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.
If you want to read some articles about how much food we waste because of the expiration system, I recommend this one, this one, this 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 here, here, 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!