Frequently Asked Questions


It’s the Not Entirely Arbitrary Review of Food. That’s a mouthful, so we go by NEAROF. Or Nearof, if you don’t like the shouty-caps. It’s easy to remember, you can pronounce it, and, one would imagine, it’s got a great beat, and you can dance to it.

It’s not entirely arbitrary in that there’s some order in this chaos of foodie fun, even if it usually doesn’t look like it. Just how arbitrary? Meh. The heart wants what it wants.

What makes NEAROF different?

NEAROF is all about the food you eat between epic meal experiences. Our goal is to approach food in a fun and useful way, without any attempt to be pompous, elitist snobs about eating. Eating is a great human unifier, something we all do with varying degrees of interest and intensity. This site is about celebrating the little foodie joys that other more serious food sites tend to ignore. Who else is going to review gum and ketchup chips with the same level of interest as a particularly pungent cheese? That’s us, in a nutshell.

What kinds of things do you review?

The little things. Food items you may not even think of as food items. Beer? Occasionally. Organic food? Sometimes. If you discover a gem at the grocery store, tell us about it. We’re open to suggestions.

We’re suckers for kitchen gear and gadgets, so expect some of that, too.

But we don’t just write food and gadget reviews. We also plan to run features, how-to guides, book reviews and other useful (or at least entertaining) food-related information. We’re making up our mandate as we go along. (And good god, does it ever feel liberating.)

What kinds of things don’t you write about?

NEAROF isn’t interested in writing straight-up restaurant reviews. That’s been done to death on the web, and there are lots of great restaurant review websites out there with searchable databases of maps and menus and reader reviews. That’s not our thing. However, if a new item on a menu somewhere catches our fancy, that’s fair game. But we’re not nearly as interested in restaurants as we are groceries.

Some things just don’t float our boat. Why review eggplant relish if we hate eggplant? Our choice of subjects may seem arbitrary, but it’s not entirely so. (See what we did there?)

Care to elaborate?

No, not really.

Where are you based?

Currently, in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta. Around one million people live in the greater Edmonton area, and we have access to a huge array of foods, drawing on the traditions of a large multicultural community. While the chain eateries rule much of the suburbs, as they do in almost any major North American city, there are lots of interesting independent local restaurants.

In some ways, our location matters. Summers don’t last very long, so summery food gives way early to autumn’s soups and stews, winter’s toasty mugs of hot chocolate, and spring’s Cadbury Creme Eggs. You will see snow in photos. We guarantee it.

In other ways, our location is irrelevant. We can get a lot of the same food that our friends in the States can, but with French and English on the box. If you have no idea where to look for something we review, leave a comment. There’s a good chance another reader may know where to find it in your neck of the woods.

How often do you update?

Back in the day, we tried to post a new story every week, but updates have been a bit more sporadic lately. Some posts are features, while others are quick reviews.

How do I get in touch?

We’re no longer on Twitter, as too many trolls have spoiled the broth. If you’re a PR person with a company looking to send us a sample for review, we’d be happy to hear from you. Get in touch using our Contact Form.

How do you make NEAROF?

Some folks are curious about stuff like this, so here’s the current setup. Right now, we use a Macintosh machine to write, edit and manage the site, along with an iPhone to test mobile compatibility. More often than not, we either shoot photos in our improvised studio space with a Nikon DSLR camera and some wicked Elinchrom lighting, or we make the most of whatever natural light is available, which is tricky in the Alberta winter. We mostly use Affinity Photo and Pixelmator Pro for photo edits, and most writing is done in iA Writer. We sometimes follow CP style, and sometimes we don’t. Because we’re like that. Writing, editing and other production work is done on a Bullfrog-powered computer using green, sustainable electricity — because sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is.

What are your rules for commenting? (Update!)

After being on the fence about comments for years, I’ve finally decided to flip the switch and nix commenting on NEAROF. While I’ve had some great interactions with readers over the years, the site’s growing traffic has meant that I get way more spam than meaningful comments. Most of those spam comments get nuked by my spam filter, but I still have to sift through the occasional junk comment manually to delete it before it goes on the site. I hate that this is what the internet has become.

I think it’s fair to say that comments aren’t what they were when I launched NEAROF in 2010. Personally, I don’t bother reading through the comments on any website that still has them because I know they’ll just make me sigh in despair for the future of humanity. Even on NEAROF, I’ve been shocked by the number of comments I’ve been getting from people who lack the critical reading skills to understand that I don’t actually make the products I’m writing about. I haven’t discontinued your go-to breakfast cereal, nor am I responsible for changing the recipe for your favourite brand of cookies.

More disappointing still has been the occasional drive-by troll commenting on a post to tell me off about some random thing they take issue with, calling me names, and just otherwise acting like the entitled brats that have made social media a hellscape for the normals. If you’re reading free words on the internet about junk food, it means you probably have enough spare time to do something more productive with your life than barge into my virtual house and complain about my taste in IKEA furnishings. Instead of tearing people down, maybe consider building something yourself.

TL;DR: This, internet, is why you can’t have nice things. Go yell on someone else’s front porch, you potatoes.

I love the site. How can I help?

By visiting often, and by telling your friends. Seriously. The more people who visit the site, the better the chance of it sticking around. Tweet and link to our stories on Facebook, and respect our copyright. The more visits we get, the more we can justify making more frequent updates.



(Last updated November 13, 2023.)