all three macros and also are more likely to not lack in any particular nutrient.  Two other reasons are that protein increases your metabolism and as people age they need more protein to retain muscles.  This is not a particularly challenging diet, nor is it far off from what is generally recommended by doctors and nutritionists as a healthy diet.  Again, the most challenging part is the timing issue.  Not everyone’s life lets them perfectly space out their meals.

For those readers who are new to eating a whole foods, unprocessed diet, the book includes a sample menu (I believe it covers two weeks, but can’t double-check as it was a library copy).  The recipes are perfect for beginner cooks with nothing too complex and not too much time required.  Jillian teamed up with a professional for the recipes, and is straight-forward about that.

The book next tackles the six most common hormonal disorders, including PMS, hypothyroid, metabolic syndrome, and PCOS.  These hormonal issues require special recommendations and guidelines, and Jillian explains them quickly and clearly.

Finally the book ends with some tips on how to live out the recommended lifestyle, including how to afford and/or find organic food, how to clean your house without chemicals, etc…  Just as earlier, Jillian is so passionate about this that it’s possible for the reader to feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing everything, even though Jillian does make a point to state that changing even one thing, or one thing at a time, will help.  Perhaps it would help if the book ended with a checklist of the most important changes or how to adapt gradually or something like that to make it feel less overwhelming for the reader.

Besides the fact that sometimes the book can make the lifestyle feel a bit overwhelming, my only other issue with the book was when Jillian recommends that women stop taking hormonal birth control pills and use condoms instead.  Condoms are nowhere near as good a form of birth control as hormonal methods, and randomly recommending everyone stop using hormonal birth control is more than just a bit irresponsible.  It would have been far more responsible to do something such as suggest that if the reader is concerned about the level of hormones in her birth control to speak to her doctor about lower level hormone options, such as the mini-pill or the IUD, and see if those may work for her.  Just flat-out saying everyone use condoms is not helpful.  Plus, there is a risk/reward calculation that every individual must make for themselves.

Overall, this book mostly recommends diet and lifestyle changes that would also be recommended by most doctors and nutritionists.  The timing of eating is something that is up for debate, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt the reader to try it.  Jillian sometimes gets so passionate about all of the lifestyle and diet changes that it can feel overwhelming to the reader.  Recommended to those interested in the science behind generally recommended lifestyle changes.  Just remember that you don’t have to do everything at once and take the advice with a piece of salt. Do your own research and talk to your doctor before dropping medication/birth control.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

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