Why I may cancel my graze box subscription

Updated to include the reply from graze

Subscription boxes have been a popular trend for a while now. There are a ton of beauty ones, among other types. When I had the opportunity to try graze boxes, though, I was really excited. For one thing, the snacks looked very unique. Here’s an example of a recent box I received. The food is fresh, and the flavors are good. I haven’t liked every snack, but many of them are really tasty. Plus, you can customize your preferences even before you get your first box, which is awesome. It’s also only $5 per box, and while it’s a little pricey for the size of the snack, I live in a rural area and getting a lot of the items in these boxes would be expensive, or even impossible. Additionally, you can get a box once a month, every week or every other week, and this flexibility appealed to me. Right now I’ve been doing every other week. Getting a graze subscription currently requires an invite code from another subscriber. Each new subscriber gets one invite, and occasionally they give you a way to earn an additional invite. This makes finding a graze invite challenging, and of course, the exclusivity has increased the appeal for many.

Every graze box includes a napkin, four individually packaged snacks and a booklet. The booklets have been fairly silly overall, but they are cute. However, this was part of my most recent booklet and it deeply troubled me (click the image to see it larger).

Graze

I was so frustrated and annoyed by this that I decided to write the people at graze an email. Here is what that email said.

I wanted to bring to your attention something that has me very troubled, and even has me considering canceling my subscription. I have battled an eating disorder most of my life. It’s taken me years to see food as something fun, enjoyable and that will fuel my body.

I subscribed to graze as a way to get some unique, fun snacks. I love getting packages, and it gives me something to look forward to, in addition to being a neat way to try new foods.

However, the attached file, from my latest graze box really troubled me. It took me years to not see foods as “good” vs. “bad.” I eat what I like. If I choose to eat a healthier snack, it’s because it’s what I want. But I refuse to be made to feel as though I’m being “bad” if I choose to eat a candy bar or chips.

Calling graze snacks “heroic” is a bit of a stretch at any rate, but to classify an entire range of snack foods as “villainous” is ridiculous and upsetting. I can guarantee you that this comparison is a trigger for thousands upon thousands of people like me, who have worked hard to battle eating disorders. Worse, it feeds the idea of “bad” foods for those who don’t yet realize that they are battling an eating disorder.

Obviously, as a company you’re entitled to market your graze boxes however you see fit. Graze is hardly the first company to attempt to alleviate our “guilt” about eating, and it won’t be the last. But it would be nice if you could consider that how you word things really can have a very negative impact on the people who pay for your product.

I’ll be basing my decision to cancel on the response to this email. There are so many people like me, and many of them may not be in as strong of a place as I am in terms of how influenced by this “villainous” vs. “heroic” campaign they are. Please consider focusing on the actual health benefits of your snacks, as opposed to marketing gimmicks that feed into unhealthy emotional judgments about food.

Sincerely,
Jessica

We’ll see what their response is, but I may very well be canceling the subscription after this. I refuse to participate in a campaign of food bashing, and by paying graze for my boxes, I feel like that’s what I’d be doing. Considering how elusive invitations are to join graze, and how many people would probably pay me for one, it saddens me to cancel but I am not going to be made to feel like I’m committing a crime if I choose to eat chips. And I’m sure as hell not going to PAY a company that vilifies food. I’ve learned to avoid things marketed this way in stores, as they are big time triggers for me. I’ll be sure to post a follow up, assuming they ever reply to my email.

*Update*

I got a quick response, so I’ll give them credit for being prompt. That said, I’m underwhelmed by the substance of the reply.

Dear Jessica,

Thanks so much for sending us your sincere thoughts, and for sharing with us your story of how you’ve worked incredibly hard to overcome an eating disorder.

We’re really sorry that our Super Swaps nutrition booklet wasn’t positive or helpful towards your graze experience. It’s really good to hear that you actually enjoyed your graze snacks so far and that it has provided some fun and excitement, but we can understand how the slogan might have some uncomfortable connotations. I can assure you that we do not intend to label any of our foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but that we just try to separate ourselves from other snack foods you can find in stores which are higher in calories, fat, or sugar. We completely agree that there are no good or bad foods and that it’s important to keep an open mind about what the different dietary needs of our grazers are.

For many of our grazers, our snacks are a lot healthier than the ones you’d find in the supermarket. We always have our grazers in mind when creating new snacks, and do seek out suppliers who aim for the highest quality nibbles.

Graze is all about healthy eating, so you can see that we were simply trying to break down any barriers some folks might have about including smaller portions of some foods traditionally seen as ‘bad,’ such as chocolate, in a healthy diet. For us, it’s all about variety and balance, with the odd treat thrown in once in a while. For some of our grazers, they want to be reminded that they’re making some smart ‘swaps’ as it reinforces the idea that they’re treating their bodies and minds well. We do go into the health benefits of our snacks here but we also like to have some fun with our snacks, which is why we include booklets like the Super Swaps one.

Once again we’re really sorry and hope that grazing can continue to still be a fun and positive experience for you. I’ve made sure to share your feedback with our marketing team to see how we can improve our messages.
Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

All the best,

(name removed by me)

I kind of feel as though this reply says, “we know some of our members see these foods as being ‘bad’ choices, and we’re reinforcing that belief for them!’” Which is my entire point… there are people who DO see food as “bad” vs. “good.” and I am just not a fan of that mentality. I think it’s incredibly unhealthy. You can choose to focus on healthier foods, but once you begin to add emotional judgments to food, it gets complicated, and it can fuel disordered eating behaviors that no one should have to face. I’m feeling as though this reply is a mixed message, at best. I’m likely to cancel my subscription. For now, I’ve pushed back my next shipment to July and have changed to once a month, instead of every two weeks. This gives me time to consider whether or not graze is a company I want to continue to support.

~JK

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17 thoughts on “Why I may cancel my graze box subscription

  1. Hawkface says:

    Hello Jess. I stumbled upon your blog while researching Graze. I clicked to see what was in your box and wouldn’t you know it, it let me sign up. I realized now that I may have ‘stolen’ your invitation as you may have inadvertently given out the invite, while meaning to only share the box contents. So sorry about that if this is an issue. Despite your moral concerns, I’d like to take the service for a spin. If you want, you can use ‘my’ invite that I can send over, if that works. Or whatever you think would work best.

    Thanks, you have my email.

    • I wondered how that got used… lol. Not a problem at all. I hope you find it to be a good experience for you! Honestly, after about 6 boxes, I have to say it wasn’t worth the money even aside from my concerns over their mixed messages.

  2. Peter says:

    I just stumbled across this blog in researching Graze. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for years and still struggles to this day, I would just say that we are all responsible for our own feelings. I’ll write that one more time: we are responsible for our own feelings. Graze cannot “make” you “feel bad” about anything. You own those feelings — Graze does not.

    • Peter, I don’t disagree with you. However, graze is in a position to help foster growth of new, healthier mindsets. I did not particularly care for how they chose to handle this responsibility, and so I unsubscribed. However, it wasn’t the only reason. You get very little for your $5, and much of the snacks I tried I did not like. This particular issue with their decision to give food moral judgments was just the final straw for me.

      I absolutely own my feelings, and I have the right to not support a company that feeds into a vicious cycle of negative self-talk for so many. I am able to rise above that, as you obviously are, too. Not everyone can, however. Eating disorders are insidious things with their own “voice,” and when you are in the throes of an active one, it is easier to fall prey to those who would victimize your emotional angst.

  3. Amy says:

    You’re being way over reactive to this subject. I’m surprised they replied to you so friendly as they did (though it must have been hard). To cancel your subscription over a (as you admitted) *silly* booklet, you are too ridiculous. There is a reason good foods are good, and bad foods are bad. If you’re too sensitive to accept that certain foods are better than others, than maybe you should go back to your eating disorder.

    • Well, aren’t you a lovely, charming person. I certainly hope no one close to you ever suffers from an eating disorder. I’d hate think that anyone who has been through that hell would need to rely on YOU for support.

      • Hello Jessica,

        I too have struggled with eating disorders my whole life but I completely agree with Amy. her point is re-enforced by your rude reply. I think that Graze’s reply wasn’t overwhelming. If you look at any ‘health food’ company, they are going to try to distance themselves from the alternative options by making the health benefits the center of their advertising. One of the first things I learned in counselling for my eating disorders is that I can’t blame the industry and others for my view of food and myself. I allowed others to make me feel this way and it is my responsibility to myself to not always search for those things that make me feel negatively. Instead, you need to educate yourself on food and to re-condition your responses in turn.

      • Tatiana,

        I disagree with your assertion. First off, I didn’t “search” for this negativity. It was mailed to me as part of a product I paid for, and I was unimpressed with the message. I have every right, as a paying customer, to make this known to the company. Secondly, I reject the premise that I have to accept mixed messages about health or beauty or any damn thing. I don’t. I have a voice, and I am allowed to use it. I choose to try to show things in a different light. You are, of course, allowed to decide that it’s your fault if a message makes you feel badly, and that the company or person who said or did that offending thing is not in the wrong. But I don’t see it that way. I think that there is a better way, one that can be more positive for everyone.

        My eating disorder therapist has a very, very different perspective than yours, clearly, as she believes the industry DOES need to change and IS to blame for a lot of what is wrong with how society treats people regards to looks and weight and food. She’d never have suggested that I just needed to sit back and “reframe” my feelings. As for what I “need” to do, you don’t get to tell me that. Not anymore than I get to tell you that you NEED to not sit back and take it. You get to do what is best for YOU. As for me, I will continue to push, to protest and to do everything I can to help people see there is another way to go, and it’s not one of shame, but one of acceptance.

      • To Amy,
        The last sentence of your response was disgusting. I can’t believe you would even say something like that. I wouldn’t even expect that to come from a child before they develop a sense of right and wrong. I hope you aren’t that ugly of a person in your normal life.

    • Amy, I don’t see how you could possibly consider your response to be constructive. I found myself wondering how much or how deeply you had thought before writing, “There is a reason good foods are good, and bad foods are bad.”

      Perhaps you might consider really taking a look at how our attitudes about various food choices are formed. Do you ever question the messages you are given about food? Do you recognize that foods cannot be judged on a binary system (good/bad) and that there are numerous categories of assessment in play when considering what food to eat (nutrition, flavor, association, etc.)?

      I hope you can take this opportunity to consider examining the topic in more detail and the next time a this subject comes up, perhaps you will respond with more compassion and with at least the appearance of knowing what you’re talking about.

    • Michele says:

      Why would you tell someone to “go back to [her] eating disorder?” It’s one thing to disagree with her and believe she is overreacting, but to belittle someone over something as personal and painful as an eating disorder, is completely insensitive. You should learn to play nice with others.

    • Tara says:

      Wow, how very irresponsible and disrespectful. Telling someone to go back to their eating disorder? Is this for real? Do you realize that people die from eating disorders?

      Assigning binary values of “good” and “bad” to food and changing the marker by which the foods are thus labeled is not helpful to people wishing to eat healthful foods. Not to mention can be damaging to the psyche of a person who is recovering from an eating disorder.

      Apples are labeled by many to be “good.” However it is not healthy to eat just apples for the rest of one’s life. A few years ago the yolk of an egg was vilified. Recently the trend has changed and the entire egg is again “good.”

      If we changed our eating parameters every time changes were made by an arbitrary group of people with regard to what is “good” and “bad” … would we then be saying that we were “bad” before, and are now “good?” Does that change how “good” or “bad” we are for our past food choices?

      And just what are we supposed to do when we eat a “bad” food, whether it’s food we ate before it was labeled “bad” or after? Are we supposed to do penance? And just what is that penance? Can you see how such wording can cause a negative affect, to even a person who is not recovering from an eating disorder?

    • I am *gobsmacked* at your horrible and callous reply. Whatever has happened in your life to make you into such an ugly person inside….well, I can only pray you’ll find some healing. That was simply an unspeakable comment and positively inhumane. I can only presume you have never experienced the horror that is an eating disorder, or you would never have written what you did. I hope you have a chance to learn from the responses here.

  4. Some people believe some foods are better than others, but have no emotional attachment when acknowledging that. Just like some people believe some foods are better than others, but do have an emotional attachment when acknowledging that. And then there are the people who don’t have any emotional attachment to food and they don’t think certain food items are better or worse than other food items. In saying that, I do respect and understand what you feel and think when it comes to food, but that is one relationship with food of many different relationships. I don’t think it’s right or wrong, it’s just a personal preference. However, the thing is that when it comes to diet and exercise we often think our personal preferences are right, we go as far as to say that they’re right for others, if not everyone, and whoever doesn’t disagree is wrong. And that’s when it gets touchy for people. This whole thing of people who pass judgement about diet and exercise also thinking that they’re being judged, so they’re telling those that judge them to not judge them while they, themselves judge others, if not the exact same people that have judged them. It’s madness! It really is. It’s a situation without no beginning or end. In saying that, your relationship with food is your relationship with food. What is most important is your relationship with food, not anyone else’s. If you want to cancel, cancel. They offended you and you have the right to be offended, while people like me will keep getting the boxes because I love them. There is no right or wrong, no matter how much people judge you and they will or you judge them and you will. Especially when it comes to diet and exercise. It’s the “thing” now to just look at someone and think their eating habits and activity levels are unhealthy or healthy. When I personally think everyone should mind their own business and only concern themselves with their eating habits and activity levels because there are a lot of ways to eat and exercise, and none of them are good or bad, with the expectation of the obvious few that are not commonly emotionally and physically uplifting, but even then it’s that person’s personal preference. I am sorry you had a bad experience. Maybe try Gobites or Watanut.

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