Sunday, July 9, 2017

The food expiration date conspiracy

And now, a little about the ubiquitous food expiration system:

Have you noticed that almost everything has a "sell-by" date now?  Think about it... this used to only apply to perishable foods, like meat, dairy, eggs, etc.  Which makes perfect sense... I don't want to buy month old eggs or meat that is about to turn.  However, do I really care whether or not my Spam, Cheetos,Twinkies, sodas, etc. are at their"peak of freshness?" Not when they'll taste the same months, sometimes even years, later.

The sell-by date system has become a scam.  If you print that a product has to be sold by a certain date, it is illegal to sell it in most supermarkets after that date (at least where I live.)  Which means that they have to take it off the shelves, and put new product in.  It also means that the unwary consumer believes that the products that he/she purchased has to be used by that date, or else it will not be fit for consumption. So it's a double-whammy:  the store won't sell the product, and the consumer in possession of the product won't eat it.  Which just results in more sales for the food producer, and more food waste overall.

If you want to read some articles about how much food we waste because of the expiration system, I recommend this onethis onethis one and especially this one. The statistics are shocking.

Here is a chart I saw at a preschool explaining how to read expiration dates and what they really mean:

The trick here is to take a look at the specific words used with the date. 

"Expires" (exp) and "use by" are the only true expiration dates. The rest either indicate when the food was manufactured (plain date stamp), or when the food will be the freshest. "Sell by" dates are usually not even meant for the consumer at all, but are there so that grocers know when the look, texture, and taste of the food can no longer be guaranteed. But this food is still safe to eat.

There are some good articles that explain this in better detail herehere, and here.

The point I'm trying to make, which I talked about in this blog post, is that the wasting of food is a violation of Pagan ethics. The food we enjoy and need in order to live is a gift to us from Mother Earth (or the Goddess, or the Universe, etc.) and should not be taken for granted. It certainly should not be needlessly thrown away. Which is exactly what a lot of us are doing, because we simply don't know any better.

Well, now you know, and hopefully you won't be deceived by those misleading expiration dates any more!