Social Networking!

July 26, 2009

BlogHer ended with an appropriate dose of major social networking – in the form of wild parties!

……..

Guess who made a guest appearance!

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Paula Deen herself!! I got to see her speak on behalf of Wal-Mart. She’s just like you’d imagine her!

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After lunch I appropriately went to a session on Food Blogging led by:

Elise Bauer, “Biggie”, Hetel Jannu, Michelle Lentz, Stephanie O’Dea

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Some notes + blogs from the discussion on food blogging during the recession:

  • Keep the fat on chicken stock to preserve it from air and bacteria
  • Use whole spices – they last longer, are cheaper and taste better!
  • $5 Dinners
  • Once A Month Mom (if you make things in advance and freeze them, she would love to feature your recipes!)
  • The Perfect Pantry
  • Food Blog Search =a search engine of tons of food blogs for recipes!

The final session of the day was on the FTC regulations that are likely being passed to include blogs. The big ticket item is that all compensated posts – in the form of monetary payment, free sample or giveaway – must be disclosed to the audience. So that means if you get a free box of cereal from a PR company, you are required to let your readers know it was a free sample in the review. This hopefully minimizes any assumptions your readers might have about the product given that it was free compared to if you had bought it yourself and protects you and your readers from liability suits. I’m thinking of adding a disclaimer to KERF to remind you all that….

  1. I only review products that I feel fit with my “eat real food’” (or pretty darn close to it) theme.
  2. I almost always (and I say almost just in case I forgot sometime) say that products were given to me for free to try out.
  3. I absolutely would not write a good review about a product simply because it was free – my reviews are always my own opinions and while I have gotten a few “bad” products that I chose simply not to blog about, I always give my honest opinion.
  4. I do not accept payment to write good things about a product. If I like something, I really do like it.
  5. I believe firmly in keeping the integrity of my blog and would never compromise my beliefs and standards for the sake of a payment.

There was actually some discussion about freebies on blogs at the sessions, and it seemed there were several in the room that were very much against giveaways, product reviews and all freebies. As you guys know, these are a huge part of the food blog world, and I feel that being able to sample products and give opinions is a great way to give you guys an idea of what is good and what is just “meh.” I like reading your reviews too!! There seems to be a negativity against products in the BlogHer community that was very evident today. (FYI, to join their ad network, they have very strict guidelines about free samples and giveaway and where they can go).

I had a mini breakdown at the end of the session. I felt that everyone in the room was against me and KERF because I review products and took it too personally. Afterwards I talked to Lisa Stone, CEO and founder of BlogHer, and she assured me that product reviews have their time and place and our blogs serve as a medium to deliver them. After talking to Lisa, I felt much better. It wasn’t the best way to end the conference though :( What do you guys think about product reviews and giveaways on blogs? Do they enhance or cheapen the community?

After a quick change of clothes, I met Jenn back in the ballroom for the closing keynote on the future of media. She had snagged a few huge cookies for snack time! I had just brushed my teeth, but these were too good not to nibble –

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After the keynote we went to the closing cocktail party. Another disappointment!! Remember how last year it was in Macy’s!?! Tonight was just a repeat of last night – more fried food and not much of a dinner. I don’t know if it was BlogHer or the hotel, but bummer.

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I got a glass of Merlot that hit the spot

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We snuck out of the party to go to dinner with a few friends – including the famous Mara!! We walked a few blocks to a sushi restaurant and I dined with Roni, MizFit, Mara, Jenn and Mary.

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Thank you so much Roni for treating us!!!

We started with some edamame and seaweed salads

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And shared a bit plate of sushi. It was the perfect amount of light food to carry me through :)

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I had one of each kind

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Plus one more delicious tempura salmon crunch!

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Jenn and I left a little early to check in with the Lucky Strike BowlHer party before our blog meetup.Thanks again to Traveling Mom for getting us on “the list!””

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I got covered head-to-toe in glitter!!! Love it!

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Now THAT’s WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!

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This was a real party. It should have been the official one!! The hostesses of the event did a fabulous job!

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There were sweet Goldfish everywhere :) I had way too many handfuls.

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More sponsor snacks- blurry Hostess

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And Campbells

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Dolls

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And CHOCOLATE!!! Hershey’s.

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And make-up!

Jenn and I got glasses of wine (complimentary!! Sweet!! There sure was enough alcohol this year) and each had a small piece of pizza and a skewer

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We stuck around the party gathering swag and waiting for the official swag bags to be released. We got a ton of loot! Chocolate, shampoo, nail polish, glass, makeup, a cute bowling bag.

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While we were waiting on the swag, I had readers waiting on my at the hotel bar!! So embarrassed to be late to my own meet-up, but thank you to these awesome ladies for coming in to meet me on such a late night!!

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After chatting for a while, we headed up to yet another party – the CheeseburgHer Party in a presidential suite!

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I believe McDonald’s was the sponsor!?

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It totally smelled (and looked!) like college in there!!

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Is this not the most beautiful wine bottle EVER!?

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I had to get a little in this plastic stemless glass! But I quickly switched over to water.

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Still sparking with pink feathers!

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KERF readers!

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Mara brought me this awesome Chicago Starbucks mug! And MarathonVal made chocolately bites!! Thanks guys!!

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All of my swag – must weigh 25 pounds!

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Boy am I tired. I haven’t decided if I’m running tomorrow. I think I’m going to sleep in and rest in this huge comfy bed, but if I wake up early naturally, I”ll go.

Good night BlogHers!

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{ 164 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lynn (The Actors Diet) July 26, 2009 at 12:55 am

good luck getting all that swag home!!!

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2 Maya July 26, 2009 at 1:10 am

I really like the sample reviews! Often times if I read a positive review from you or other bloggers I try and check out that product if I can. And I always trusted your blogger integrity I never thought that you would post a positive review just because you received a free sample. I think many other readers will feel the same way, don’t stress!

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3 Emily July 26, 2009 at 1:10 am

Kath! So great to meet you and the other readers. That CheezburgHer party was ridiculous! So funny. Safe travels back!

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4 Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl July 26, 2009 at 1:33 am

Paula Deen? Awesome!!! :-)

Gosh, Kath, I hate that you felt like everyone was against you and KERF — that’s never a good feeling. :-(

I LOVE that you review stuff! I review stuff, too. I do tell my readers that so-and-so company sent it for me to review. I also tell them that the company is sponsoring the contest. I also mention stuff I buy myself when sharing foods I love, etc.

I’m glad you had lots of fun and got tons of great stuff, though!!!! :-)

*smiles*
Michele
aka Raw Juice Girl

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5 Madelin @ What is for breakfast? July 26, 2009 at 1:39 am

I love your product reviews Kath and your blog, don’t change a thing :)

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6 Kate July 26, 2009 at 2:03 am

Kath,

I have been reading your blog for nearly a year and a half now. I have tremendous respect for the time and dedication you give to this blog. I study food policy and you have been an inspiration to me in regards to your dedication to eating whole foods.

That said, I have found that you have been reviewing/eating more packaged/processed foods recently. The majority in the form of bars. I want you to be able to make a living off the blog, especially given the high quality of your work. I just don’t want to feel like I am reading a advertisement. I understand the difficult the place you may be in regarding taking/reviewing free samples. I don’t envy you. However, I do think that full disclosure on your part will help your readers understand that everything is a reflection of your true voice.

I have deep respect for you and all that you do. I have truly enjoyed getting to know you and your eating habits. They have fundamental impacted my own eating choices. Please keep up the fantastic work and I wish you all the best success.

Kind Regards,
Kate

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7 Laura July 26, 2009 at 2:42 am

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the product reviews; I feel like they make the blogs seem very commercial and much of a muchness to each other. However, I’ve never felt that you *push* products at your readers and you certainly don’t do anything that other bloggers don’t do also, so I don’t think you need to feel guilty about it!

What *I* feel guilty about is that despite being a very health-conscious vegetarian who hasn’t touched fast food in about five years, I still look at that pile of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and can just about smell them! Questionable red meat, plastic cheese, overly processed bun – I know it’s not “real food” in any form and I wouldn’t actually eat it, but still, I think it’s the nostalgia at work!

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8 Andrea of Care to Eat July 26, 2009 at 2:46 am

I think as long as you accept products you genuinely are interested in trying and do giveaways for products you are genuinely interested in sharing with your readers, you have nothing to worry about. It works both ways too – as a blogger, I won’t “enter” a giveaway on another blog unless it’s something I really want. Bottom line, this is YOUR blog – and it’s obvious you’re doing something right!

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9 Crunchy Granola Gal July 26, 2009 at 2:48 am

Kath,
I am glad you bring up the issue of freebies and give-a-ways. While they are great incentives for reading/ following a blog, I do feel sometimes it is just a shameless form of advertising that is a disturbance/ stray from the usual content. Sometimes it feels like a cheap plug. I am not directing this comment toward you — you don’t seem to do this in the same manner that I’ve seen on other blogs. Nonetheless, thank you for bringing up this somewhat controversial, though (in the bigger picture) inconsequential, issue!
-Sofia

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10 Erin July 26, 2009 at 3:50 am

I always enjoy your blog and the posts containing tips from the convention have been SO helpful over the past couple of days. I’m learning a lot and loving your blog at the same time.

Keep doin’ what you’re doin’…

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11 sarah (ghost world) July 26, 2009 at 3:59 am

i say you should not feel at all bad about the products! one of the reasons everyone loves your site IS your honesty and integrity, and it shines through whether or not you are sampling things that are sent to you or not.

personally, i like reading your reviews and i can tell that you would never sugar-coat things if you didn’t like something. other blogs don’t necessarily handle these things with the same level of grace but i think you’ve done an amazing job with it!

loved the BlogHer tour — looked like a ton of fun!

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12 faith July 26, 2009 at 5:04 am

oh man paula deene, how much butta was in the house??

i love reviews and giveaways! i’m doing them on my blog, and i keep the integrity as well, i give the facts-i’m not going to say i like something regardless if i got it for free or not. even when i work at caribou, i wont sell osmething to a customer if i dont like it or believe in it if i dont think they wil like it. i live a life of authenticit!

sampling is a great way to try out products. and when half of this organic stuff starts at around $5, its a real bummer when you go out and get it to find out it really sucks, so i think reviews from others that share your tastebuds are great! also when you can get small samples and share that, then you can share expense! plus, it feels great to win things! i mean, the chances of winning the lotto are slim, but winning a powerbar can sure make your day once in awhile!

man, i want to go to blogher next year, that sounded like so much fun!!! safe travels home, i hope to get a recap, hope all that swag doesnt put your bag overweight :)

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13 Ada July 26, 2009 at 5:32 am

I really like the product reviews and giveaways. One of the main reasons I enjoy reading the blog is that I learn about new products and ways to use them.

Blogher looked like it was a blast! Have a safe trip home:)

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14 Laine July 26, 2009 at 5:41 am

Funny that the people holding Blogher didn’t seem to have a problem with all the sponsers and free swag and giveaways at their event. Did all that stuff take away from the feel of community. I wonder if giveaways and reviews on sites interfere with their advertising income and that is why they are so against them.

KERF is great just the way it is.

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15 Tanya July 26, 2009 at 5:46 am

Aahh – I only review products on my blog :-) That said, I’m with Laine – people don’t have a problem going to sponsored events and taking all that free ish.

I think you will never be able to please everyone and it’s your blog so do as you please. How else would people find out about great or mediocre products? I know when I’m looking at reviews, I look at a few of them before deciding what to do – so I can usually weed out the “I got this for free so I’m going to give it a good review” crap.

That said, I do have a problem with a review which includes a $100 giveaway for example – no way that could be impartial. It will never be “this product sucked, but the company would like to give you $100.” (not directed at you :-)

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16 M July 26, 2009 at 5:58 am

My first thoughts were pretty much what Laine posted — it’s a little curious that they’re rallying against how blogs with reviews and giveaways are selling out, when they’re sending everyone home with 50 pounds of free products and there are advertisements every where you look!

That said, I appreciate reviews but, for some blogs, I definitely wonder whether a blogger is going so over the top on how great something is just to get more from the company.
But for the most part, it seems dictated by the manufacturers; they want you to review products, so they send them to you. Period.

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17 M July 26, 2009 at 6:03 am

Actually, one thing i have wondered about is taxes. Being a blogger does not necessarily equal being an accountant, so I’ve always wondered whether the blogging community reports the income it takes in from blogs. I guess if there’s a crackdown on that, we’ll know!

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18 Susan July 26, 2009 at 6:09 am

Ha, I love they were giving you a hard time about accepting free stuff for your blog, but the conference was full of free swag!! :P

I’ve never thought of product reviews like that before… I actually really enjoy the reviews and giveaways. One of the reasons I love food blogs is because it introduces me to both new foods AND products. I just always assumed bloggers were honest about the free stuff because everyone I read says it was free!

I definitely have a lot more respect for those who give honest reviews rather than an advertisement though. I never feel obliged to give a positive review of something just because I got the product for free. It’s the risk the company takes by offerering it to me – they need to be confident enough in the product that I’ll tell the world it’s awesome :)

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19 Christie @ Quit Your Diet July 26, 2009 at 6:17 am

I’m sorry that you felt like an outsider in that particular program. I had no idea that product reviews/samples was such a hot topic! While I do think that you represent how it should be, I actually think that you are the exception and not the rule. There are certain blogs that give good reviews to everything they are sent and some are not really clear about if they got whatever for free.

With that said, I enjoy reading product reviews and some of the contests. I have learned about some really great products through the food blogging community and enjoy doing reviews on my blog. I also think that contests and giveaways are a great way to build a sense of community and are fun to participate (and win!) Like Andrea, I don’t enter the ones that I am not interested in but I do think they are fun.

Travel safe!

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20 Aimee July 26, 2009 at 6:24 am

I love product reviews and giveaways because I have learned about so many wonderful products that I wouldn’t have tried if I didn’t read about them on blogs!

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21 Lauren July 26, 2009 at 6:38 am

I really appreciate your product reviews. I absolutely trust you to follow your own guidelines (the ones that you listed in your post) and give us your honest opinion. I am really struggling to implement healthier habits in my life, and I take inspiration from you and other food bloggers. Your seal of approval on a product definitely means something to me, and I hope that you keep the reviews coming.

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22 Kayla July 26, 2009 at 6:42 am

Hey lady! First of all, look how HUGELY successful your blog is! I think you have an amazing instinct for what works well for you & your blog. I think so many of your readers(myself included!) are so attracted to your blog BC of your integrity and authenticity, and you have absolutely nothing to worry about! I hope that you’re feeling 100% better about your choice to do the giveaways/freebie reviews etc, if that would deter anyone away from your blog, which is so much more than giveaways, then they don’t see your blogs true intention, and that’s okay, because for every 1 of them there are 12578865 of us who get it!! :)

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23 KatieMoo July 26, 2009 at 7:03 am

I think that getting free products and reviewing them definitely enhances the blog… it’s our way to hear about new items before they are out… and it’s fun!

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24 KatieF July 26, 2009 at 7:26 am

I would like to echo what Kate said about the product reviews. I don’t mind them every once in awhile, and sometimes I even find them useful. But I think it’s a very fine line between them being helpful and cheapening the blog experience. In my opinion, you have rarely, if ever, crossed this line. But, there are other food bloggers who come across as raving about every single thing they try and to me, it makes them appear less genuine.

I think these regulations could be helpful. I think full disclosure would increase the genuineness of the blogs. An example: one thing I’ve noticed is that ever since Stonyfield was announced as the sponsor for the Healthy Living Summit, Oikos seems to have become the only Greek yogurt I see on most of the “host bloggers” blogs. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Oikos (I like it myself), but if Stonyfield is compensating the bloggers, be it with coupons, free yogurt, or money, it would be nice to see that displayed somewhere. It is prominently displayed that they are sponsoring the Summit, but it is not if they are sponsoring any or all of the bloggers involved. This is just an example of something that appears like it might be a plug, I don’t even know if this is actually the case or not. But in the end, unless things like this are outright disclosed, it’s appearances that matter.

Kath, this is by no means meant to be any sort of attack on you or meanness towards you. I think you do a phenomenal job!!! My point is that I think that some sore of disclosure statement displayed prominently on a blog would increase the honest factor of any food blogger that does reviews.

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25 Erica July 26, 2009 at 7:32 am

“It totally smelled (and looked!) like college in there!!” made me laugh out loud. :)

Looks like you’re having a killer time! With Paula Deen (eeee!) and all that free stuff, how could you not?

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26 Brittney July 26, 2009 at 7:32 am

Wow…I rarely comment on here, but I just had to say something about reviewing products. I think it’s something you should continue doing. There have been so many things that you (or others) have reviewed that I probably never would have known about. I also think it’s something fun for the readers :) I also have to agree with a few people who have already said that it’s interesting that BlogHer is against reviewing products, yet you’re going home with a ton of free swag (which I envy you for!). Oh well, I think you should keep continuing what you’re doing :)

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27 Julie July 26, 2009 at 7:38 am

I really like give aways and reviews, it helps us readers to know new products that are out there that we otherwise might not have heard of, and know if they are worth going out and purchasing. Sometimes the review is a bit too long and descriptive. I think a giving a link to the products website for a description would be easier and less commercial-like. As long as you are honest in your review, don’t give good reviews for money, or review something you don’t even like just because it was free, I think you should continue doing what you are doing.

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28 Heather July 26, 2009 at 7:41 am

I really like your black dress!

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with receiving free products and doing reviews, provided they fit within the guidelines you created for yourself. Truthfully, I think that’s the only way a person should do an advertisement or product review: if it’s something you truly believe in. If you started doing reviews for some artificial funky scary food and you were like “hey, this has 9,000 ingredients, it’s horrible for you, and it’s AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD BUY IT ASAP!” then it’d be weird and obviously fake, but a lot of people sort of look up to you as this healthy person who we have come to know, and if you like and believe in the integrity of a product, then there’s nothing wrong with sharing it with someone. It sucks that you felt bad about the presentation and I hope it wasn’t anyone’s intention to do that, but the truth is in what your readers think :)

Your entire BlogHer recap is making me miss Chicago so bad. Love that city!

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29 KathyZS July 26, 2009 at 7:46 am

I agree with many others. My first thought was ” anti-product review, but OK to take a bushel of SWAG?” hmmm, seems a bit hypocritical to me.

If folks don’t like reading product reviews, then they don’t have to read your blog. I also think if you disclose that you are doing this to earn a living and there will be ads and product reviews your readers, visitors and other flyby guests have been informed. I know Roni is very upfront about the fact that her blog is her job.

Let your readers to the talking and don’t change a thing!

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30 Liz July 26, 2009 at 7:50 am

I have been reading food blogs for the past year and have found reviews helpful. The blogs and reviews have helped me become more thoughtful about what and how I eat. It is easy for me to fall into a routine and buy the same things each week and reviews help open my eyes to new products.

I find that most bloggers are honest about samples and it’s pretty clear what’s a sample since many bloggers receive/review them at the same time. I think free products are a great reward for putting time into a blog.

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31 Kelly July 26, 2009 at 8:07 am

Kath, I have no problem with your reviews – you’re always honest and never seem like your trying to sell your readers ANYTHING! Roni does the same thing on her blog, and I can tell she feels ambivalent about posting reviews too, but she too is always honest, which we all appreciate. You have a food/nutrition blog – of course you’re going to review what is out there. Don’t listen to the haters and keep up your amazing, inspiring blog – I love it!

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32 Jean July 26, 2009 at 8:08 am

Hi Kath!
Another awesome post…and and Paula Dean apperance? I’d call that the Perfect Post! :)

I also wanted to tell you that you always are so pretty, but you just looked stunning all weekend! I love the black dress you rocked the last night of your trip!

As for the product reviews and give aways, I love them! I have tried so many new things because of your blog! I have always felt like you are honest when something is free or a gift, and it’s easy to see that you either like it or you don’t….I’ve never felt like you would give up your blog integrity for a product.

Plus the stuff you try is healthy things that do fit into your veiw on healthy, whole, REAL, food!

Keep doing what you are doing, Kath! Your blog rocks!

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33 Tracey July 26, 2009 at 8:08 am

Hi Kath,

I have been reading your blog for a little over a year now, and I truly adore it. You take so much time and care with it, and it has been such a huge help and inspiration to me. It makes me so angry to think those other bloggers upset you! Your product reviews are something I really enjoy. You phtograph every single thing you eat – why would they expect you to not photograph a product you try? And most of the product reviews I can remember have not been extremely complimentary. So, like another poster said, I appreciate not having to waste a lot of my own money to try things.

You are an amazing person, Kath! And your loyal readers – a group that continues to grow! – adore you just the way you are. Please don’t change the blog!

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34 Cait (Cait's Plate) July 26, 2009 at 8:08 am

AH!!!! PAULA DEEN?!?! I am SO jealous! I’m actually watching Giada as we speak! Haha. GO FOOD NETWORK!

It looks like you’re having such a blast – this whole experience just seems like one big (albeit exhausting!) party!

That sushi looks seriously amazing and I’m loving the head-to-toe glitter and pink boa!

BLOGHER ’10 HERE I COME!!

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35 Daria (Summer of the CSAs) July 26, 2009 at 8:09 am

I understand the problems people have with product reviews – there’s always a fear that people are “selling out” and promoting things that they wouldn’t buy normally. I don’t think this is the case with your site, and I think as long as you’re clear about what you’re getting for free and as long as you’re only reviewing things that would fit into your lifestyle anyway, I think it can be a valuable part of a blog.

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36 Debbie Burke July 26, 2009 at 8:10 am

I love your blog the way it is. I love the reviews of products. There are so many new products that come out each year and hardly time to try them all but your reviews help know which ones I want to try and search out in the grocery stores. As for the giveaways, I would still read your blog without them but judging by the amount of comments when you do giveaways there are others that love them. Why take away a formula that is working for you? Do what is right for you because that is what is going to bring you happiness and success.

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37 Jessica July 26, 2009 at 8:13 am

I think product reviews enhance the blog and not the opposite- it gives great insight, and it does not cheapen! Don’t worry – we like to know what you have to say and I know you’re completely honest! It is too bad that you started feeling upset :(
I don’t really care about giveaways but they are a fun idea. I love them, but I can do without-
so just go with what feels right for you! Don’t change you for someone else.
-muffy

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38 Havie July 26, 2009 at 8:14 am

I’ve read your blog for so long and never commented but like the others before me, felt it was way too ironic that the atmosphere of Blogher caused you a small breakdown while everyone was loading up on freebies, McDonald’s (WTF?by the way), and Paula Deen.

I think your blog is fantastic and it has helped me with so many of my own weight/food/happiness obstacles.

Even when you review a product, it is rarely something I go out and buy- unless you are absolutely jubilant about it.

It’s your blog, keep doing what makes you happy. You make me happy!!!!

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39 Whitney July 26, 2009 at 8:18 am

I think it it good that BlogHer had a session about the FTC guidelines simply because I don’t think that a lot of people are aware of it.

I can see both sides of the product review issue. I think that websites that are not styled in a food journal daily way but rather in a few times a week story/recipe way have a different perspective on the issue. It would be strange if every time I posted, I featured some product in my recipes simply because I had received a freebee in the mail. I have received things that I have used personally (same some POM juice in a smoothie) but that didn’t end up on my blog because I don’t blog in a food journal style. If I had that style, then it would have obviously ended up on the blog since I drank the smoothie.

That being said, I also agree with some blogs taking on a more product placement like feel. This is the best example that sticks in my head. Company sends blogger an expensive jug of of a powder that gets put into green monsters. She uses the product for the next 2 weeks and ends every post with and you can save 10% with this code! I feel like that type of placement does cheapen the blogger’s blog.

I also think that it is important to give bad reviews with the good so that you are being fully honest with the products you have tried, and maybe those companies will try to improve those products.

Just my thoughts. Kath-I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I have stopped reading the blogs that became too “product pushing oriented” and I obviously still read yours :)

Have a safe trip home!

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40 Barbara(Blood, Sweat and Heels) July 26, 2009 at 8:21 am

Everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding reviews/products but as a a consumer and reader of your blog, I appreciate them. As readers we feel we know you and trust what you think about products…..so you actually have convinced me to try new wonderful things I NEVER would have before. Tempeh for one! I’m grateful and more knowledgeable about healthier options through your reviews.

It’s completely evident to me that you are consistant, loyal and have an immense amount of integrity. You do a fabulous job! Perhaps they negativity you experienced was due to jealousy??? Please keep doing what you do!

B

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41 Lee July 26, 2009 at 8:23 am

I like the giveaways. Companies often give their [sometimes hard to find] products to the bigger blogs with more readers. I like when those people, like yourself, in turn give those away so someone who might not ever be able to try the product, can.

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42 VeggieGirl July 26, 2009 at 8:27 am

I LOVE PAULA DEEN!!

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43 katey July 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

wow looks like an awesome timee!!! isn’t lucky strike the best? I went there for my birthday!

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44 Belinda July 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

I enjoy reading your blog. Be encouraged by the fact that sharing what you eat has inspired so many people…even if it is a product you have reviewed!

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45 tosha July 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

Kath,

I love what you do. I’ve read other bloggers who are against any sort of reviews or sample giveaways, etc, but honestly, I am all for reviews in particular. Seriously, huge food companies have plenty of marketing power, but what are you to do if you are a smaller operation that wants to produce real food and market it to the people who will eat it? This sounds trite, but it’s a bigger issue. If you have a chance, go see Food, Inc and you’ll see the importance of marketing. Our response as healthy food advocates cannot be an anti-marketing mentality. Food bloggers have a chance to make it profitable for companies to produce real food, so when you use your education and personal commitment to promote healthy food, I think that’s wonderful. I clearly remember a product that you reviewed once and you said you didn’t like it! I thought that was so honest and cool! Please don’t sweat the criticism, girl, and keep doing what you do!

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46 Elizabeth (The Dallas Celiac) July 26, 2009 at 8:36 am

I think reviews ARE a big part of the blog world. For the Gluten-Free blogs, reviews are INCREDIBLY important in warning others what didn’t agree with our tummies and what did, as well as what was edible and what wasn’t. For the regular foodie blogs, reviews can either save your readers time and money if the product wasn’t good or ratchet up sales for a product that really delivered.

My personal opinion is that as long as the reviews are honest and that the reviewer isn’t being paid to say complimentary things about the product, reviews DEFINITELY have a place in the food blog world.

– Elizabeth

P.S. Love the dress! You looked great!

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47 K July 26, 2009 at 8:39 am

We have matching Chicago mugs now :)

For what it’s worth, I really like product reviews – I want to know what I’m getting into with everything! I check out reviews on food, restaurants, technology, you name it.

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48 Jessica July 26, 2009 at 8:41 am

Kath, I believe that the food reviews and giveaways you host are a seamless and great part of your blog! I have never felt as if you plugging a product, or saying you liked it just for that reason… never ever… you seem to be a down to earth woman who speaks (writes? blogs?) truthfully.

It seems to me that their giveaways all night don’t count? ;)

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49 Mary :: A Merry Life July 26, 2009 at 8:43 am

Totally fun and great to meet you!

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50 JT(@fauxfoodiegirl) July 26, 2009 at 8:47 am

Don’t feel bad. It’s all part of business and round table discussions. Product review is very important for manufacturers/marketers of product. I wasn’t in the session but from what I can gather from your post is that it spoke very much from the reviewer point of view…what needs to be looked at as well, is that product reviews by “real people”/bloggers are very important in product development and marketing. From the blogger point of view, it’s a must to say it was free and to be honest. Even if the product didn’t deliver, you should still write it or at least if not post on the blog, let the company that sent you a product know what you really thought of it. Companies sending products will not stop sending the products for review just because you gave a negative opinion, at the end of the day it’s a personal opinion and it is part of a compilation of many opinions and surveys.
Adding a disclaimer to your blog is a perfect idea.

Is the reason you keep your grocery bill so low because of all the products you get for a review?

Perhaps the parties were not as glamorous this year compared to last because of the economy…event industry is seriously hurting. Sponsors are much more inclined in giving away the product than cash to put the events together….just a thought.

I can’t wait for 2010 event…NYC here I come.

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51 Leah July 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

Kath, I love product reviews, good or bad! It’s a way for me to learn about products that I may not have heard of or had the courage to try! I always take into consideration that everyone’s tastes are different but I really like hearing other people’s opinion. I think that product reviews are an integral part of the food blogger community.

As far as give-away’s are concerned, I love the opportunity to get free stuff of course! I think I do prefer the giveaways where bloggers specify that this is coming from the manufacturer, wanting to give away to one lucky reader to try rather than a bunch of random stuff that maybe the blogger has been holding on to. I think it is a great way for the manufacturer to do some branding and marketing and it’s a great way to increase readership. Win-win, right?

Just my thoughts,
L4L

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52 Allison July 26, 2009 at 8:59 am

I enjoy the product reviews and love the give-aways! But a disclaimer is always good to have :)

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53 Paige July 26, 2009 at 9:06 am

I like the product reviews. A lot of times, I am on the fence about buying something; and blog reviews can help me decide if that particular product is worth a try (or not)! I think the giveaways are great too. For people who are on the smaller level of the blog world, it makes us feel part of it all!

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54 Cynthia C. July 26, 2009 at 9:08 am

You swag loot looks amazing. Sounds like BlogHer had its ups and downs for you.

I love the product reviews because it gives me a chance to know what I should even try or what I shouldn’t waste my money one. I’ve often looked at things in the store and not known whether it was worth the money so I didn’t buy it. I trust you and other food bloggers who have similar tastes as me to guide me to try new things.

I like the giveaways because it gives me the chance to win some free stuff. And the company benefits. I don’t think there really is a loser in the whole situation. I just wish I could win once :-)

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55 Rebecca July 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

Oh man!! Paula Deen!! That’s awesome!

I don’t think there is a problem with freebies and giveaways!! They help the company out and definitely make blogs more fun!! Maybe the people who were against freebies were just mad because they weren’t getting any…lol jk

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56 Jenn July 26, 2009 at 9:18 am

Maybe it would help if you asked yourself honestly whether or not you would still write this blog if you didn’t get all the free stuff. If you truly love helping others through this blog, then you’d still do it with or without the free products you receive.

I highly doubt they were all against you! There’s no need to feel like that and look at all the free stuff you got there!! You should feel blessed :)

I love your blog and appreciate the reviews and giveaways. I’d be interested to see which products you didn’t review because they weren’t so great– it would be nice to know not to buy them. Also, I’d love you to tell us in reviews not only if they’re good, but if you think they’re WORTH the price. I think so many of your readers would be interested in that since we don’t get them sent to us free of charge.

Thanks for bringing this subject up, and keep up your great work!!

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57 Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope July 26, 2009 at 9:20 am

I feel terrible that you felt so uncomfortable in that session. I’m totally with you on the freebies and product reviews. I believe they are an essential part of food blogging! I really like hearing what people think about products! I’ve found some amazing items that I never would have tried if it hadn’t been for a certain product review. And freebies are a wonderful way to get the word out about a product and help save a little $$$ these days. I think you do a great job with your reviews Kath. You are totally honest, and really give a good opinion of what to expect with an item. Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t worry about what a few people might think! :)

So glad you were able to enjoy the rest of your evening. All those goodies look so fun to try out! Totally jealous! Get a good night’s rest.

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58 Amanda @ Cakes and Ale July 26, 2009 at 9:20 am

I think there’s a fine line when it comes to product reviews. Are you doing it because you really want to get that information to people, or are you doing it because you like the free stuff? I suspect it’s a little of both for everyone – I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff? No matter what though, this is YOUR blog, which means that you get to choose what the content is, and as long as your transparent with people (which you are!), that’s fine! If people don’t want to read your blog because you review products, then they don’t have to read it, you know? This is your site!

On the same note, I have to agree with everyone else: it is totally hypocritical for those people at BlogHer to be attacking you when they are walking out of that convention with a bunch of free loot. I would like to hear their explanation for that!

Finally, in my personal opinion, I don’t mind reading product reviews… as long as it doesn’t become the primary focus of a blog. Yours doesn’t, which is why I like reading KERF so much! So, to sum up, just keep doing what you’re doing. Obviously, you have a lot of loyal readers, so you are definitely doing a great job!

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59 Erica July 26, 2009 at 9:21 am

I love that you do product reviews. I think it is great to have a source that is gong to give me an honest opinion. Don’t let anyone make you feel like what you do in not good. We are surrounded by so many sources of advertising and it is very hard for a consumer to figure out what is real. I know that you will not say something you don’t believe. Thank you for doing honest product reviews.

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60 Jen Papaya (PapayaFish.com!) July 26, 2009 at 9:22 am

Kath, that’s terrible that you felt bad about reviews & giveaways! One of the things I LOVE MOST about reading blogs is learning about new healthy foods and snacks and products that have been given a thumbs up by someone who’s opinion I value. I find it incredibly cynical for people to assume that because someone is reviewing a product, they’re being compensated for it. I have found that bloggers always mention that they got a product for free (usually because they’re so excited to have gotten it for free!!), that this shouldn’t be an issue. Bah-humbug!

But it does seem that overall you had a wonderful weekend! Have a safe trip home!!

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61 Jess July 26, 2009 at 9:22 am

Hi Kath!

BlogHer looks like a blast! I’m glad you had fun and were able to get lots of cool swag.

I personally really like your product reviews because I know you are reviewing food as close to its “real” state and giving an honest opinion. Your reviews can actually save me time in the grocery store because I already know the specific product contains “real” ingredients and unfortunately it can really be overwhelming trying to find products like that in a typical grocery store!

On the topic of receiving free products, I’m sure anyone who reads this blog would accept certain products if they were in your position. I mean look how many people comment on giveaways! What’s the difference?

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62 kinder July 26, 2009 at 9:22 am

I find it funny that BlogHer is condemning giveaways and yet have sponsers and giveaways at their convention. Laughable really.

I think your giveaways are fine. They are in keeping with the jist of your blog, and you are honest about them!

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63 Danielle W. July 26, 2009 at 9:27 am

I really enjoy your blog reviews, because I’m a busy medical student who doesn’t have a lot of time to try out new things on my own. As other readers have said, I also appreciate the time and effort you put into this blog. I introduced my friends to your blog, and we’ve been hooked ever since.
I think maybe the reason some people are against the blog reviews, is that some bloggers might take advantage of the freebies and not tell the truth about them. I know this happens in the medical field because I have chosen not to accept any free gifts (pens, notepads, and food) from pharmaceutical reps. I want to make my own decisions about prescribing practices, not what an industry member tells me. However, I think that as long as you always stay true to yourself and your readers, you’ll always provide us with honesty, healthy reviews.

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64 Lindsay @ Banana and Chocolate July 26, 2009 at 9:35 am

I’m super jealous that you got to see Paula Deen! I love her!

I love product reviews and give aways. Because of blog reviews I have tried lots of new products that I wouldn’t otherwise try.

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65 AnnQ July 26, 2009 at 9:37 am

I do NOT think Product Reviews “cheapen” what you do.

In my opinion, I’d rather hear a real person tell me what they think instead of a Magazine, where they’re often paid to say certain things.

You’re doing a great job! Thank you!

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66 Evan Thomas July 26, 2009 at 9:38 am

Blogs have definitely helped to expand my horizons. I wouldn’t have tried half the foods I have, or bought from the companies I’ve come to know and trust, had I not seen or read about them on blogs. Keep doing what you do, and don’t let those other people get to you.

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67 bobbi July 26, 2009 at 9:39 am

wow you guys look like your having soooo much fun, love all the samples and gifts!!! I hope I can go next yearr :)

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68 Laura July 26, 2009 at 9:43 am

Reviews are one of my favorite parts!!

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69 emily July 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

Kath, I think you do a great job of reviewing the free things you get. I do read blogs where I find myself rolling my eyes over all the free stuff and how ‘great!’ everything is. But yours is not one of them.
Faithful three times a day reader, emily

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70 Anonymous July 26, 2009 at 9:52 am

Only issue I have with the product reviews on your blog is the very proud “look at how much we didn’t spend on groceries” attitude without specific mention of WHY this can happen. When you’ve got bloggers and companies sending you new products all the time you don’t HAVE to buy some things which keeps your costs down. I’m not against you, or the reviews, but I think that that needs to be a little bit clearer when you write.

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71 penny July 26, 2009 at 9:55 am

It’s your blog – you should do what makes you happy. However, I find the product reviews annoying. Not just on your blog – on lots of them. I mute commercials because I feel inundated with ads in my life. It’s getting to the same point with blogs. Maybe it’s just me but ads (and that’s basically what they are) are taking over every aspect of life.

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72 Megan July 26, 2009 at 9:56 am

Kath, I think you do an incredible job of disclosing when the products you are reviewing were sent to you for free. And because everything you review fits into the KERF mission, you’re doing your readers a service.

It must have been tough to turn off that raw feeling and go enjoy the rest of your night, but it looks like you succeeded. I don’t know that I would have been able to do it!

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73 Cath July 26, 2009 at 9:57 am

Kath –

I think it is RIDICULOUS (yet very understandable) that you were even a little worried about reviewing free samples. I have never felt that you gave a review about a product simply because it was free. Furthermore, my husband and I are on a budget just like you and Matt, and there’s no way we could buy everything we want to try. Thus, free samples allow you to try stuff and give great suggestions on whether the rest of us (i.e. those on a budget) should spend our money. Anyway, I hope you continue to review products, because I refer to them when making my own grocery list!

Keep Rockin’ It,

Cath

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74 Deva July 26, 2009 at 9:57 am

I think that you should keep going with reviews, I never feel like it’s anything but natural from you.

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75 Amy July 26, 2009 at 9:59 am

Hey Kath,

I love your blog and have been reading for several years. I think your reviews are always honest. . .you make it clear when you’re getting free stuff. Some of it is great, and it’s nice to get reviews from a trusted source. I’d much rather try a product featured on your blog than on a random advertisement!

Keep up the great work!

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76 Mandy A July 26, 2009 at 9:59 am

I haven’t been able to read through everyone’s responses on the product reviews/giveaways… but for me, I love them. I really like hearing what you or the other bloggers have to HONESTLY say about what you’ve been sent.

I agree that as long as it’s something you WANT to review and stick to your standards of life… then go for it 100%. If you believe in it, then why not?

And the giveaways can be fun for things that are a bit more expensive…or places that are not down the street that most of us can drive to.

I say keep doing what you’re doing… your blog is the first one I started with and it’s still one of my very favorites!

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77 Mara @ What's for Dinner? July 26, 2009 at 10:00 am

I had so much fun finally meeting you!! I’m so glad our dinner worked out, and I’m bummed I couldn’t make it to the other parties… oh well, next year in New York, right?

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78 Andrea (Off Her Cork) July 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

I love Paula Deen! Did you get to chat with her at all?

I have a huge problem when people put restrictions on blogs and on what we can and can’t do. I fully 100% will say when someone sent me a product to try. First of all, I’m giving that person credit, that’s common courtesy. And second, I do think readers have a right to know that I received a sample. But just because something got sent to me doesn’t mean I will love it and give it a glowing review. I give my honest opinion. I love doing reviews, whether it’s food products, restaurants, or workout gear. And I have every right to do reviews! :D My approach and philosophy is the same as yours.

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79 Cath July 26, 2009 at 10:08 am

One more quick thing – sorry! I just read #70’s comment. I kind of agree with her, since we all know that (1) you get free food; and (2) Matt has access to all the wonderful Great Harvest Bread. This can be simply remedied: just give a little post at the end of the month or end of the week with an estimation of how much you would have spent if you had to purchase everything you ate. You should only include food that you would have TRULY purchased otherwise. Even if that adds $50 (an exaggerated estimation as I haven’t the slightest idea) to your monthly bill, we all have to admit that $150 for a month’s worth of groceries is a pretty awesome acheivement. That said, keep reviewing those products! :-)

-Cath

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80 gina (fitnessista) July 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

looks like so much fun!
I LOVE paula deen- she’s adorable
glad you had a great time- i enjoyed living vicariously through you ;)

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81 BethT July 26, 2009 at 10:17 am

Oh, Paula Deen….speaking on behalf of Wal Mart makes me like you a little less :(

Product reviews – you do a fine job with them, Kath. I agree with the others who said it’s other blogs that get me bugged when they try a product and all of a sudden it’s 100% that product, 100% of the time. It’s too commercially! I think you balance the love of free stuff (because really, who doesn’t love it?!) with honesty. You also don’t harp on how awesome a product is for more than a sentence or two!

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82 Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) July 26, 2009 at 10:20 am

Kath,
I have never once felt that you have come across as trying to “sell” a product, and you always mention when something was “given” to you. Your product reviews do not cheapen your blog, and I’ve learned a great deal about many new products that I would have never known about if it had not been for KERF. So, I for one appreciate the reviews.

My husband always forwards me the latest articles on this topic as he reads all the major daily newspapers for work. Seems like bloggers and their freebies are getting a lot of attention these days. That being said, as long as we mention that the company sent us a free sample, and we give our honest opinion, I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing reviews. Before I started blogging, I really appreciated and valued other blogger’s opinions, and whenever I review a product myself, I have been nothing but completely honest. So, I hope you’re feeling a bit better about the whole situation today. Just keep doing what you’re doing…you should never have to apologize for your honest opinion.

So super jealous you got to dine with some of my favorite ladies…Jenn, Mara, and Miz! :)

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83 Justy2003 July 26, 2009 at 10:23 am

Looks like you’re having fun in Chicago!
I enjoy your product reviews. There are tons of new foods I have tried because of reviews on your blog, as well as other blogs. I wouldn’t have tried these foods without good, honest reviews from bloggers! I agree with some people who say that it feels a little too advertisement-y on some blogs, but I don’t get that feel from yours. Keep doin’ what you’re doin! :)

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84 rebecca July 26, 2009 at 10:25 am

I really do not mind the product reviews on food blogs. I learn a lot about new products and new companies. And I always enjoy supporting a small company that I may not have known about otherwise.

The question I always have for the bloggers/reviewers is “once you have received the product for free, tried it, reviewed it, and liked it, would you/do you buy it in the future?” I think that really reveals the answer of how much you really “liked” the product. This always becomes apparent when a company very obviously has sent their products to the most popular food bloggers at the same time. And then every food blog is full of raves for that product for about two weeks and then the product is never ever mentioned again. I tend to tune out from food blogs for the weeks when this is the case.

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85 Jenn (www. j3nn.net ) July 26, 2009 at 10:27 am

I love Paula Deen! She’s one of my Food Network favs. :)

My thoughts on product reviews and giveaways: Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I review products that I buy all the time and it’s no different than if I get samples or coupons for free, because I always give my honest opinion.

In fact, there was one product last year that I did not care for AT ALL and I did not sugarcoat it one bit; I blatantly told me readers that I didn’t like it. The very next day, the owner of the company emailed me; they must have been shocked being they were hoping they could somehow change my opinion, but I would not budge. The integrity of my blog is very important to me and I feel no reason to lie to my readers just because there’s a popular or unique product on the market. I even turn down dozens of affiliate program offers that I feel aren’t in line with my blog’s message.

As for giveaways, I can’t say that I have ever done this but I think it’s fun. It’s fun when Oprah does it for her audience and it’s fun to be the one doing it! There’s nothing wrong with it and I feel that it’s a great way to give back to our blog audiences. However, it should definitely be a product or service that collaborates our blog’s theme and/or is something that we would use. We have to use our own discretion, but more importantly, we have to do what WE want for OUR blog. Why compromise our morals and desires just to make a few naysayers happy?

I’m also a big believer in capitalism and free market; we should be able to talk about and advertise anything that we choose (within reason) without being scrutinized by a minority of people that feel that we should spend all of our time doing things for free or without some sort of agenda to fulfill. I’m sorry but being a full or semi-full time blogger takes time, effort and money and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being compensated for said time and effort.

I started off doing my blog as a hobby, but knew and wanted it to grow into much more. Personally, I don’t feel the need to be part of a clique or network that snubs perfectly acceptable business practices. Supermarkets give free samples out every single day, is that wrong? No, of course not. It’s business and I will never apologize for that.

I’m sorry that your last day ended so awkwardly. Hopefully your next summit will make up for that! Stand your ground and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for not being in a certain frame of mind.

Jenn

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86 Becky July 26, 2009 at 10:37 am

I don’t think that you should put too much stock in what other people think about product reviews and the like. It is obvious that you have a strong following and you have a following that does not mind entering for a chance to win a free product here and there. Everyone tells their friends when they try and like or dislike a product. Same thing, sometimes you just get it for free. Keep you head up and continue to do what you do best!

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87 Michelle Hisae July 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

Paula Deen? Oh Snap!

ADORABLE black dress.

What a long day! I hope you got lots of rest!

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88 Jenn (www. j3nn.net ) July 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

Oh, by the way, to all bloggers: I LOVE when you do product reviews!! I can’t tell you how many products I have discovered based on someone’s review and I would have never found a lot of my favorite products if it weren’t for someone blogging or posting about them on a social site. So, KEEP IT UP! Please :)

Jenn

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89 Kim July 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

Great topic; this definitely seems to be a burgeoning controversy in the blog world. While I admit that sometimes I’m skeptical of glowing product reviews in the blogosphere, bloggers are allowed to say whatever they want in their own domain! We’re all aware that the goodies are from companies hoping for publicity, so it’s up to the reader to decide whether to trust a reviewer’s objectivity, or to take it with a grain of salt. I think it’s great that you’ve created and disclosed a personal policy towards free loot, and because of that, I trust the integrity of your reviews. I’d love to see all food bloggers voluntarily do the same.

Actually, since the topic has already been brought up, I’ll now admit I was curious when you mentioned that two companies are sponsoring your BlogHer trip. Stonyfield is awesome and I can’t imagine not wanting to support/represent them, but would you have allowed an un-KERFy company, like South Beach or Snackwell’s or Yoplait, to send you to BlogHer? (I’m just thinking of corporate brands that hawk ‘diet’ products laden with chemicals and HFCS.) Or how would you have handled your Lipton posts if you’d gotten to Africa and had a negative experience? I think this will be a bigger gray area for bloggers in the next few years – the big-ticket items like vacations and events, and what the expectations should be on the parts of the companies, bloggers, and readers.

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90 Organic Ashley July 26, 2009 at 10:45 am

It is nice when you have giveaways but sometimes all blogs can go a little overboard. I like to read blogs because it is like taking a peek into someones real life. When the blogger is eating only things she got for free and using these amazing appliances that were also sent for free it can take the fun out of it. But that might be just a little bit of jealousy kicking in haha I mean who wouldnt want free stuff arriving at their door.
By the way how do you get all that free stuff do you contact the company?

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91 Nina July 26, 2009 at 10:50 am

I don’t see anything wrong with reviewing products as long as you disclose that it was a freebie. Also consider the proportion of free products reviewed verses purchased. It probably sits near the ethical boundary to review only free products. I wasn’t there but I would assume that the topic was probably focused on blogs that try to over push products that are being advertised. Big difference between paid programming (like infomercials for blogs) and reviewing products. I followed a pretty good blog for a while until every other post started to become infomercials so I took it off my reader queue.

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92 Meredith July 26, 2009 at 10:56 am

i really like the product reviews! i am a medical student ( = busy and on a budget) and i try to eat organic, whole foods as much as possible. that being said, a lot of these types of products are a bit more expensive and i don’t want to waste the money buying them if i’m not going to like them.

so you are a huge help to me! your blog is how i discovered a lot of wonderful food items that are now staples of my diet…almond butter, Oikos, POM juice.

thanks for all you do! and keep up the giveaways!

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93 Sarah July 26, 2009 at 10:57 am

I honestly agree to an extent with the blogher folks about the product reviews and giveaways. Sorry, but alot of times I feel like it is advertising and a bit of “showing off” (not you persay, but a lot of other blogs I have seen use giveaways and reviews to show off and to just try to get free stuff)

If I find a fun new product I will probably blog about it because I like it, but I don’t think I would ever accept freebies. That’s just me though, and that’s not what I want my blog to be about.

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94 courtney July 26, 2009 at 11:00 am

Such a cute dress on such a cute girl!

As for product reviews and giveaways, I personally like them, and it sounds like most of the people who have commented do as well. I don’t have the exact same eating style or palate as you, but it is nice to read about some products that I might want to recommend to family and friends or that I might take a closer look at next time I am at the store. I think that you are honest about whether or not the product was sent to you and whether or not you actually like it! Your style of reviewing products is helpful, and I am sure you are sent products that you might not have bought otherwise, so it is a nice opportunity to try something new and introduce it to your readers. Plus if there are things that you are sent and don’t want to try, you said that you don’t try them, so I don’t think that you are “selling out” in any way. Personally I adore free giveaways and always hope I am going to win! :) I’m sorry that session left a bad taste in your mouth, and I hope that you continue to blog in true KERF style–I like your blog the way it is!

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95 leslie July 26, 2009 at 11:01 am

there is so much fun going on in this post, i don’t know where to begin! :) i’m glad you got to take full advantage of the conference and all its offerings.

i really appreciate the reviews you provide. i think the disclaimer is probably a good idea, but personally, when i trust the opinion of the blogger (as i do with you), i find the reviews very helpful. i’m so sorry you felt discouraged, but i think most of your readers would agree that your reviews are honest and useful, and that’s the most important thing!

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96 Brittany July 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

I agree with what some others have posted about the Blogher conference being full of sponsorships and swag yet they are showing negativity toward products on blogs. hmm… seems like they’re giving quite the mixed message.

As a food blogger I like to receive products to review and I like reading other food blogger’s opinions. Like you, I only take products that fit with the theme of my blog, almost always disclose that I received the product from the company, and give a truthful review. I wouldn’t say something is good just because I got it free. I think that if you are honest in your reviews it’s perfectly fine. I’ve found out about so many great products this way. Plus, the giveaways are fun.

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97 Brittany July 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

P.S. I forgot to mention that I am super jealous that you got to meet Paula. I simply love her and her southern accent! :)

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98 Nina July 26, 2009 at 11:05 am

Kath, I’m glad you stood up for what you believe in. I absolutely think that products and giveaways are one of the best parts of the blogging community. Many of the products that I have recently purchased have come directly from my favorite bloggers recommendations (including yours). And really, how are complimentary products any different than swag and sponsorships at BlogHer? Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

I think as long as you review products with the integrity that you do, then it’s a perfectly acceptable practice. Keep up the good work and don’t let anyone else make you feel like you’re not doing a great thing, because you are.

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99 Rebeca July 26, 2009 at 11:08 am

I think product reviews/giveaways are a good way to share with readers “new” things out there and help weed out the “good” from the “bad.” If you walk into any supermarket there are hundreds of different products out there and if you just blindly go in, you’re likely to end up with a lot of junk that wasn’t worth it in the first place. I think when you write reviews you help us out by being honest about your opinions of the product. Not everything is good or worth the cost. When you do giveaways you give people a chance to try something that they might not have otherwise- I live in a metro area and there are still products that aren’t carried in ny stores and I’d much rather try a single size, than buy a 12 pack from Amazon or something!

Obviously, it’s good for the makers of the products as well, but I think one thing that sets you apart is that you don’t ask for a million different things to win, just a comment. I read through tons of blogs and won’t enter ones where one of the entries is “add me to your blogroll” Yuck!

We love KERF (and the lady behind it) and I don’t think you should change a thing. It’s YOUR blog and I’d say you’re pretty great at what you do and should never let anyone no matter how “big” they are let you feel otherwise!

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100 Jamie July 26, 2009 at 11:12 am

I have been reading food blogs (including yours) for about 4 months now and this is the first time I have felt compelled to make a comment. The reason I started reading these blogs (especially yours) is that they have such wonderful ideas for new healthy foods to try. Part of this includes the product reviews that you do. Most of us dont get cool new products sent to our homes and would have a difficult time finding new products in grocery stores. Therefore, your product reviews are really a great way to learn about new products and to get a reliable review. I hope you continue doing them, they are one of my favorite parts of the blog world, and rather than cheapening health food blogging, I believe that they enhance it.

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101 Cara July 26, 2009 at 11:30 am

i love your reviews. although they are promotional, i learn what is good for me and healthy!

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102 Lori July 26, 2009 at 11:36 am

Different blogs for different people. I don’t think there is anything wrong with reviews as long as the readers know that the product was supplied by the company. Heck – I review stuff that I bought just because I want to talk about it!

Also, don’t take what is said at conferences too personally. People that attend conferences are usually very passionate about what they do and there are going to be people on the far end of each opinion out there, as well as a bunch in the middle. Think about who you are blogging for – your readers or the other people at the conference?

I like giveaways, too. They are fun for readers and it is good PR for a company (if the product is good).

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103 Kath July 26, 2009 at 11:47 am

Thank you guys so much for your thoughts on this topic. I’m glad to hear the majority of you enjoy product reviews and giveaways and appreciate honest thoughts on new products. I will continue to do them as I have! Do know that I do often turn down products that I don’t feel are a good fit for KERF and I have given mediocre reviews in the past, so they are not all positive. I will see if I can add a “would I buy this” reflection on future products too – I can see how that would be helpful. I think I have mentioned that with some of the mix-my-cereals and said they are fun, but expensive and I wouldn’t buy them regularly.

What anon said about Stonyfield is a good observation and good to point out as it pretty much epitomizes this whole free product conflict. Us Summiters did get Oikos coupons, hence the increase of appearances. I’m not sure it would make sense to write “this was a free sample” every single time I ate it, but I do see how its frequency is influencing. I honestly do love Stonyfield and Oikos and would buy it regardless of the coupons, but how are you all supposed to know that? Similarly, a lot of the samples I receive aren’t just one bite – it might be a jar of peanut butter that lasts me months and the FIRST time I eat it I say it was a free product, but then thereafter I don’t mention that so if you just pop in on a later post you might not know. My hope is that most of you are regular readers that do note the first time, and I think most of you do. The pending disclaimer will hopefully clarify even more.

Re. grocery bills, I very much hope I have not come across holier-than-thou about our grocery bill. I have said several times that it would absolutely not be so low without Matt’s bakery contributions and various samples I might eat throughout the week. I mention the number we spend because there are still tons of things that I’d like to buy that I don’t as an effort to watch the amount I’m spending. Yes, it would be higher if I didn’t have free products, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try really hard to say no to impulse buys when I shop. I have said several times, though, that comparing grocery spending is like comparing apples to oranges. There are so many factors like the people in your household, their eating habits, your eating habits, where you work, etc. that affect your weekly bill. So I hope you guys will see the numbers in the context of my household and not as a goal or means for comparison. I’m assuming you’d rather know my number with the samples than not at all, but correct me if I’m wrong.

I think those were all the topics of question?

Thanks again for all of your comments and support!

Kath

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104 Kath July 26, 2009 at 11:53 am

Oh, and regarding the apparaent double standard at BlogHer:

They said yesterday that they love swag and product reviews, but they do not like to mix their “chocolate and peanut butter” (two things they love individually). BlogHer’s policy is that you can do reviews, just not on your regular blog feed. They want you to have a separate page or another blog that is reviews only. To keep them separate from the editorial content.

Well, that wouldn’t really work for me! “To see my lunch post, go to this other blog.” Since my blog is a diary, you see what I really eat – free product or not. One remedy would be to just not accept any more free products, but that wouldn’t be fun for me or you.

I’m not sure how all the BlogHer ad network bloggers are going to handle the swag and samples when they get home. They’ll either not post about them or there will have to be a lot of separate review blogs created.

I think simple disclosure is the answer to the problem, and I have (as far as I remember) disclosed when things were sent to me.

K

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105 Anne July 26, 2009 at 11:57 am

Hi Kath—

This is obviously a big subject that has inspired a lot of comment!

I think it depends on what your readers are coming to your blog for. Since I, personally, try not to eat too much packaged stuff, I don’t get much out of the reviews. I just scroll past them, though, and it doesn’t bother me that they are there.

I did find it funny when it seemed like every food blogger out there was reviewing and featuring Amazing Grass. I thought, “somebody sent out some free samples!” :)

It might start bothering me if the reviews and emphasis on packaged stuff started taking over. What I like most about your blog are the recipes and inspirations for different flavor combinations. (I will forever be indebted to you for your Triple Berry Salad recipe—I think it should get its own page!) To me, “real food” = “whole food,” and while I know that packaged food is a part of our modern lives and it is good to know what healthier packaged foods exists, I am more interested in finding good ways to prepare fruits and veggies and whole grains and other things like that.

That’s just me, however. I also like the food journal aspect and seeing what a healthy lifestyle looks like, and I know that, as others have pointed out, taking pictures of the bars and other packaged things that you do, in fact, eat, will always be a part of that. And based on the comments here, there obviously are many people who appreciate the reviews.

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106 Jess July 26, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Good luck on getting home.

I like product reviews personally, before I blogged I always looked to them for the new types of things that I should try. I also think that some non-packaged things are great for helping people get away from processed foods and into basic things!

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107 Emily July 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Kath, hopefully you know by now that you are my #1 favorite food blogger. You were the first food blog I ever read!! I’ve been following you 3 times a day for over a year now.

Please don’t change a thing. Direct BlogHer to this post and explain that your readers do not support their policy for you to create a separate blog.

I think people are looking way too much into your product reviews and giveaways. It’s really silly to me! This issue is being taken way too seriously and I really think they’re fun and they shake things up a bit!!

Thank you for always being honest and passionate. Your readers truly appreciate you and all you do!!

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108 caitlin July 26, 2009 at 12:34 pm

** eye roll ** to blogher! i’m sorry but i think it is very lame that they made you feel so uncomfortable when the WHOLE event is essentially product placement.

i think you way you do reviews (and most of us do reviews) is great and acceptable. and you’re right, its not like you can say it everytime you eat the free PB that it was a sample. if we didn’t get samples, our blogs would probably be very repetitive (same food over and over again). i think samples are great for the readers, great for the bloggers, and great all around.

im sry it made you uncomfortable.

ps – stonyfield rules. LOL

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109 Chloe (Naturally Frugal) July 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I think your reviews are great. If it weren’t for you (and other bloggers) reviewing such companies as Amazing Grass I would have no idea about them!

The most important thing to me is that you’re honest about the products you try, and I think you do a really good job letting us know whether or not you think the product is worth it. I could see why other blog communities may not condone free products, giveaways, and reviews, but food blogs like yours help to boost knowledge of what’s out there and what is relevant.

P.S. LOVE your black dress, it’s gorgeous and so are you!

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110 caitlin July 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm

ps i just told the husband what had happened to you and he goes “oh god, that’s america you for you. you have to put a disclaimer on everything!” and i totally agree!!! LOL

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111 Richard July 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I’ve been following your blog for several months now, and I’ve never had any trouble understanding where you stand on the give-away issue. I like your reviews, because they’ve introduced me to new products that I might have missed. And I even like your negative reviews, because they often save me money and keep me from buying something that doesn’t taste good. You’ve got an outstanding blog. Just keep doing what you’re doing!

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112 Andrea July 26, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Kath —

I haven’t commented much on your blog – but this post made me want to share a few thoughts.

The reviews and giveaways are nice on blogs – but as mentioned previously it appears that more and more of your reviews (and others!) appear to be a lot more processed foods. And I like you disclaimer you are thinking about adding — do it because I often question other bloggers motives when reviewing certain products.

Lastly— Maybe I don’t know enough about BlogHer and all – but it really bothered me to see tons of fried foods, McDonalds (?!) and not so many healthy food choices at those events.

Your blog is great — keep up the good work.

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113 Vince July 26, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Definitely a lot of discussion going on about this subject. So my two cents for what it is worth. Basically I see reviews as a matter of that person’s personal opinion. In some cases I could care less what a reviewer might think, ie. I never listen to what a reviewer says about a movie, I go to see what interests me. In other cases, if the reviewer is a knowledgeable source or one whose opinion I respect, I will read their review and could be swayed by their opinion.

In your case, I do see you as a knowledgeable source and I do respect the opinions you give. Plus I don’t see you giving scathing reviews if you don’t like something. It’s more of “I really didn’t care for this.” So your reviews are pretty much given as “this is my opinion on it.”

I admit, I don’t know anything about BlogHer, other than what I have seen here at KERF. But it seems like they are talking out of both sides of their mouths. Their event had a whole lot of sponsorship and not a lot of it was healthy.

Personally I like the mixture given in your blogs. I like the ideas for eating better, but also what are better choices. Not everyone is going to live a “no-packaged foods” life and if this blog went to more of that type of format I probably would be visiting it less. The current format of healthier choices, product reviews, mixed in with the every day living of you and Matt is what I love about this blog. Keep at it, it’s great!

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114 Mary July 26, 2009 at 1:28 pm

free food = good
free healthy/organic/natural/”better for you” food = even better
knowing that the product is yummy= wonderful
buying healthy/yummy food, wondering how you ever lived without it, falling in food-love= is there really anything better?

bottom line= product reviews are informative, (more) real advertisements. for those of us who want to try more “alternative” foods (rather than pop tarts, big macs, and frappucinos) i think blogger reviews are crucial. sure, it benefits the sometimes smaller, up and coming companies promote their goods in a more affordable (?) way- but is that such a bad thing? more importantly, reviews benefit ME!!, a consumer who wants to try new things but might be skeptical about the palatability of drinking a green smoothie!

all in all, product reviews are just another (genius) creation of the free market. creative destruction is a bitch, and companies need to get their products known however they can. product reviews work! if you dont want to promote products, then don’t- no one’s making you! if you dont want to read product reviews- then don’t!

as an eighteen year-old whose money has a funny way of disappearing, i dont think i could ever turn down free goodies. snapping a picture and giving my (always right) opinion would hardly be a chore…

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115 Krissy (Single Serving) July 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm

What a fun ending to your trip!!

I’m new to food blogging and haven’t gotten any offers to review anything but when and if I did I see nothing wrong with it. I love hearing about new products. I think you are incredibly up front and honest about the things you receive and what you like and don’t like. I think you’re doing a great job.

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116 Nicole July 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Personally, I think that your reviews are very helpful. I do trust the judgment of a lot bloggers and it’s nice to see how others who have similar tastes as me feel about the product in question.

However, I do feel that there are some blogs that tend to go overboard with reviews and feel more like an advertisement than anything else.

Overall, I think they’re helpful and I like them!

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117 Linda July 26, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I like to read product reviews, but I’m always weary of reading reviews when items were given free to a personal blog site. There’s a lot more gray area in personal blogs than in a “professional” news/consumer sites where the writer/company pays for their own products and then provides a review. I also prefer to read comparison reviews against similar products, and oftentimes, I don’t find that in the reviews of personal blogs. In fact, most news sites have policies against their writers receiving freebies. It’s just not allowed.

I think personal blogs have a place for introducing new products to their readers, but I consider it to more of an “ad” than a useful review.

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118 daniele July 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm

There are a ton of comments up there – so I’m sure what I’m gonna say has been said!

I like reading your reviews (official and unofficial)! It’s opened me up to some new things – like Sriracha! – and gave me that little push to try something i’d been putting off! :-)

and really, how can anyone criticize give-aways and whatnot on blogs when the conference was held in Swag City? ;-)

KERF is great – don’t let the turkeys get ya down!

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119 Crystal July 26, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I think this is the first time I’ve commented, but you sounded so upset when you were talking about reviews and giveaways. Don’t stop them! I love them. A lot of your reviews are stuff I was thinking about trying, but didn’t’ want to pay for since I had no idea about the product. Seeing you reviews it gives me some idea of whether or not I want to buy things.

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120 Naners July 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Keep doing what you want to do! The product reviews are very informative and they do not overshadow the high quaity content of your writing/food journaling. As long as you use discretion (as you are already doing) in promoting products, there should be no problem.

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121 Kailey July 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I adore your product reviews. Not only do you tell the truth, but you never cross the line by saying every product is amazing and saying its the best thing you’ve ever tasted. You have introduced me to SO many products that I know love – Larabars, Cliff Nectar Bars, Quaker Oats – the list goes on an on.

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122 FitFoodie July 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Wow, that looks like so much fun! I LOVE Paula Deen. I met her at a food show a few years ago and she was so nice too.

I don’t think there is anything with wrong with product reviews or giveaways. I’m honest in all my reviews and sure most other bloggers are too :)

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123 Shane July 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Hi Kath!

I have been reading your blog for awhile, but this is my first time commenting. I am sorry to hear that you felt you/KERF were attacked at the meeting, because you sound so nice and your blog is super professional! Product reviews and recipes are my favorite part of food blogs b/c I get ideas from them (also I love trying new foods, but I tend to dislike a lot of products and then i am stuck w/ a box of something, so I like getting other people’s opinions first). As long as you continue to disclose that you received the product(s) as a sample, it’s OK. Have a safe flight back!

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124 Christina July 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I really like hearing about new things bloggers are trying. I’m always open to new ideas whether it’s a recipe or product and it’s nice to know what someone else thought.

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125 HappyWriter7 July 26, 2009 at 4:55 pm

I saw a news program – I believe it was GMA – feature a story about bloggers getting free items. it seems that people were mad at those who did not disclose. Ive only been reading your blog since Apriish, but you’ve always been so upfront about everything. I dont understand how anyone could ever mistake you for anything besides the professional you are.
I would love to go to one of these conventions. You did a good job covering it.

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126 kelly July 26, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Sorry the trip didn’t end well. I love your reviews. I’ve tried many products at your recommendation and have been very happy with each one. I have always been aware when you received something for free. I say keep it up – you do a great job and your blog is inspiring!

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127 Karyn July 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Your product review question is an important one that I figured would be coming up soon. My suggestions:
1. don’t review so many “not real” food products. packages are easy…eating Real Food is hard.
2. know that every time you mention a product by name, you are generating free publicity for it.
3. spend some time looking into this topic so you fully understand the relationship between advertisers and the media…
4. and most importantly remember — only narcissists take general discussions personally! Kath is not that person! Be Your Own Blogger and keep up the good work.

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128 Liesl July 26, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Kath,
I love that you do product reviews, please don’t stop. It helps us know the facts about products before we go out and buy them. And if someone is reading your blog they must value your food philosophy, so they should also value your opinion on products as well.
Keep you blog going as it is, I think it is fabulous!

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129 meagan July 26, 2009 at 6:47 pm

hey kath,

i enjoy your site. you are the first food blogger i began reading and inspired me to start my own site.

i think it mostly has to do with presentation. there was a time a few months ago when it seemed like EVERY food blogger was posting about this new gadget they received or this new food product and…it was a little much. however, i noticed that your reviews always seemed very honest and not ostentatious. i appreciate that.

you do a great job with your blog and obviously care very much about your readers. keep up the good work :)

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130 Angela (Oh She Glows) July 26, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Wow I am quite shocked that McD’s was a sponsor for BLOG HER?? Wha??

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131 Sarah July 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Kath,

I actually read all of these comments with keen interest. I have a BA in Journalism and took courses on Media Ethics and Media Criticism, so this topic is something I’ve discussed in a classroom and in papers before!

One thing that no other commenters else brought up (I think anyway!) that is unique to your blog is your comments on the nutritional content and ingredients of bars–e.g., I distinctly remember you talking about the Quaker Pure Delights bars and how you wouldn’t get them again based on the nutritional info and ingredients. That was really helpful for me and is the kind of unique service that you provide that some other blogs don’t.

I’m also in grad school and I’m married to a pastor. You’d better believe I take free food samples when they are offered to me–however, like you, I don’t take unless they’re something my husband or I would actually consider eating.

Sorry BlogHer was such a disappointment. I hope you have fun reuniting with Matt and getting out of the craziness.

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132 Another Kelly July 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I think this is really interesting that this came up at the blogging conference but I guess I am not surprised given the lines between blogging and journaling are blurring. I agree with your stance, I think as long as bloggers are accountable and being honest with their readers I think that’s what counts. However I do think that whatever rules are applied to journalists should be consistent for bloggers since everything is murky these days. That said, the one thing I do not care for is when product reviews get in the way of the rest of the content of the site. When it’s a once and awhile thing it doesn’t bother me but when every other post is about a fabulous new product it starts to get annoying. It also cracks me up when some bloggers refer to every product as fabulous. It starts to make you wonder because surely everything cannot be that good. Curious to see how the discussion continues.

I do agree with the other poster who mentioned how funny it is that some of the bloggers at Blogher were opposed to samples and yet had no problem going to sponsored parties.

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133 Kelsey July 26, 2009 at 8:59 pm

i think what is so great about the blogging community is reading blogger’s product reviews. i love seeing what people think of products whether they be restaurants, food, etc. and hearing what you guys say really does make me consider buying/not buying certain things. it makes me more aware and a more conscious buyer and i think this stands for everyone else who reads blogs.
in the end, it is your blog. you have the power to do what you want, no matter what others say. i don’t think i would stop reading your blog if you decided to stop reviewing products or started reviewing everyday! your blog started it all and is definitely an inspiration to all who read :]

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134 Kath July 26, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Thanks for more comments!! You guys are too sweet :)

Those of you who say that it seems I am eating more packaged foods – I’m curious to know what they are!? I don’t feel like I have been eating any more of them (maybe the Applegate Farm’s chicken patties or Pop Chips, both of which I feel are pretty close to real food though…) or maybe I’m forgetting something else, but I am honestly curious to know what seems to be some prominent!

M,
I absolutely report my blog + freelance income for taxes.

Jenn ,
I would definitely be writing without free products!! That is totally not why I blog, but they certainly are a fun addition.

Kath

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135 Faith July 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

What a bunch of fun parties!

I have to say, I always appreciate your product reviews. Your integrity really shines through on your blog, and because of that I know that your reviews are your honest opinion. Thanks, Kath!

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136 Wendy July 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

As others have noted, I really appreciate the product reviews. Since I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, I’ve come to trust your opinion. I’ve tried products and recipes that you have recommended and have never been disappointed. Today was a case in point. I was heading to Chicago as you were leaving. I wanted to pick up a salad on my way out of the airport because it would be late when I got to the hotel. I found Ciba and purchased a very tasty salad. Without your recommendation, I wouldn’t have known to look for that shop. Thank you!

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137 Rainee July 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm

My roommate and I are big fans of your blog. I think product reviews are useful and bloggers do need to make a living. They help me pick new products to try. There are a few things that am curious about and I hope you can answer them.

Say you write a positive review for a product, do they send you more of the same product? Or new samples every time they put out a new product?

Also, when you review yogurt or a juice, do you receive a single tub or a single box or is it a large case/month’s supply?

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138 Jennifer July 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm

I think you have just the right amount of product review, enough to be informative without being simply a review-style blog. And my thinking is that if your samples and honest positive reviews get you to blogging conferences and help you to earn your living, then it’s okay with me.

Please don’t change anything.

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139 Rainee July 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Another thing you could do to quell critics is post about reviewed products that you have bought at a later point.

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140 Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian) July 26, 2009 at 10:26 pm

oohhhh so much goodness in this post:

first, i am so glad you bring up the issue of giveaways and free products. as a blogger, i think free products and giveaways are fun, a great way to learn/find new products and keep blogs fun to read. however, i totally understand the other side – sometimes it can be distracting, a ploy to get people to read or begin to not reflect someone’s real habits.

i just think you have to remember why you read blogs in the first place – as long as you stick to the basics of what you began doing, i think giveaways and product reviews are a great way to add some fun and give people new ideas. plus, blogging is a time-consuming activity – to get free products is a small compensation for all that!

glad you had a fab time at blogher – looks like a blast. happy sunday night to you!

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141 amani July 26, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I think reviews are useful. I also think it’s a good idea to disclose that you got the item for free or are being paid. Not every blogger is as honest and straight-forward. Sometimes the honest people, unfortunately, have to suffer for the dishonest ones.

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142 Christine July 27, 2009 at 12:40 am

Wow, what a hot topic! I just have to weigh in and say that I can’t believe the hypocrisy of theBlogHer group in shamelessly taking huge, huge, huge sponsor money and then telling you that you can’t do reviews on a free sample. It’s one thing if a company is paying you a salary, but if it’s a free bag of chips, I don’t get it. I take it as a message that they think the bloggers who attended can understand the nature of the sponsorship yet readers of blogs aren’t educated enough to understand or can weigh the influence of free products. I find it insulting.

Half the reason I read your blog is to know what else is out there in the food world that i might be missing. I trust that you pick good, healthy foods to eat. I get it that much of them are sent to you.

I think of it this way……the world is so fast paced today that word of mouth isn’t the same anymore. We don’t take the time in our daily lives to discuss the best peanut butter we’ve ever had (well I guess I would, but many others wouldn’t). I love reading about those things you try that you love. And I don’t care that it was free. You’ve been pretty darn tough on some things, some of which I like, so I trust you’re being honest about it.

Why argue with your success? It’s worked for you this far, why change it now? Would you have thought this seriously about it had you not gone to BlogHer?

There’s a lot of things I eat now because of your influence that aren’t linked to any brand name such as different nut butters, kale (love kale chips), soup experiments…. but there are some brands I wanted to try that I felt safe doing so after hearing your review. I’d be disappointed if you stopped your reviews.

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143 Damjana July 27, 2009 at 6:16 am

Hi Kath, I love reading your blog and I have a question for you. Since I read about 8 $ salads and similar food from restaurants I’d like to ask you how much you spend on food per month (just very very approximately).

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144 Linda July 27, 2009 at 9:28 am

Thanks for sharing all the exciting goings-on at blogher. It looked like fun.

I wanted to weigh in on the product reviews and give-aways-
I enjoy product reviews and give-aways. I look for reviews for new products before trying them. And I enter give-aways for products that I am interested in. If those 2 things were prohibited I think blog reading would go down. We would be forced to read the manufacturers info on their own products and everyone knows those are slanted to get you to buy it. The bloggers will give an honest opinion.
It was sad to hear you got such opposition to blogging reviews and give-aways. Hopefully that was just a small piece of the overall opinion on that matter. I would hate to see reviews and give-aways go away!

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145 Kath July 27, 2009 at 9:32 am

Damjana ,
It varies highly depending on the month. In July, we did a ton of traveling, so groceries are only about $100 (which was still a challenge) and restaurant food was probably $300ish? Months when we’re at home I try to keep both groceries and restaurants less than $200. Some months are better than others!

K

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146 April July 27, 2009 at 9:43 am

Wow, I didn’t know blogs had to be so technical?? I love your reviews and give aways! Oikos, Fage, Stonyfield, they’re all great so eat what you like! :)

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147 Allison K July 27, 2009 at 9:57 am

I would love to read through all of the comments on this post, as I’m sure that my sentiments have alreayd been echoed somewhere but, since I probably should be “working” I’ll just give my two cents.

I don’t mind the product reviews, but I don’t love them. And, there are lots of producs i’ve either seeked out, or purchsed when I happened upon them, becaus I’ve seen them around the blogging community.

What gets old is when a company has clearly done a product “blast” so to speak and all of the “major” bloggers review the same product. POM Wonderful anyone? Then it really does feel like an advertisement. And not necessiarly from the bloggers. the company knows how many readers you have, and that most of your readers read the same blogs each day, suddenly we’ve read about Pom Wonderful 5 times in one day.

Also, I think you have the least “commercial” like product reviews. Yours feel more like “someone sent this to me, I tried it, I liked it.”

And I love your blog.

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148 Kai July 27, 2009 at 11:00 am

Hi Kath, not sure how much this will help since I’m well into the 100s in terms of commenters, but just wanted to add my reinforcement of a few points. I’m a relatively new reader (about two months).

1. I think you’re very open with disclosing samples. I appreciate the opportunity to have “a vicarious sample” of a product I’ve seen or wondered about, and you provide that. Even in my only two months reading, I can remember twice that you said a flavor was off or that you didn’t enjoy a product.
2. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and find it incredibly helpful. In fact, I’ve recommended it to a few people! Your commentary on products has led me to purchase at least three things, all of which I thought were WONDERFUL.
3. I think that some of the commenters previously had great ideas: the “would I buy this” or, even better, “this would’ve cost me ___” weekly incorporation into your grocery budget.
4. I also feel that I need to echo the comment that lately you’ve gone more toward “bar form” nutrition, and those are the only posts I really don’t like. I’ve found that, in losing and maintaining my weight, something like a bar provides a false sense of security and an easy entry back into unhealthy eating. I love your blog for the natural, whole food approach. Sometimes a bar makes sense, but to me that’s possibly once/week. I guess it comes down to value: I visit for your wonderful inspiration in eating healthily and wholly, and I don’t feel that’s possible with too many packaged foods.

I know #4 is a fairly selfish point, but it was something I was thinking last week and was surprised to see someone else mention it… so I wanted to add my opinion as well. But, again, I REALLY enjoy your blog and so appreciate it! I will continue to refer people to read it because I think you do a wonderful job of communicating the value of eating and living in the way you do.

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149 Lisa July 27, 2009 at 11:16 am

Kath, I hope that you take my comments contructively. I really love reading your blog, and I don’t want to make you feel bad. In theory I like product reviews. However, when coupled with your grocery budget project, I feel like it’s a misrepresentation of how much you’re really spending on the food you eat.

I don’t mean this to be harsh–you’ve given me great ideas, some of which you may never have been aware of unless you got the sample. But, for example, take MojaMix. I love this idea, but when I went to make my mix it was almost $13 for a 12 oz. package. I would never spend that much for cereal, and on your grocery budget, I don’t think you would either. But, you still have the product to “supplement” your pantry. However, your blog did get me to sign up for their weekly giveaway.

Also, I saw that Stonyfield is a sponsor of the Blog Summit, and one of your sponsors for BlogHer. I’m curious as to whether you get a lot of free yogurt from them, since I noticed you’re mostly eating Oikos these days. Again, I could easily spend $8-10 a week on Oikos yogurt w/out coupons or sales, and that would make it really hard to stick to a $25-30 a week grocery budget.

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150 starr July 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

I’m also going to chime in with the “love your dress”, but I’m going to go a little further…

where did you get it!? : )

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151 Kath July 27, 2009 at 11:26 am

Lisa,
I totally agree with you on the groceries, and I added above that I feel like I have been upfront with the fact that not only do I get lots of samples, but Matt The Baker provides us with our daily bread, both of which lower the grocery bill. I also stated above that I sincerely hope I have not bee holier-than-thou about lowering the bill. But I also think that just because I do have supplemental products, it doesn’t discount the fact that I am extremely mindful of what I do buy and how much I spend.

You are also correct that I have received a lot of coupons from Stonyfield. Like I stated earlier, I feel it would not be the most eloquent every.single.time I ate a yogurt to state whether it was a couponed yogurt or not, but I opening admit that yes, most (if not all) of the yogurts eaten recently have been SF. It is totally not my intention to keep that from you all. As some of the other Summit bloggers have said, we sought out Stonyfield because we truly admire the company, so the relationship goes two-ways.

Starr,
I honestly can’t remember. I think it’s from Loehmann’s.

Kath

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152 Lisa July 27, 2009 at 11:38 am

Sorry Kath–I hadn’t seen your earlier post. Thanks for the response :).

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153 Kath July 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Re. Bars + Packaged Foods,
I am still surprised you guys think I’ve been eating more bars and packaged foods!? I really don’t feel that I have. In fact, I can’t even remember the last one I had. I have been traveling a lot, so perhaps that is the reason? I generally stick to bars that are made of real food (LARABAR is the perfect example) and I have no guilt for eating real food in packaged form when I am out and about. Last summer when I was in summer school I ate a lot more of them than I do now.

Can you give me more specific examples of what you have noticed me eating more of? I am genuinely curious.

Kath

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154 MarlieNow July 27, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I haven’t noticed many processed foods. Just the chicken patties, and maybe a few things while you were out and about.

I like product reviews, and you have addressed my only issue, which was grocery budgeting. You haven’t been holier-than-thou, just matter-of-fact, reporting what was spent. I do find that I have to remind myself that I probably can’t afford the things you’re reviewing, and I’ll need to find alternatives, but that is a personal problem.

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155 Pearl July 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Hi Kath, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and have actually been wanting to comment about this topic for a while. I really believe that blogs should, as much as possible, be forums for personal expression and not venues for advertising. It is so difficult to get away from advertising in every day life, and it’s sad to see that blogs are, more and more, just another advertising venue. Even if you’re advertising about products that you really do believe to be good, the point is that the company is using the blog as tool to get their message across (cheaply I might add!)

There are definitely times when I have been dismayed by how one-sided your appraisal of a product/ company has been. The best example of this was all your positive talk about Lipton during/ after your trip to Africa. I’m not sure if you realize that you were shown one part of an enormous corporate operation. Lipton, like almost every company, is about profit!

That said, I really do enjoy your blog. Please don’t take these comments in a negative light. I’d just like to see more of YOU on the blog, and less of the advertisers :)

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156 Melissa July 27, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Kath,
I love your blog and I do appreciate product reviews…as long as they’re honest, which I think yours are. That being said, I think the summit bloggers have all lost a little personality in their blogs lately and it’s due to what seems to be product placement. There have been days where I’ve felt like I’ve read the same thing on every blog about how great Mojamix is, or Stonyfield, or Amazing Grass. It gets annoying and cheapens the blog. That’s just my personal opinion though.

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157 EatingRD July 27, 2009 at 4:56 pm

You know I’ve never thought about the reviews negatively like that before at all. I’ve never really been asked to review something, but it sure is an interesting topic. I believe the reviews are beneficial, if not in excess, especially the way you present them. I totally agree with the other commenters in respecting your integrity and honesty with the reviews. But, it can be like a commercial sometimes, oh yeah, they get another free sample, again and I can’t afford it. You know I remember you having a mango on something and I went to TJ’s and said, ‘I feel like a mango!’ So brands just kind of get in the way of things sometimes, but I sure thoroughly enjoy your eats! *hugs*
-kristen

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158 EatingRD July 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm

oh I had forgotten that I put a disclaimer like you mentioned on one of my earlier posts, but that’s a great idea to have a general statement on main page, thanks! I really try to watch my budget, but I’m not good with impulse buying sometimes. I try to avoid whole foods because I’m like a kid in a candy store with that place! I love just walking the isles trying to find a new little thing to try and can get myself in trouble lol. I really love your blog for your quick recipes and also your photography, fresh and lovely!

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159 Rose-Anne July 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Wow, this comment section is the most interesting one I’ve read in a long time!

For me, blog-reading is all about voice and personal expression. I think Pearl (# 155 above) said it well when she said that it’s really hard to escape from ads; we are utterly saturated with them! I often find ads on blogs to be a big turn-off, but I’ll still give a new blog, regardless of ads, a chance with me. I feel very rewarded when I discover a wonderful new voice with whom to talk about food and cooking. I have no ads on my blog; I just can’t stomach the idea of making my own little cooking and writing haven an advertisement. That said, I have accepted a few items that were offered to me through my blog. Am I a hypocrite? Maybe, but maybe what’s more important is the balance between free stuff and your voice. If you’ve got the voice, a few free items doesn’t detract much from it.

I am perhaps not your main target reader since I don’t read KERF every day and I’m happy to pop in and out as my mood dictates. I think you have a very strong voice and strong opinions about taste. I like strong opinions about food! Even if I disagree with them, I still enjoy and admire a person who knows what they like. Case in point: one of my favorite men is practically a carnivore and hates nuts in dessert. I’m a vegetarian and like to put nuts in practically everything. (Can you believe him? No nuts in desserts? He’s just crazy!) But we get along well because we have found an intersection between our tastes (lots of cheese!).

I give this long-winded example because this is how I approach KERF: I don’t eat a lot of packaged foods and the odds of winning a giveaway are very low, but there’s enough other fun stuff on this blog that I just skip lightly over the stuff that isn’t for me. However, I would enjoy a more systematic “Would I buy this?” assessment! Or you could even mention in future posts that a new pantry staple was at first a free sample but now you buy it regularly because it’s amazing. I think that’s how new products work with a lot of us, right?

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160 Hangry Pants July 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Sorry I missed this great post. I would like to say that I think you are a blogger I really trust in terms of reviews and I can honestly always tell whether you like something or do not like it. I thought that before working with you on the Summit and now that I know you more I can truly say you are exactly the way you appear on your blog.

As for product reviews in general, there are definitely products that have been reviewed around the blog world that I’ve tried and thought were disgusting , or at least not the best thing ever. I don’t like how everything is fabulous and the best on some blogs and I think people should be more honest, but on the other hand I know what it’s like to get a product to review that you don’t love. As a blogger who receives things in the mail I know it’s not all as wonderful as it seems. There is pressure to eat and review something quickly, but honestly. My favorite part about product reviews is introducing people to something they might not know about that really is great and I would hate for that beneficial part of reviews to be lost. I personally try to do both good and bad parts of a product and identify it as free at least the first time I review it and then link back to my review in future posts.

Also, McDonald’s. Really?

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161 Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom August 4, 2009 at 5:32 pm

As a co-hostess of the UNOFFICIAL CheeseburgHer Party (3rd annual), I’m here to thank you for coming to our party.

Clearly my comment is now buried in the comments section, but I wanted to let you know our history as i can read that both you and your readers are confused by the origin of the party and why McDonald’s was a sponsor.

The party started as a small hotel room party back at BlogHer 07 and has increased in size and popularity each year. We have always eaten McDonald’s cheeseburgers and thus were THRILLED when McD’s embraced our authentic and viral party efforts.

FYI- The party started when a few mom bloggers were snubbed at a fancy invite-only party at BlogHer 07 (sponsored by a popular women’s magazine) and picked up some McDonald’s to take back to their hotel room. Hilarity ensued and a tradition was born.

Rather than write a long post, I’ll just point you to last year post that details the party history. http://suburbanturmoil.blogspot.com/2008/07/cheeseburgher-08.html

Hope to see you and your friends again next year.

Best,
Isabel

P.S. Sorry to read that the cookies didn’t match your expectations (2 pictures of them above), but they were brought in by our friends from the Shutter Sisters Suite in a gesture of kindness, at the height of the party, and there really was no time to lay out the cookies on our platters. And we didn’t want to insult our guests by turning them down. But happy to read you liked the wine label; it is so pretty. ;)

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162 angierunner August 2, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I like how you keep it real in your blog! I just found it and I love it!

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163 Amy Hamberry September 4, 2010 at 6:35 am

KERF!
I am writing to you so see if you would be interested in tasting my Kale Chips. A lot of people order our chips in VA. Have you ever tasted/made Kale Chips?
Please let me know if you have a nut allergy (Cashews) I really enjoyed reading your blog and I look forward to hearing from you.
Keep up the inspiring work.
Amy XOXO

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164 Patrick Del Rosario November 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I enjoyed reading your blog,and you are really doing a great job sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

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