Sweet Leaf: The Original Sweet Tea

Complete Score: 32 / 42 = 76.2%

Two of the best years of my life were spent in the college town of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. There I learned many, many things about my southern brethren that were unknown to me before. Chief among them was their love of sweet tea. Every single restaurant down there had sweet tea. I quickly found out that a well made (usually homemade) sweet tea was like liquid crack. One day while perusing the aisles of my local Shaw’s supermarket I stumbled upon Sweet Leaf The Original Sweet Tea and knew I had to try it.

Value

At $1.59 for 16 fluid ounces, this bottle of sweet tea is not cheap. Granted, it’s not super-expensive either but it’s certainly not cheap, especially considering I could probably make 4-5 times as much of my own sweet tea for the same price. Still, it is quite tasty and very refreshing when served cold. Part of that price includes the glass bottle, and I’ll certainly pay a little bit more for glass over plastic. It might not be cheaper than other bottled teas, but it’s for sure a heck of a lot cheaper than a trip to North Carolina!

Plus, a bottle of The Original Sweet Tea supplies you with 12% of your daily iron requirement, so it’s not all empty calories and sugar.

Score: 3 / 5

Look refreshing? It was...
Look refreshing? It was...

Quality

The bottle says “Homemade Goodness in a Bottle” and I will give credit where credit is due and admit this is the closest in taste to the south’s sweet tea I’ve found up north. It’s still not quite as good as some of the homemade sweet teas I’ve had but for a mass produced product, it’s as close as we’re gonna get. It is authentic sweet tea, as it’s made in Austin, Texas, but it just lacks that freshly brewed and poured out of a big cool pitcher homemade taste.

Score: 4 / 5

Innovation

Sometimes the taste of a food item goes beyond just the ingredients. Such is the case with Sweet Leaf, as their labels and web-site are adorned with a nice cartoonish image of Granny, who if you ask any Southerner is for sure the master of sweet tea in any household. I’m dead serious too, there are many families who have been passing down their sweet tea recipes for several generations now.

More importantly, Sweet Leaf uses organic ingredients and keeps their recipe simple (water, tea, cane sugar, and citric acid). Sometimes simple and natural is innovative in itself. Such is the case here.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

Well, sweet tea is certainly not the healthiest of beverages but if more people drank sweet tea instead of what the soft drinks and alcohol they’re drinking now we’d be a lot healthier of a nation! Moderation, as always, is key and if you have a sweet tea every now and then it’s not going to destroy society as we know it. On the other hand, the pollution released by shipping so many bottles all over the world for something that we can all make at home isn’t the best thing for society either.

Sweet Ol Granny makes some sweet tea
Sweet Ol Granny makes some sweet tea...picture via Sweet Leaf Tea web-site

On the other hand, Sweet Leaf uses organic ingredients. They also help charities and non-profits, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Multiple Sclerosis Society and Breast Cancer Research. Sweet Leaf is a relatively small company and looks like a nice place to work at too.

Score: 3 / 5

Freestyle!

As I wrote in the introduction, good homemade sweet tea is like liquid crack. When I moved back up north to Boston I couldn’t help but fiend for some good sweet tea every now and then. Thankfully, Sweet Leaf’s Original Sweet Tea handles those cravings well. Now, someone born and raised in the South may disagree with me, but I think this sweet tea is damn, damn good. Pour me another!

Score: 18 / 22

The Original Sweet Tea by Sweet Leaf is available at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s and many other supermarkets.

Complete Score: 32 / 42 = 76.2%

Slacker Uprising: No More Michael Moore

Complete Score: 4 / 42 = 9.5%

On September 23rd, Michael Moore released his latest film for free via internet streams and downloads. Further, he’s given blanket permission for people to do whatever they wish with the film, even sell it for profit. Having just watched the documentary, it’s apparent why he’s giving it away for free, Slacker Uprising is fracking awful. Moore proclaims on the film’s website that “…you can charge admission or ask for a donation if it’s to raise money for a candidate, a voter drive, or for any non-profit or educational purpose. In other words — it’s yours!”

Well, Michael Moore, I don’t want it, please keep it the hell away from me. Never before have I wished for the Men in Black memory erasing device as much as I do now. If only Michael Moore’s blanket open permission allowed me to remove this film from the universe.

Value

Well, it is free. If you are uber-bored and desperately want to see moving pictures on a screen for an hour and a half, please don’t watch this film. I recommend anything from hulu or just watching your screen-saver instead. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, give this film a shot, it knocked me out a few times.

There’s no educational value, no activism and no investigation of voter fraud or election corruption. This film holds little value outside of its free distribution methods.

Score: 1 / 5

Quality

It’s the first time I’ve awarded a product a zero in any category on OTIBR and Slacker Uprising deserves every piece of that null value. Please, do not get the wrong impression, I am by no means a Republican. Nor am I a Democrat. I’m registered as an independent and plan on voting for Ralph Nader. I am not opposed to the political views expressed in the movie, it’s zero score is purely because this documentary is just plain bad. I went in expecting a look at the voter fraud occurring during the 2004 elections and instead got a lot of Michael Moore encouraging others to do stuff while other people spread the gospel of Michael Moore and his awesomeness. We get it Michael, other celebrities think you’re cool and you desperately need to show the world their validation of you.

Michael Moore thinks Michael Moore is #1
Michael Moore thinks Michael Moore is #1

When the film isn’t celebrating Michael Moore, it’s hating on George W. Bush. Look, I hate George W. Bush as much as any other self respecting liberal leaning independent, but this film is simply too much. Over and over and over Moore and others bash Bush but offer little to no praise of Kerry or any other Democrat. There’s no real alternatives mentioned. No one discusses how to fix the country or how to convince Republicans to switch their vote or anything besides a lot of Bush bashing and a lot of promoting the great hype that the Democrats are not the Republicans.

Moore shows a lot of appreciation for the armed forces in this movie, but who does not appreciate what our soldiers do for us? I for one have a great difficulty seeing myself in uniform and immensely appreciate that we have people volunteer for what amounts to one of the toughest jobs on this planet so that we don’t have to. I would have loved to seen a movie all about the troops and their opposition to the war. This film does not do so, but rather skims the issue. Our troops rock, Slacker Uprising does not.

Score: 0 / 5

Innovation

A new level of awful. One point for inventing a documentary so bad, so self-loving that it’s not worth the price of free. In all sincerity, Moore deserves a little bit of credit for releasing his move for free streaming and via download online. He’s not the first person to release a movie for free but he’s one of the biggest. Hopefully it starts a new trend amongst artists who are already financially set and wish to give back to their fans and society.

Score: 2 / 5

Social Benefit

I’ll give Michael Moore credit where he deserves it. While filming this documentary, he did get people excited to vote and helped register voters. But, by the same token, George W. Bush’s terrible presidency also encouraged people to register and vote so we can’t give either party too much credit.

Michael Moore's Biggest Fan
Apparently Moore does not like this guy

In traveling the country Michael Moore also released a ridiculous amount of pollution into the air. It seemed he was flying a jet for a big portion of this film, and towards the actual election day seemed to criss-cross the country multiple times. At the end of the day, despite all of Michael Moore’s ranting and raving, John Kerry still lost the election. In other words, the Democrats had four failed years of the Bush doctrine, a war hero presidential candidate, a liberally loved Michael Moore supporting them and actively seeking voters for the Democrats and still, the Democrats lost.

Not only did they lose the election, but they also lost the fight for democracy. Little effort was made by the Democrats to combat the massive election fraud, voter suppression and the purge of registered voters. I was expecting a documentary discussing the voter frauds that occurred in Ohio to steal the election for George W. Bush but instead got a lot of Michael Moore’s self love fest and then some more Michael Moore.

Score: 1 / 5

Freestyle!

Aside from the bump in voter registration, I can’t find one redeeming quality about this film. Sure there were some musical performances, but none of them were very good. I’m a fan of Eddie Vedder and Tom Morello but they come across very flat in this film. What was the deal with that guy singing about Al Gore? Why do the Democrats love losing?

Hey, it's Eddie Vedder!
Hey, it's Eddie Vedder!

This film is just too bizarre and yet boring. I considered giving it a point or two in the freestyle section for the benefit of registering voters but I can’t in good faith encourage Michael Moore. As apart of the slacker generation targeted, this movie is of great insult to my intelligence and my passion for this country. Michael Moore repeatedly yells at people to get off the coach and vote, well Michael please take a look in the mirror, get off the jet, get on a bicycle and stop yelling at everyone else.

No more Michael Moore, no more.

Score: 0 / 22

Download or stream Slacker Uprising for free at SlackerUprising.com. If for some reason you must own this train wreck, Slacker Uprising is available on DVD at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Fahrenheit 9/11 was great, Slacker Uprising needs to be burned.

Complete Score: 4 / 42 = 9.5%

Kona Sugarloaf: The White Pineapple

Complete Score: 37 / 42 = 88.1%

A White Pineapple, or Kona Sugarloaf, has white flesh with no woodiness in the center, and no acid content. It is cylindrical in shape and very sweet due to its high sugar content. I highly recommend this food to anyone who eats. Pineapples contain calcium, phosphorous, potassium and beta-carotene, as well as bromelain, a potent digestive enzyme which scavenges bacteria and parasites in the digestive system. Pineapples are a good source of manganese and Vitamin C, packing nearly all your daily serving of each in just a one cup serving.

Value

…well it’s just fantastic.

In terms of resources spent both on production and transport to get it from the farm to my kitchen, there is some significant effort involved. Fresh, ripe pineapple is expensive. It’s soft and delicate and therefore great care must be taken in its transportation. Most pineapple that gets shipped is either picked green – so it can ripen while it travels the globe – or more often it gets canned. Since this particular pineapple was a hand delivered gift from a place I’ve actually been, its value is infinite. Still, even if I had to pay the significant costs involved in getting it, I would. Fresh and ripe is the only way to eat a white pineapple, since it’s high sugar content is what you want. The value of this perfectly ripened fruit more than makes up for it’s significant cost.

Score: 5 / 5

Hmmm...sugar
Hmmm...sugar

Quality

I can say, without hesitation or hyperbole, that this was the best pineapple I’ve ever had. It was even better than the ones I had when I was actually on the farm where they grow. I imagine that has a lot to do with the relative rarity of the experience, of actually having one in Boston, that made this one extra sweet. And plus this sucker was perfectly ripe the instant my bro walked through my front door with it under his arm.

Score: 5 / 5

Innovation

There really isn’t much innovation involved in how this piece of fruit came to be in my possession. Fresh exotic fruits travel on planes every day. Being personally acquainted with the land that produced this awesome cylinder of sugar is what made it so especially enjoyable for me, though, so there is definitely a degree of uniqueness here that is unlikely to be paralleled by anything I buy from a corporation.

Score: 3 / 5

Social Benefit

In order for this pineapple to be picked and delivered while ripe, the burning of fossil fuels and a flight of about six thousand miles was required. That’s pretty extravagant just for delivering a few minerals and nutrients to my belly. But considering that the average piece of food consumed by an American travels 1500 miles before it reaches his or her plate, this super duper above average food didn’t do anything unheard of to get to me. Also, my brother did work to earn that fruit payment. And in doing so, he helped to sustain the local organic farming economy.

Score: 3 / 5

The organic jungle farm
The organic jungle farm

Freestyle!

This particular White Pineapple was hand delivered, all the way from Hawaii to Boston, by my brother, who is home for a few months from the eastern coast of the Big Island where he works on a couple organic farms. I’ve been there. We visited him, my Dad and my other brother and I, as a graduation present when I finished school. We spent a week and a half at an awesome home- turned- retreat on an organic farm in the Hawaiian jungle ( what remains of it).

When I purchase organic fruits and veggies at the market, the little stickers are my only connection to the source of that food. To have a fresh, fragrant, perfectly ripened, organic, delicious Kona Sugarloaf from the most isolated islands in the world, from a farm that I’ve been to…well it’s just fantastic.

Score: 21 / 22

Get you some.

Complete Score: 37 / 42 = 88.1%

Nintendo Wii Classic Controller

Complete Score: 27.5 / 42 = 65.5%

When the Wii was released originally in September of 2006, all of the attention from media and fans was focused on the much hyped Remote/Nun chuck setup. The wireless motion sensing setup overshadowed the Wii Classic Controller released on the same day as launch.

When I first picked up the Wii Classic Controller, I felt a rush of nostalgia that made me feel like I was 10 years old again. It feels almost exactly like the classic SNES controller where I busted many a friend with my Ryu skills in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, put in marathon sessions of arguably the greatest RPG ever made in Chrono Trigger, and uncovered every square inch of Zebes in Super Metroid.

But is nostalgia enough? Does the Wii Classic Controller stand up in the face of over a decade of controller innovation from other game hardware manufacturers? Well, yes and no.

Value

At $20, the Classic Controller is far cheaper than the $40 and $50 you will be spending for a Xbox 360 and PS3 controller respectively. The controller plugs into the Wii Remote to make it wireless. Because it doesn’t run off of the power of the Wii, expect to go through many sets of AA batteries or spend a little more for rechargeable batteries.

The Classic Controller is meant to be played with the hundreds of titles on the Wii’s Virtual Console and with select Wii games like Super Smash Bros. Since it can’t be used with all Wii games and the fact that you will have to spend money for AA batteries, the value of the controller is simply average.

Score: 3 / 5

Quality

The Classic Controller is a well made controller, simply put. It has a smooth white finish that matches the look and style of the Wii system. It has eight game play buttons, d-pad, and dual analog sticks. Also, it has start, select, and home buttons that mimic the style of the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers. The number of buttons is perfect for the Virtual Console because of the range of titles available for the service. The titles range from the early days of the NES and Turbografx-16 up to the N64, which the Classic Controller handles almost to perfection.

The front of the controller
The front of the controller

The controller is durable as well. The controller worked like a charm after playing multiple sessions of Contra and Ninja Gaiden II, two games which have caused the destruction of thousand of controllers over the years. I threw the controller against a carpeted ground five times and against a sheet rock wall twice with no ill effects to the controller. Also, I used the controller with Super Smash Bros. The Classic Controller makes it easier to pull off combos than the Wii Remote/Nun chuck setup, which forces players to move the controller in the air a certain way to perform moves. The fighting style of the game is much more conducive to inputting commands with the multiple face buttons of the Classic Controller.

The major problem that holds back the Classic Controller is the actual design itself. After about an hour, the palms of my hands began to ache and my thumbs were cramping up. The dual analog sticks are too close together on the controller, causing the user to put their thumbs in an awkward position. The evolution of ergonomic controllers for other systems has left much to be desired with the Classic Controller.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Innovation

There really isn’t much innovation with the Classic Controller. It borrows heavily from the design of the SNES controller, as previously stated. Also, the addition of dual analog sticks and wireless play borrow from the evolution of controllers instituted by all three major console hardware manufacturers. While it might not be innovative, it gives owners of the Wii a great alternative for playing classic games without the use of the limited buttons on the Wii Remote. Because of the fact that it helps players enjoy classic games with a better controller than previously available at the time, the Classic Controller receives an average score in the Innovation category.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Social Benefit

In terms of the world of video games, the Classic Controller, in conjunction with Virtual Console, gives the average gamer access to a world of games that many of them have never played before. In order to understand the current state of the video game industry, one must look at the evolution of games and game play over the years. Playing classic games such as Super Mario Bros., Super Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario 64 can help gamers and designers see what made games so fun to play in the first place. If we can learn from the game design of all these classic video games, maybe someone will be able to make a game that stands out from the slew of yearly minimally updated sports games and the multitude of sequels that plague the current industry.

When thinking about the grand scheme of things, the fact that this controller, in conjunction with the Wii Remote, goes through so many batteries is a bad thing for the environment. I know that most people, including myself, usually toss batteries into the trash without a second thought about the hazardous material that we are contributing to trash dumps all over the world.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Freestyle!

As a serious player of classic and retro games, the Classic Controller is the best option currently available for the Wii. It is much better suited for the Virtual Console than any other controller setup for the Wii. However, I can’t give it a higher score only because the use of the controller is limited. Once more Wii games become compatible with the Classic Controller, then maybe the true potential of this small controller can be fully unlocked.

Score: 15 / 22

The Nintendo Wii Classic Controller is available at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Complete Score: 27.5 / 42 = 65.5%

iTunes 8.0: I Finally Have a Music Secretary

Complete Score: 33.5 / 42 = 79.8%

For years and years I’ve had too much music. In college it was around 50-60 GB and it was manageable only because I listened to enough music on a daily basis that I knew where everything was and could find what I wanted when I was in the mood for it. Over the years as that number has grown closer and closer to 100 GB it’s also decreased, exponentially, in manageability. Over the past year it devolved to the point where I did not know what songs I had anymore and just listened to the same old stuff over and over because I simply could not match my music to my mood. It sucked.

In comes iTunes 8.0, with it’s Genius assistance applied to music recommendation. For years I’ve said I desperately need a music secretary and now I have one!

Value

Well it’s free. Personally I always hated iTunes and did not understand the rave reviews people gave it…until I bought a Macbook Pro. With it’s Core 2 Duo processing power by Intel, my Macbook Pro finally clued me in that Apple’s software rocks…within the friendly confines of a well-powered Mac OS X installation. On Windows operating systems, iTunes was always slow and buggy for me, and from the many reviews out in the blogosphere, it still seems to be that way. On my Mac however it’s fast, zippy and mostly bug free.

Still, iTunes 8.0 does use resources, and considering that many people play music while focusing on something else it’s important to keep resource use down. Without the visualizer, iTunes 8.0 uses between 10 to 20% of my laptop’s processing power. Not bad considering I have over 95 gigabytes of tunes for it to manage. I also host my music collection on a 120 GB Western Digital USB powered external hard drive, so keep in mind that it’s not pulling my music from the Macbook Pro’s internal hard drive, thus increasing transfer time and power usage.

With the fancy new visualizer turned on, it stabilizes around 25% of my comptuer’s processing power according to iStat Pro. I did see the CPU usage spike all the way up to 50% however, especially on fast songs requiring lots of visual stimulation and changes. I am running the visualization on a 24″ Soyo monitor so it probably takes a bit more power to run it smoothly on such a display.

Ooooh pretty colors
Ooooh pretty colors

So keep in mind this rating is on a Macbook Pro running Mac OS X with 3 GB of RAM and 2.16 GHz of Intel Core 2 Duo processing power. On my computer, iTunes 8 is not too much of a resource hog. It could be more efficient, but it has yet to crash or spin the dreaded rainbow ball. Results may vary.

Score: 4 / 5

Quality

With the addition of Genius, iTunes goes beyond mere music management and becomes a companion in your music listening experience, nay journey. I love discovering new bands and new musical styles and now I can do so within the comforts of iTunes. Sure, it’s not going to recommend musicians outside the iTunes store and of course it struggles with artists who do not have agreements with Apple (the Beatles for one) but what it does work with it does well. Over time the system should only get better as more and more people send feedback to Apple, anonymously of course.

I’d like to see Apple add an option for Genius to match music by genre or mood. For instance, sometimes I just want to listen to a bunch of energetic music, whether it by hip-hop or indie rock or what have you. Other times I want to just chill and be lulled by gentle rhythms, whether they be acoustic folk rock or reggae.

An iTunes Genius generated playlist
An iTunes Genius generated playlist

One gripe I have, and it annoys the heck out of me, is that iTunes restarts any song I’m listening to if I decide to build a Genius playlist around it. Genius should be able to tell iTunes to keep playing my current song, transfer it to a genius playlist and then add the rest of the Genius recommendations to that playlist. As is, if I’m listening to my collection and hit a song I want to build a playlist around, it restarts that song and then adds other songs to the list. It’s annoying and a bit surprising coming from the ease of use experts.

Still, on a Mac you won’t find a better music player and manager. iTunes 8.0 does everything I need and want it to do and then some.

Score: 4 / 5

Innovation

While music recommendation systems are not new, integrating them within a music player is news to me and it’s about time someone jumped on this idea. With the iTunes store integrated into iTunes, the music recommendation system makes complete sense and will likely make Apple a lot of money.

Apple will make bank off the genius sidebar
Apple will make bank off the genius sidebar

There’s been a lot of buzz around the blogosphere about a few odd recommendations Genius makes, but for the most part I’ve found it’s at least in the ball park, even if it’s not always exactly on point. Perhaps, my massive music collection also gives Genius a greater sample size than other bloggers and reviewers. Or, I see music less as fitting into specific genres and instead all being somewhat connected. Right now I’m playing some Ben Harper and Genius recommends Jack Johnson, Grateful Dead, O.A.R., Wilco, and Ray LaMontagne. All those artists fit into a similar groove and if I was a fan of Ben Harper and never heard of the other artists, I’d agree that they’re similar and most fans of one will like the others. Let’s take a look at some other artists and the corresponding Genius iTunes store recommendations.

I choose:
Pearl Jam – I Am Mine

iTunes Genius store recommends:

  • Temple of the Dog
  • U2
  • Alice in Chains
  • Soundgarden
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Smashing Pumpkins

Pretty good but where is Eddie Vedder?

I choose:
Atmosphere – Always Coming Back Home to You

iTunes Genius store recommends:

  • Cunninglynguists
  • Living Legends
  • Dilated Peoples
  • Immortal Technique
  • Zion I
  • Murs & 9th Wonder

Pretty good.

I choose:
Dropkick Murphys – The State of Massachusetts

iTunes Genius store recommends:

  • The White Stripes
  • Against Me!
  • Social Distortion
  • The Hives
  • The Offspring
  • The Bravery
  • Reel Big Fish
  • Rancid

Not quite as good. The Bravery, Reel Big Fish, The Offspring, and The Hives all seem to be sub-par matches to the Dropkick Murphys. How about the the Street Dogs, Flogging Molly, or even the Mighty Mighty Bosstones ahead of these choices? Still, it’s not like iTunes Genius is way off base and of course, no music recommendation system is going to be perfect.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

It’s not open-source so iTunes 8 loses a half-point right off the bat. Now, I understand why Apple chooses a closed source format for iTunes, but since they do not provide alternatives to people running Linux we must dock them. It’s important because even though I run Mac OS X and Ubuntu (Linux) at my house, some people only run Linux and thus cannot use iTunes on their computers. Though many Linux users probably do not miss iTunes, the fact remains it limits it’s usefulness and prevents Linux users from accessing some features of their iPods and iPhones via their home computers.

There are many people who object to the lack of support for FLAC and other open-source music and media formats, and unfortunately Apple’s adoption of these formats will likely be slow, at best. Personally, most of my music collections is in mp3 format, ripped from my massive collection of compact discs, so the lack of support for FLAC, ogg-vorbis and other formats does not affect me directly, though I understand the frustration. There are plugins available to force FLAC support for iTunes, though an Apple solution would be much more elegant and user friendly.

The iTunes store is great for reducing consumer waste by offering digital media instead of CDs and DVDs, however the Digital Rights Management restriction placed upon purchased content means you must continue using iTunes for your purchased media to keep working. We here at OTIBR believe that content you’ve paid for should be yours and that you should have the freedom to decide which device to use to view or listen to that content. The DRM software coupled with many iTunes store purchases prevents users from taking their media with them and in essence means you’re actually renting not buying any content purchased from Apple. EMI and Apple took a great step forward towards a DRM-free future but we’re not there yet and until we are, we’ll have to deduct points here.

Apple’s environmental record has been lambasted by numerous groups, including Greenpeace and Climate Counts. On the other hand the Environmental Protection Agency does rate Apple at the top of the industry in terms of lowest negative environmental impact for its line of laptops and ranks them highly for their other products. It’s tough to gauge the true impact Apple has on the environment but when they have products whose batteries are tough to replace (leading to consumers tossing or replacing those products when the battery dies) and stores that are constantly lit up nice and bright like the big Apple store on Boylston street in Boston, it’s tough to call Apple a green company by any means.

Looking purely at iTunes, as I stated in the value section it is a resource hog. Compared to more efficient and streamlined open source players, iTunes has a much worse impact via its higher energy demand. It’s certainly not the worst piece of software out there but it’s nowhere near the best either. Considering its’ closed structure, reliance on DRM, and high resource use, it’s tough to give iTunes anything above a 1.5. It helps users find music they like and provides artists a digital marketplace but with all the negatives I simply cannot rate iTunes above a one and a half for social impact.

Score: 1.5 / 5

Freestyle!

Honestly, there’s not much here for me to personally hate about iTunes 8.0, aside from it’s poor social impact. I could rail on the uselessness of the new grid view, but even that feature is at least an improvement on the even more useless album view. Still, I’m sure some people enjoy browsing their music view album art and it doesn’t detract from my experience so it’s a non issue.

If my music player plays my music and doesn’t freeze or slow down itself or the rest of my computer I’m quite happy. Now that iTunes also acts more like a music secretary, scheduling my future music listens for me, well it jumped up and made me pay attention and notice it. The genius feature is simple, and honestly still growing, but it’s provided me the one feature that I desperately needed in my music management, the out-sourcing of what to listen to. It sounds awful when I write it like that, but when I’m working on something else I just want to start with a song and let the music build itself around that mood. Fantastic job Apple, you’ve brought the joy back into my music listening habitjourney. I have to dock iTunes 8 for it’s social harms but even still it’s a great piece of software. Now if Apple can make it more energy efficient and remove the DRM from the iTunes store it’d be near perfect.

Score: 20 / 22

iTunes 8.0 is available for download from the Apple web-site.

Complete Score: 33.5 / 42 = 79.8%

Organic Australian Blood Oranges: Bloody Delicious!

Complete Score: 36.5 / 42 = 86.9%

While perusing the aisles of Whole Foods earlier this evening my eyes came across a sinister sounding citrus fruit, the organic Australian blood orange. I actually kept walking and within a few steps stopped and said, wait a minute, a blood orange?

I backed up and sure enough the sign said blood oranges and even the outer skin of the orange was in fact, bloody red. These oranges were a fruit I had to try and so I tossed three in my basket and made my way through the rest of the store.

Value

Whenever I shop at Whole Foods I nearly always spend more than I planned to. Still, I’m nearly always satisfied and feel the few extra dollars were worth it. The blood oranges registered at $3.99 a pound. My three medium sized oranges totaled 1.22 lbs costing me $4.87 total. At $1.63 per orange these little suckers cannot be called cheap. Still considering they are organic and shipped half way across the world to satisfy my hunger, $3.99 per pound is a relative bargain.

Organic Australian Blood Orange
Organic Australian Blood Orange

After devouring these delicious bloody oranges, I did a little bit of research on Wikipedia and found that blood oranges usually obtain their tell-tale color via a pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment not only gives these oranges a unique color but it is also an antioxidant, which many people now believe has a ton of disease fighting properties. Personally, I’m a big fan of antioxidants and find foods and drinks that contain them do make me feel better and give me a nice energy boost.

Wikipedia went on to state that a medium sized orange will contain about 130% of one’s daily Vitamin C requirement, 15% of one’s potassium and 28% of one’s daily dietary fiber requirement. For $1.63, that’s a fairly large amount of nutrients. I’m also a big fan of organic produce and feel it tastes better and believe it is healthier than conventionally grown produce. Considering the amount of nutrients per orange, and the taste and health benefits of organic produce, the price is worth it.

Score: 4 / 5

Quality

Wow, these things were bloody delicious! My first bite instantly reminded me of a tangerine flavor, and indeed Wikipedia hypothesizes these oranges were an ancient hybrid between a pomelo and a tangerine. These oranges have a sweet refreshing taste with much less acidity than oranges I normally eat. As you can see from the picture above, there are literally rivers of moisture pumping through its fibrous interior.

Due to their unique color and sweet taste, blood oranges make for a great juice and would go well in many recipes, from jams and marmalade to cakes and sweets. Personally, these oranges were so good raw I’d recommend just slicing them up and mowing ’em down.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Innovation

Well, blood oranges are certainly not new to the world nor the marketplace, so they are certainly not innovative in the traditional sense. However, organic produce and the massive global distribution of it is innovative in business terms, though organic farming is not new. Over the past couple of years, consumers have demanded and bought more organic foods and companies have provided more and more organic selections. It’s a good trend and perhaps one day all our food will simply be organic.

Hmm...
Hmm...bloody and yummy!

We also should consider that breeding the pomelo and tangerine, or whichever fruits the breeders actually used, is innovative and brought us this great tasting fruit.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

Organic produce is good for us and for our environments, so Global Organics NZ Limited gets credit for using organic processes for all of their foods and Whole Foods gets credit for stocking organic produce. Still, the USA has regions where these blood oranges could have been grown, and in fact blood oranges are grown in parts of California and Florida. Locally grown foods are much better for us as they are fresher and better for the environment as less resources are needed to transport the food from farm to plate.

Still, I have to wonder how the taste varies from regions here to Australia. My experience has been that Australia and New Zealand produce very good tasting fruits and perhaps their soil and climate is better suited to grow these blood oranges. If they have an absolute advantage for growing this brand of blood orange, does it overtake the comparative advantage of growing them closer to home?

If Australian blood oranges taste much better than homegrown oranges, they would likely encourage more people to eat oranges rather than some other alternative. In a nation with a huge obesity epidemic, it is tough to fault Global Organics NZ LTD for being a member of the global economy while we have much more crucial social issues to deal with at the moment.

Global Organics does take steps to reduce its footprint, for instance using recyclable packaging and composting. It won’t completely offset the fossil fuels used to transport their produce worldwide but it’s a good start. As is, the energy used to transport organic blood oranges from Australia is simply not the most pressing social issue of our time. Note, after this review was published Global Organics informed us that these oranges are sent via sea freight, as is most produce out of New Zealand and Australia. As shipping via sea contributes less carbon per tonne shipped than shipping via air, we’ve increased the social benefit score for these oranges to a 4.

Score: 4 / 5

Freestyle!

I love oranges. There is nothing quite like a tall glass of fresh OJ or a nice juicy orange to renew your senses and refresh your taste buds. Having tasted many oranges in my life, from the days of sucking back orange slices at half-time of high school football games to the morning after glass of orange juice, whenever I really need a blast of energy oranges are the first food I reach for.

These organic blood oranges from Australia, produced and distributed by Global Organics NZ LTD, are among the best oranges I’ve had. Just take a look at the picture at the top of this review and tell me that orange does not look delicious. Go ahead, I dare you.

Score: 20 / 22

Organic Australian Blood Oranges are produced and distributed by Global Organics NZ LTD and sold by Whole Foods Market and other retailers worldwide.

Complete Score: 36.5 / 42 = 86.9%

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