Selling Out My Health Principles

by Charlotte on April 23, 2010 · 18 comments

I can be bought. For the low, low price of $80. You’d think my morals would be a bit pricier than that and honestly I myself was surprised but there you have it. Last night and tonight found me parking around back of a large building, sneaking in a door left cracked open, and then jogging up six flights of stairs to arrive sweaty and breathless in a tiny room full of…


I don’t eat white flour, sugar, processed foods, meat with nitrates or even meat at all. I am repelled by foods with words like “lite” and “tasti” in their names. I avoid “cheese product” like the plague. I don’t think I’ve eaten a conventional pizza in years. And yet there I was with 12 other women eating frozen “healthy” pizza like it was our last meal.

You see, I signed up to work for a marketing research company and every other month or so they call me in to test random products. The stuff I’ve tried in the name of research reads like a stranger’s list you find in a grocery cart (anyone else fascinated by those??). I’ve done diapers, muffins, yogurt, cereal, ice cream and lighters among other sundries. And no, smart alecks, I did not wear the diapers, I used them on my children. Who also wore the yogurt and muffins. What can I say? Breakfast is a no-man’s land at our house. If they could’ve figured out the lighter they probably would have burned the kitchen down to hide the evidence.

Although by far the best – and by best I mean “stops a dinner party conversation in its tracks” – product test I did was for feminine hygiene products. We had to save all the used products, wrap them in plastic with the business side facing out and then haul them across town in a huge plastic bag* which we had to return before they’d pay us. Ever contemplate how maxi pad commercials can claim their winged wonder is “67% more absorbent”? Well, you’re welcome.

But back to the pizza**. I had to try eight different pizzas and fill out a survey of what I thought of them. Two forty-five minute sessions and all pizzas nibbled would earn me a nice 80$ check. Never before though had a taste test challenged my moral convictions. While it is true that I am currently a vegetarian – and like it – I have in the past eaten meat – and liked it. So was 80$ worth breaking a year-long streak of no animal flesh?

Apparently. I’m sorry chickens. It was nothing personal. I’m just cheap! Do you know how much “Chik’n***” I can buy with that kind of dough? If it makes you feel any better, I tried really hard to just nibble around the chicken pieces and not actually eat any. I’m so ashamed…

Have any of you ever sold out? How much would someone have to pay you for your used maxi pads? Please tell me so I can feel better!!

*Can you possibly think of a worse job that to be the official used maxi pad inspector?
**The pizzas were everything I’d expect of a “healthy” “lite” frozen “meal”: disgusting.
*** I don’t actually eat “Chik’n” either – I hate processed meat replacements. But it just fit so nicely in that sentence.

This post sound familiar? Most of it – with the exception of the feminine hygiene anecdote which I added tonight – ran two years ago. Fridays are Greatest Hits Day here at the GFE.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

I'm Not Superhuman April 23, 2010 at 2:48 am

I'd sell out for $80. So, how did you find the company and sign up? Pizza taste testing? I'm in!


chariander April 23, 2010 at 2:52 am

From my understanding, these companies are generally just found in large \”market\” areas – fortunately Minneapolis/St. Paul is the marketing hub of the midwest (take THAT Chicago) so I am able to product test for 4 different companies!  Try asking around – in my experience Internet searches aren't very good as the highest search results are bogus companies that make you pay to join.  No legit market research company will make you pay them.


Averie April 23, 2010 at 3:26 am

Nice story. OMG. I have known many people who actually make it a hobby to product test and score some decent cash. With kids though, not something that's easily accomplished. And you have way more than I do! ha!


Girl Hero Jenn April 23, 2010 at 5:26 am

OH. MY. GOSH. You are killing me.

"Ever contemplate how maxi pad commercials can claim their winged wonder is "67% more absorbent"? Well, you're welcome."

I think I just burned 500 calories laughing!!!!

You are shameless and I adore YOU!!!!


Joshua April 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I'd pee in a maxi pad for $5. Probably because I wouldn't actually have to wear the thing; I could just, you know, pee on it.

Can you opt out if something isn't something you can eat (that is to say I'm a vegetarian, and I bit a piece of stray meat on a sandwich yesterday at lunch and spent the majority of the afternoon doubled over in pain because after 16+ years of no meat, my stomach can't digest it properly)? If so, where do I sign up for this?


Dr. J April 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Whew!! I was a little worried that you had gone over to the dark side :-)


chariander April 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm

They'll tell you you can opt out but they won't sign you up for the study if you tell them you have any restrictions.  Sorry about the meat btw!!


asithi April 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Maxi pad tester? I figured they got their statistics from pouring water over a pad like they do in the commericals. Urgh! I would hate to be the inspector.

$80 is a lot of money. But unless it is convenient, I don't think I will actually sell out for anything less than $100. And even then, it depends on what.


Geosomin April 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I'v e done those for advertising, but I never got to try actual stuff.
I think it would be fun…
To me the question arises: what if you * like* what you try too much and you end up having to eat meat just to satisfy your new craving? Or is it an ethical thing and not a taste-of-meat-is -yuk thing?


azusmom April 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I tested maxi pads a few years ago. But I didn't have to return the used ones (yikes!), I just had to fill out a questionnaire (sp?) and return THAT.

And I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of. It's not like you're selling drugs to elementary school kids. You just ingested a bit of animal product and white flour. You are a good person!


'Drea April 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm

No, I cannot imagine a worse job than being an official used maxi pad inspector…Although, I'm sure there are plenty and they've probably been featured on Dirty Jobs…


Jody - Fit at 52 April 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm

With how "poor" I am right now, I am scared to think about what I might do! :-)


KUrunner April 24, 2010 at 12:34 am

Charlotte, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making sure that my feminine products are 67% better.

You'd be surprised at what I'd do for $80. I'm pretty sure I'd stop short of murder and prostitution. You want me to rough up a guy? As long as he doesn't wind up in the gutter, you can have me for the low, low price of $79.99.

: – D


zellandyne April 24, 2010 at 1:25 am


My boyfriend is in R&D at a medical devices company that specializes in gynecology. They regularly have to get study participants to mail them menstrual pads so they can weigh them and determine flow rates.

The up side is I can never gross him out :)


laurelg1 April 24, 2010 at 9:01 am

You are in the wrong field. Stand up comedian would fit you better. I love your posts… thanks for the smiles! And you can keep the maxi testing… LOL


RUNNER5260 April 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

haha..that's awesome.. I've wondered that myself actually.. the things I would do for money. I did the plasma thing through college, which was bad enough, and I would totally do something like this if I could find anything nearby. Although I'm not sure how much it would take to sell me out for the meat thing… I'd have to wait until I was faced with that situation to actually decide I think. Maxi pads, count me in.


Liz April 26, 2010 at 1:25 am

I write a food blog (and in 3 years have gained about 15 lbs hence the reading of fitness blogs) and get invited to many media events and the occasional free dinner. The majority of these freebies end up in my blog with full disclosure and the caveate that if it ain't good it don't get blogged about. (no need to spread dislike). I don't feel like a sell out because my blog is a labor of love that I spend lots of money and time on. And I turn down far more invitations than I accept.

LOVE the maxi-pad story!!!


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