Shaw's French Bread

Complete Score: 18 / 42 = 43%

Every Thursday Shaw’s supermarkets sell big loafs of french bread for just $1. These loafs are baked fresh that day in their store. At first glance it seems like a great deal but a close look at the ingredients delivers the truth.

Value

Getting a big loaf of bread for one measly dollar is a fantastic deal, but there is a downside. The bread contains high fructose corn syrup. Why Shaw’s, why?

If you’re on a super tight budget then this bread is OK but otherwise I’d send the extra $1.5 and get one of their loaves that does not contain HFCS.

Score: 3 / 5

Half of the loaf
Half of the loaf

Quality

The bread is baked fresh and is edible, but also contains that tell-tale empty cardboard-esque taste that comes with high fructose corn syrup. The bread is also not very crispy, but rather a bit soft and chewy. It stays well, as it’s already not crispy, but it’s simply not very tasty. I like my bread crispy on the outside and soft on the inside but this loaf was just soft all around, to the point I could bend it in half to stuff in my backpack without ruining it.

Score: 2 / 5

Innovation

I’d say offering loaves of bread for $1 is a great deal, except Whole Foods did the same thing for half this summer and their loaves were much, much tastier.

Score: 3 / 5

Social Benefit

Cheap bread is great and helps families, college students and others on tight budgets stretch each and every dollar, but at a price of eating high fructose corn syrup. Honestly, high fructose corn syrup is probably not the worst thing for us but it’s certainly no better than sugar. For what it’s worth I prefer natural foods and see natural as simply better than artificial.

Score: 2 / 5

Looks crispy crunchy...but it's not
Looks crispy crunchy...but it's not

Freestyle!

Lots of potential here but in the end Shaw’s French Bread falls short.

Score: 8 / 22

Shaw’s French Bread can be purchased at Shaw’s supermarkets.

Complete Score: 18 / 42 = 43%

Izze Sparkling Pomegranate

Complete Score: 34 / 42 = 81%

Hmmm…sparkling pomegranates…hmmm!

The latest craze aside, I love the taste of pomegranates, they’re sweet but sharp and instantly refreshing. That’s why when I saw the Izze Sparkling Pomegranate Juice Soda, I had to give it a try.

Value

At $1 per 12 ounce bottle, IZZE is neither cheap nor expensive but rather middle of the range. It’s made from all natural ingredients and contains real non-refined sugar so at least it’s better than soda with high fructose corn syrup.

The nutritional value of this drink is low, as it contains 120 calories, 15 mg of sodium and 29 grams of carbohydrates, 26 of which are from sugar.

Score: 3 / 5

Hmm...pomegranatey
Hmm...pomegranatey

Quality

As noted above, Izze uses all natural ingredients in their drinks and it makes a difference as one glass of Sparkling Pomegranate juice delivers a sharp, sweet taste that pays homage to its name, while the lack of refined sugars and caffeine does not leave you feeling drained just a few minutes later. It’s a very refreshing beverage and the sparkling (carbonated) water is a nice touch that gives you that little bit of fizz action.

Score: 4 / 5

Innovation

This pomegranate soda is a unique drink that I’ve yet to see bottled by other companies. It’s flavored similar to pomegranate juice but also has a mix of juice from pineapples, apples, white grapes, lemons, and cranberries to balance out the flavor very nicely. Also note that the label on the Izze Sparkling Pomegranate bottle points out that the USDA recommends we get most of our fruit from whole fruits, and urges us to eat whole fruits! Imagine that, a company telling us the truth and recommending we buy a product they don’t make!

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

Unlike the Hansen’s line of natural sodas we reviewed earlier, Izze’s natural flavored juice beverages come in glass bottles that make for easier recycling and a cleaner taste than aluminum cans.s Also, as noted in the innovation category, Izze recommends we eat whole fruits too, not just rely on their beverages for our daily fruit servings. It’s nice to see a company state health facts that don’t necessarily help their bottom line. The all natural ingredients round out a beverage that might not be good for us on its own, but is certainly much, much better for us and our society than the average High Fructose Corn Syrup laden sodas found on our shelves.

Izze also participates in their community, giving back some of their profits to help others, thus also helping to offset any negative externalities such as pollution from transporting the beverage.

Score: 4 / 5

Fizzy!
Fizzy!

Freestyle!

Simply put, pomegranates rock and the Izze Sparkling Pomegrante juice soda drink is uber tasty delicious!

Score: 18 / 22

Buy delicious Izze Sparkling Pomegranate Juice Soda online right now!

Complete Score: 34 / 42 = 81%

The Education of a Coach

Complete Score: 2 / 42 = 5%

The Education of a Coach is a biography about Bill Belichick written by David Halberstam. I purchased this book from Border’s at the CambridgeSide Galleria hoping to learn more about the genius’ coaching techniques and how he managed to stay fresh with ideas winning three Super Bowl’s in a matter of four years. As a huge Pats fan and an even bigger Belichick fan I was sadly disappointed when I got about halfway through the book realizing it simply was just a biography. The book went on talking about how Belichick grew up in PA played high school ball (not so well to add) and how he went from job to job before he landed the head coaching position in Titletown. After a while I simply got bored and stopped reading it. It was absolutely boring and I learned nothing new about football. What a waste of money.

Value

For $14 from Border’s I wasted three days of breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts on my way to work. Not so expensive for a book, but a book that had nothing that I wanted or expected from it is very upsetting, especially when your bills add up to over a grand a month.

Score: 1 / 5

Quality

When describing the quality of this book, I must say that it is a glossy shiny cover and is a strong paperback book…obviously I’m joking about that. When it comes to the quality of the reading, Halberstam writes well but it was long, drawn out and boring. Not to my liking at all.

Score: 1 / 5

Innovation

This seems very tough to judge when you ask yourself how a book can be innovative. Although Belichick is the master of second half adjustments and has made defensive changes in the game that shocked the world in 2002, Halberstam is lacking in that department. The only way this book truly altered my life was by making my wallet $14 lighter, BOO to that!

Score: 0 / 5

Social Benefit

What is the social benefit of this book? It gave me a reason to write about it. This was by far one of the worst purchases I have ever made. Don’t get me wrong, Belichick and the Patriots are great, but a boring, drawn out, life long story of the most monotonic, dry, sheltered man was not my idea of a good time.

Score: 0 / 5

Freestyle:

As I have clearly stated, this book was a waste of $14 that I could have spent elsewhere. My loyalty still lies with Belichick and the Patriots but I was hoping that this book had what I was looking for.

Score: 0 / 22

The Education of a Coach is available in hardcover and paperback.

Complete Score: 2 / 42 = 5%

Kashi Margherita Tomato Garlic Cheese Thin Crust Pizza

Complete Score: 31.5 / 42 = 75%

Since our review of the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza, the company has come out with a new thin crust line of pizzas which look quite appetizing. I picked one of these up today and am glad I did, it was delicious!

Ooooh....thin!
Ooooh....thin!

Value

With Mr. Money’s tip about getting $2 off Kashi pizzas, I was able to grab the Kashi Margherita Tomato Garlic Cheese Thin Crust Pizza for only $4 and change. That’s a pretty good deal for an entire meal. Normally these pizzas run for $6 though so that is how we’ll rate them. Similar to the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza, these thin crust pizzas are a good but not great value.

Below are the nutritional facts pulled from the Kashi site. As with the Mediterranean Pizza, these values are per serving and list one pizza as 3 servings. You’ll likely eat the whole pizza in a sitting so just multiply the below by three.

Nutritional Facts

  • 260 Calories
  • 90 Calories from Fat
  • 9 g Total Fat
  • 4 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 20 mg Cholesterol
  • 630 mg Sodium
  • 29 g Carbohydrates
  • 4 g Fiber
  • 4 g Sugars
  • 14 g Protein
  • 10% Vitamin A
  • 10% Vitamin C
  • 20% Calcium
  • 8% Iron

Pretty close in value to the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza. For the cost and considering it’s a frozen pizza you get a fair amount of nutrients for one meal.

Score: 4 / 5

Quality

This pizza was delicious! The crust was perfect and the cheese and toppings cooked and melted perfectly. Plus, since it’s thin crust it only takes 6-7 minutes to cook! There’s just the right amount of garlic, that amount that leaves you satisfied an hour or two later with the taste of garlic still hitting your taste buds but not overwhelmingly so.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Innovation

Well, the thin crust is a new addition for Kashi and one that’s rarely seen in the frozen pizza market so I’ll give them an extra .5 points in addition to their previous innovation score.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Hmmm...thin crust deliciousness
Hmmm...thin crust deliciousness

Social Benefit

We discussed the social impact of Kashi frozen pizzas before so let me just quickly state that they’re good for society in that they substitute for delivery pizza, which is often greasy and unhealthy. However frozen pizzas use a lot of salt to preserve themselves and are not exactly healthy, just healthier. If you really want to reduce your impact and increase your health make a pizza from scratch.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Freestyle!

For $4 it’s tough to beat this pizza. For $6, you’re better off making your own but if you’re crunched for time then it’s really tough to beat a pizza that cooks in under ten minutes.

Score: 16 / 22

Kashi pizzas are available at Stop & Shop and many other super markets.

Complete Score: 31.5 / 42 = 75%

My 2008 Voting Experience

Complete Score: 31 / 42 = 74%

Before we begin, let me make it clear I am reviewing my voting experience, not any candidate or the results of the 2008 elections. Rather, I’m reviewing my polling place, the ballot, and the general experience. Let’s begin!

Value

Around 3:00 PM, I walked downstairs, hopped on my bicycle and pedaled the few blocks to the Bellflower Apartments a few blocks away. Once there, I locked my bike up and headed inside. There was a line of 2-3 people on my side of the polling station (having voted there in ’06 I knew exactly where to go) but it quickly moved. A minute later I was standing at a polling booth with marker in hand ready to fill in the ovals next to my candidate and ballot choices (in Massachusetts we had three ballot initiatives, abolish the state income tax, decriminalize marijuana, and ban dog racing). I quickly filled in my choices for the major offices and ballot questions, pausing to Google a few of the candidates I did not see before via my iPhone.

Within a few minutes I was set and ready and walked over to the table next to the machine that accepts my ballot for a second check of my info. After watching the machine eat and process my ballot I walked out, unlocked my bike and pedaled home, arriving back before 3:15 PM.

All in all, the process was quite painless and certainly worth 15 minutes.

Score: 4 / 5

Quality

As far as I can tell, there were no voting irregularities and I did not experience any technical or registration issues at my polling place. The ballot was clear and ovals nice and big enough to mark easily. The paper ballot combined with a counting machine makes the process seem relatively straightforward and as tamper-proof as possible. The staffers were nice and the process went quickly.

Score: 4 / 5

Innovation

Here in Massachusetts we have a web-site devoted to telling voters where to go to vote and use paper ballots. Not sure about other states but the whole process seems as streamlined as possible. Personally, I believe we should move voting to the internet and release all votes anonymously so they can be independently verified but until such a day arrives the process here in Massachusetts, at least at my Dorchester polling station, is run well. It’s not really innovative but it is reliable and any voting process should focus on reliability first and foremost before attempting to innovate.

Score: 3 / 5

A paper ballot...how quaint!
A paper ballot...how quaint!

Photo credit to Andrew Teman.

Social Benefit

A quick, painless, easy and reliable voting procedure encourages citizens to vote and decreases the obstacles to voting. As such, the positive experience at this polling station helps our local community and society in general. Hopefully we improve voting methods across the country to be as smooth as it is here.

Score: 4 / 5

Freestyle!

No major complaints. In the end we don’t know if my vote was tabulated correctly but otherwise everything went smoothly.

Score: 16 / 22

I voted at the Bellflower Apartments at 24 Bellflower Street, Dorchester, MA 02125.

Complete Score: 31 / 42 = 74%

Barack Obama: Marketing Hope to the Masses

Complete Score: 25 / 42 = 60%

Though I’m personally voting for Ralph Nader, there is much to respect in Barack Obama and how he’s ran his campaign. Say what you will about the man or his political stances but he’s clearly led one of the best campaigns in our modern history. Sure, the fact that Obama has much more financial resources than other candidates helps him push out this campaign, but his targeting and ability to motivate citizens to get involved is admirable. No matter your political affiliation, the fact remains that we will have a huge, huge voter turnout today and no doubt Obama is a big reason for that turnout. Though I see Barack Obama as being politically closely tied to John McCain, at least Obama has shown that he can lead, which with our current crop of candidates is a rarely seen trait. The only other person I would say has shown true leadership capability is Ralph Nader, though his campaign has not nearly been as well managed as the Obama campaign.

His politics are average but the man is damn charming...
His politics are average but the man is damn charming...

Photo credit to seiu_international.

Value

So Obama can get people motivated via his eloquent speeches, but in terms of bang for his buck, Obama is not the most efficient of candidates. That honor clearly goes to one of the third party candidates, who’ve compiled dedicated fan bases with little financial support. In terms of value he would provide to the USA, I find very little that differentiates him from his moderate comrade, John McCain. They’re both in favor of expanding the war in Afghanistan, increasing the wealth of health insurance companies, “clean” coal and “safe nuclear (empty rhetoric since coal is not clean and nuclear is not safe), keeping the Patriot Act, wasting taxpayer money on failing corporations (e.g. poor understanding of economics), increased corporate power, increased surveillance of the American public (FISA), and the list goes on.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Quality

If Obama runs the country like he’s run the campaign then we’ll be OK as Obama has shown he, unlike many of the other candidates for President, has some leadership characteristics and is able to organize and manage a large organization. On one side of the spectrum we have John McCain, who has proven that he is highly incapable of organizing, managing or leading a campaign, yet alone a country, on the other side of the spectrum we have Obama who has shown that he is more than capable of running a huge campaign and possibly a country. If nothing else you have to admire the man’s campaign and ability to capitalize on his strengths while cloaking his weaknesses. I might not agree with him on many of his political stances, but I sure am glad Barack Obama is an American and not running for president of some other country.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Obama's appeal ranges over a diverse spectrum
Obama's appeal ranges over a diverse spectrum

Photo credit to EricaJoy.

Innovation

Barack Obama’s internet presence is huge and rivals that of internet phenom Ron Paul. The social network aspect of Obama’s site has helped him create a grassroots movement that has since built up into a huge national collection of voters working and volunteering for Barack Obama. He’s also introduce legislation and ideas that would open up government for citizens to see what’s going on, which amazingly is innovative considering the immense secrecy of the Bush administration. If nothing else, we can say Obama is creative, though many of his progressive ideas do come from other sources (Nader amongst others), it again is innovative to listen to others instead of relying on your own secret sect for all solutions, ala the Bush administration.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

As noted in my review of Bob Barr, we need to recognize what’s happened over the last eight years and put in safeguards to ensure it does not happen again, not simply hit the reset button. Barack Obama however is a return to the moderate Democrat politics of Bill Clinton, not a progressive movement to improve this country. Voting for Barack Obama is quite literally like hitting the reset button and pretending that George W. Bush did not happen.

On too many issues Barack Obama has taken a moderate stance highly similar to John McCain. For instance Obama’s support of clean coal, safe nuclear are empty rhetoric as clean coal is not clean and safe nuclear is not safe. These stances lead me to believe that Obama cares more about businesses and less about what’s good for our society as a whole. We have the technology today to begin relying on cleaner energy from solar, wind, geothermal and tidal sources. It is time we leave behind coal, gas, and nuclear and progress towards an independent and clean energy future.

Score: 2 / 5

Barack Obama works the crowd
Barack Obama works the crowd

Photo credit to Allison Harger.

Freestyle!

Look, I like Obama’s personality. He’s a very charismatic guy and will likely regain many of America’s allies. However, he is not a progressive figure and will merely steady this country, but not vastly improve it. I hope I am proved wrong but I find that Obama is full of hype and empty on true progressive substance. Many of my friends believe Obama will shed his moderate stances once in office and truly work to improve this country and introduce legislation to open up the political process, including making ballot access fair, allowing third party candidates to attend national debates, and empowering citizens to enact change and protect themselves. Obama would score much lower in this category if deep down I did not hold out hope that my friends are correct and that Obama truly is a progressive figure hiding in a moderate’s cloth, but that hope runs close to empty.

Score: 12 / 22

You can learn more about Barack Obama at Vote for Change.

Complete Score: 25 / 42 = 60%

Chuck Baldwin: Ron Paul’s Choice for President

Complete Score: 26.5 / 42 = 63%

Chuck Baldwin is running for president under the Constitution party, with a strong emphasis on governing under the powers allowed under the constitution, no more nor less. To any fans of Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin has many of the same platform stances, such as sound monetary policy, withdrawal of all troops and focus on actual defense, and a complete free market.

Value

Much like Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin represents a much better choice for conservative voters than John McCain. Chuck seems very, very genuine in his stances and truly does practice what he preaches (literally, he is a pastor at a Baptist church in Florida). Much in the same way that Barr would be a boost to the U.S. economy, so would Baldwin as they represent very similar stances in that they both place emphasis on free market solutions. Though I disagree that the free market can truly solve everything (for instance, it cannot be its own regulator for safety and fairness), it is a valid argument. Also, by limiting the federal government and its expenditures, Baldwin would return power to citizens and spur economic activity.

Score: 4 / 5

Chuck Baldwin & a fan
Chuck Baldwin & a fan

Photo credit to peace chicken.

Quality

Unlike Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin did stand with Ron Paul, Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney in a declaration that they are all united in four main goals and are all better choices than McCain or Obama. This decision proved hugely beneficial for Baldwin as he later earned the endorsement of Ron Paul. To me, a third party needs as many allies it can get and Barr oddly decided to cancel on Ron Paul and the other third parties and it’s hurt him dearly. I believe Barr might have gotten Ron Paul’s endorsement otherwise and thus received a huge, huge boost from Paul and most likely from Baldwin dropping out and endorsing Barr too.

Further, Baldwin has debated with Ralph Nader numerous times now and shown that and his vice-presidential candidate, Darrell Castle, are calm, collected and rational (unlike Wayne Allen Root). Showing that Baldwin can work with Ralph Nader to setup debates shows that he like Nader can co-operate and compromise and that is a much needed quality in any president or leader.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Innovation

Like Barr, Mr. Baldwin advocates a return backwards, to a time when Americans had more civil liberties. Though I agree with Mr. Baldwin that we need to remove the restrictions on civil liberties that President Bush has put in place, I believe that simply wiping out the Bush laws and signing statements will not ensure that a similar situation happens again. Mr. Baldwin does not seem to have a strategy for ensuring that we citizens have more power to prevent future government abuse.

Score: 3 / 5

Social Benefit

Though Chuck Baldwin’s stances on wiping out the Federal Reserve and the IRS would benefit our society, his pro-life, and anti-gay marriage stances will be an obstacle to moving this country towards a more progressive, diverse, and equitable country. To me freedom means allowing for freedom of choice on these issues, not restricting others on acting on their beliefs. Chuck also stands for greater energy independence but does not believe that humans are affecting the climate. To me it’s obvious that pollution is not a good social externality and that we should work to minimize our negative impact on the environment, whether or not climate change is affected by humans.

Score: 3 / 5

Freestyle!

Chuck Baldwin is a great choice for the socially and fiscally conservative voter. However, for voters like myself who lean towards social liberalism and fiscal conservatism, Baldwin’s social stances prove a bit too far to the right.

Score: 13 / 22

You can read more about Chuck Baldwin at Baldwin 08.

Complete Score: 26.5 / 42 = 63%

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