Labels and Wasted Food

Larry 'n NassauCouple of weeks ago I was in a surplus food store south of Bainbridge, OH. There was a couple going through the aisles and studying the expiration date on everything they were considering for purchase. If it was close to or past the date they didn’t put the item in their cart.

For several years now just the opposite has been true of my wife and I. We frequently shop in such stores and routinely consume foods that are past their label date. We follow a couple of basic safety rules such as checking the seals on dented cans and making sure jar lids are secure. Whenever I open a jar I listen for the lid to pop or click. This insures there was a vacuum and the contents were sealed from exposure to the air.

I have no idea how many cans of vegetables we’ve served up or how many jars of jams, preserves, sauces, and condiments we’ve consumed. It’s been a bunch and we’ve experienced no ill effects. Only thing that’s happened is us saving a ton of money on our food bill.

While truth in labeling is a good thing it comes with a negative, the fact that Americans waste about 40 percent of the nation’s food supply simply because so many refuse to buy or consume anything that is beyond its label’s date.

Americans simply don’t read and consider what the warning is actually saying. All they see is that date and assume they are going to die if they eat anything with an expired date. What those labels really say is the contents of this package is at the peak of its flavor on THIS date. Or, they say something is best sold by this date or best used by this date. Not that you’re going to drop dead if you eat a Wheaties flake that’s two days past its prime.

I don’t know how long an egg will last in the fridge. We get our eggs from our son-in-law who grows his own. They come in a used paper egg crate that might be dated, 1984. We pay no attention to how long they’ve been in the fridge, we just go get one when we need an egg. Same thing when conjuring up a pot of chili or veggie soup. I don’t look at dates, I just go to the pantry, grab the cans I want, add their contents to the brew and get on with it.

Now, I’m not saying that if there is a jar of Miracle Whip in your grandmother’s ice box that says, “Best if consumed by January 30, 1993,” you should let her continue smearing it on her fried baloney sandwiches. But, I know from experience MW will last long after the date on the label.

The only conclusion I can reach is that we the people need some educatin’ about food labels and maybe the government should revisit just how these warnings are worded. In the meantime you all keep passing up those expired cans of Bush beans and we’ll keep on eatin’ cheaper.

After I wrote this piece I came across another article on the subject. Click HERE.

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