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Been a while since I first started using Pact, so I thought I’d provide an update, tell you how it’s going, & give some tips on how to use it.1

To date I’ve made about $68 by going to the gym, keeping a food log, & eating vegetables. Nik has made more than this, because she does a few more pacts than I do. That’s pretty nice. It’s almost paying our phone bill.

Also it drives me fucking insane.

The vegetables thing. The god-damned vegetables thing.

I got that tingly burning sensation in my brain like there’s a major rant coming on, so bear with me.

As I said before, when you use Pact, you vow to go to the gym a certain number of times a week, keep a good log, and/or eat a certain number of vegetables or fruits, with a $5 penalty for every instance you miss. You take a picture of each fruit or vegetable as you’re eating it, & other people vote on whether it’s legit or not. If you complete your pacts, all the money gets pooled from people who didn’t & you get a small cut of it.

Sunday night is the last chance to get em in before you have to fork over 5 bucks per missed pact. Therefore every Sunday night the veggie photo-stream is a goddam shitshow of desperate, grasping fuckwittery. People trying to fob off gummy candy as fruit. Trying to claim their alcoholic beverages as fruits/vegetables.

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Nik & I send each other furious texts some Sunday nights, while she’s putting Malley to bed & I’m at work, both of us gobsmacked over the latest bullshit someone’s trying to pass off as healthy nutrition. Like a “coconut,” which was clearly coconut milk ice cream. That is not a fruit or a vegetable, you lying fucking liar. It took me about 15 minutes to chase that asshole down & report him for cheating, & by the time I did, enough dummies out there had already voted it up to approve it. Other people are clearly cheating — they’ll hold the same banana bitten down to three different lengths, uploading it each time as a separate fruit. Or they’ll eat the same apple four times. Or the same salad three times.

Cheaters are bad enough. I see one almost every time I log on. Then there are the people who apparently just hold up random objects & see if they get upvoted. Most of the time they do get upvoted. In fact I have yet to see anything, no matter how ridiculous, not get at least one vote. Because voters are morons. Our crippled sham of a government has already proven this.

Because of this laxity in the approval process, the payouts have been dwindling recently. Where I was clearing over 4 bucks a week, now I’m not even making $2.50. I haven’t yet hit the point where it’s not worth my time, but it’s trending that way.

Pact users are supposed to be incentivized to be strict about standards & to reject items that don’t qualify. Because the stricter you are → the more junk is rejected → the higher the payouts for people who conform to those standards.

Instead, it’s this irritating process:

People post chocolate cake → which other people approve → because people will approve anything → which makes the payouts smaller → which makes using the app increasingly worthless.

I’d love to see Freakonomics’ take on this.

Is it because individuals encourage lax standards as a way to lower the bar for themselves? Like, if I upvote someone’s popsicle, the standards will become such that I can just eat popsicles & it’s fine? Probably.

Is it because people don’t know what to approve & what to reject? Partially. Some foods that people post are what I could generously call “borderline.” People drink those Naked/Odwalla/Bolthouse Farms things constantly. People call V8 a vegetable. Far too many people crack open a carton of OJ & call that a fruit. Or you’ll see a cutting board of chopped mushrooms, which are classified in culinary terms as a vegetable but which are fungi — they’re not even in the plant kingdom. Other people claim tofu is a vegetable. On its blog, Pact tried to clarify a few things by posting this. And while I don’t envy their task of refereeing the Food Wars I have to say the blog post clarifies fuck-all because the blog post essentially says everything is subjective based on how the community decides to vote — a load of steaming horseshit, because some stuff is objectively closer to vegetablehood than other stuff, & to characterize the essential quality of a certain kind of matter as up for debate or a matter of opinion is wrong. Whether or not something is a vegetable is not in the realm of relativism. Grow some fucking balls. Pact just sorta wimped out & said, essentially, “You people figure it out.”  But some people can’t or won’t figure it out — which is why dipshits post handfuls of gummy bears thinking they’re consuming a serving of fruit because there’s a cartoon of a cherry on the wrapper.

What Pact should have done instead is sack up & create a list of stuff that counts & stuff that doesn’t, Scrabble-dictionary-style, so people can have a rulebook to refer to when they need clarification. Referee this shit. Nope. Instead their post says that, according to various people who work in their offices, a boiled white potato doesn’t count as a vegetable, even though it definitely is one, because it’s “starchy.” And corn kernels do count — technically the seeds of a vegetable & not an actual vegetable, & apparently their starchiness doesn’t matter, even though fucking starch is made from corn. And sweet potatoes, while also starchy, are “a healthy root veggie” & so should count. Got all that? Basically it’s whatever the fuck you want.

I’ve realized that a big problem is that some people seem to be conflating “vegetable” & “vegetarian.” Tortilla chips are vegetarian. They contain/are made from vegetables. They are not vegetables. Tofu is vegetarian. It is a vegetable product. It is not a vegetable. Potato chips are often vegetarian. They aren’t vegetables. Squeeze-boxes of apple juice are vegetarian. They are no longer fruit but “fruit product.” Consumer fruit juices, including cartons of OJ, are generally made of fruit concentrate, water, ascorbic acid, which is a form of Vitamin C, & things called “flavor packets” produced by the flavor industry — because the production process robs the original fruit of its true vitamin content & flavor.  There’s a key difference between eating an orange & drinking an orange juice box.  I’m not even going so far as to say one’s good for you & one isn’t, because we can sit here all day hashing out what “good” means. I’m just saying one is actually a fucking fruit & the other is made from fruit.

You know how Velveeta is described as “cheese food”? That’s because it’s not cheese. It merely resembles it & tastes sort of like it. But it isn’t cheese. Same deal here.

When Pact announced on Facebook it was going to try to clarify some veggie pact issues, there was a bunch of back-and-forth in the comments. Mostly people swearing to the god of their choosing that hummus is a vegetable (see above: it’s a vegetarian product made from legumes) or upset that someone rejected their V8 (see above) or claiming some powdered green shit they found at Trader Fucking Joes with a picture of a leaf & some hippy-dippy name & the word “organic” on the pouch is actually a vegetable (again, see above). One precious comment suggested that keeping the veggie pact strictly to actual fruits & vegetables would be too hard for people. Trigonometry is hard. Eating an apple is not hard. If somehow this is an onerous task, then FO & don’t do veggie pacts.

Excuse after excuse. Nik once came up with a simple & brilliant way of figuring out if something is worth approving or not: You have to ask yourself, & go way deep down here & touch a tender part of your psyche, if this is something you should genuinely be eating more of.  A side of roasted kale: should you be eating this more often? Yeah, sure. OK. Check. A bunch of nachos drowning in cheese & a dollop of guacamole: is this something you should eat more often? What about a lemonade from Starbucks? A slice of banana-flavored cheesecake with a few banana slices for garnish? Look in my face & tell me: Are you supposed to be including that in your daily intake of nutrition? The problem of course with this line of questioning is that it requires people to be reasonably aware & to be honest with themselves, & most people are worse at the latter than anything else in their lives — we’re much better at rationalizing bullshit to avoid cognitive dissonance & provide gratification so our brains get a nice little blast of dopamine that makes everything feel fucking A, at least for a while. We always prefer feeling correct to being correct.

Until people are able to be fully truthful with themselves, & until Pact develops some firm standards, here’s a quick guide. I’m not necessarily saying some of these “no” foods are bad — they just don’t count as vegetables or fruits:

Veggie burger patties

No

Tofu

No

Juice

Not unless you juice it yourself, so show the juicer in the picture

Smoothies

Only if you show the stuff in the blender. If you post a picture of a cup full of brown/green/pink unidentifiable liquid, I downvote it because I can’t tell what it’s made of & I certainly am not taking your word for it.

V8

No

Naked/Bolthouse/Odwalla/&c. juices

Ugh. Probably OK although you’re wasting too much money for something you could make yourself for pennies

White potatoes

Yeah

Potato chips

No

Some sort of “veggie chips” that allegedly are made from vegetables

No

French fries

Homemade yes, McD’s no, come on

Corn

Eh…yes

Corn chips

No

Popcorn

No

Gummy fruit snacks

Fuck you

A couple of celery stalks slathered in 2 pounds of Nutella

Yes, but maybe stop to rethink the point of all this

“Vegan Shakeology”

God no

Fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt cups

No

Squeezable packets of applesauce

Unless you’re 6 or younger, grow the hell up & eat an apple

Mushrooms

Yes, although again, technically they’re fungus & not vegetables, but fine

Spaghetti sauce

No, not really, it’s more of a condiment

Guacamole

See previous

Salsa

See previous

Beans

When they’re a side dish, maybe. When they’re inside a burrito filled with cheese & beef, no

Lemons

You’re lying. No one just bites into a lemon, rind & all, eats it like an apple. You’re a liar.

Something-something, “it says ‘a full serving of fruit’ on the package”

Let me stop you there — the fact it has a package already isn’t a good sign

 

As an experiment, after I finished my veggie pacts one week, I did this.

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It was rejected, 5-6.

Five upvotes.

Wut I can’t even I mean Jesus H. COME ON! This was far too close. Don’t approve this shit!

Listen, my point is, just eat whatever the fuck you want because life’s very short & sucks much of the time, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re having a decent godfearing serving of fruit when you’re eating a pint of Cherry Garcia. It’s fine to eat on it’s own, but keep it off Pact. Let’s keep it to actual fruits, actual vegetables, m’kay?

 

  1. Since I wrote about it, I’ve also found someone on Twitter who feels similarly about Pact. Follow this person here if you’re interested.