I hate throwing away food.

I am cleaning and organizing my pantry.  In it are lots of expired foods.  Food I never ate and am now going to throw away.

It’s a terrible thing and exposes me as the ugly American that I am.  I often buy a thing because I’m sure I will eat it or use in a recipe and then it languishes forgotten on a shelf.

3 years ago I lived in a car and quite naturally didn’t have a pantry of food.  And this year I’m throwing away food.  In just three years I accumulated enough to nearly fill the kitchen trash can with expired foods in packages.

I admit it – I have been carefully and thoroughly inoculated by the American Food Industry.  I won’t eat their food after the little printed on date. I am aware that they are probably still safely edible.  There is a whole ridiculous thing around food expiration dates in the US, which basically mean nothing.

Expiration Dates are triggers the manufacturers put on the packaging, sometimes by law, sometimes because it’s just damn good business.  They make us feel that the food turned bad on that day but in reality it’s just a date, often fairly arbitrary, that the manufacturer claims the food won’t taste as good anymore.  Of course it is also a nice way to get more sales. What it ISN’T is a date when the food is no longer safe.  But consumers think it’s that.

But…  But… there are a few foods that can go bad after a period.  Not all of them have obvious warnings in smell.   And that right there is just enough uncertainty for me to throw it all away if the expiration date has past.

The likelihood is that EVERYTHING I am throwing away is fine.  A kitchen trashbag full of perfectly edible foods.  Most free food pantries won’t take expired food either.  So that’s not even an option.  Plus that feels even shittier somehow – like throwing a moldy bread crust a starving man.  So yesterday I bought $20 of non perishables for the free food store.  Because… it felt like a bit of nonlogical atonement for my sin.

I live in middle of a boxing match in my head.  The Intellectual knowledge and the guilt of throwing away food vs the FEAR of bad food.  Fear has won.  Guilt is throwing a wake for my morals.

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11 thoughts on “I hate throwing away food.

  1. I know. I studies those items for a long time before I just realized I wouldn’t eat them even if I kept them. So I let it go. I need to figure out a way to only buy what I know I’m going to use because this is just terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve worked hard on not buying something unless I am sure (real sure) I am going to use it. Sometimes I buy food for my fantasy world (I’m going to bake a nice cake this weekend.) Of course I never do! I’m trying to fantasy buy food for that fantasy world where I cook wonderful gourmet stuff. (Sure hope some of the that made sense!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally get it. I would be great at Fantasy Shopping because I hate ACTUAL shopping. And you would think this would make my pantry a stark bare cupboard.

      Except I know I SHOULD make this meal or that because I eat terribly normally. And if I would just cook, I would eat better, so occasionally I get motivated and my fantasy starts down the road to reality and I buy ingredients. Thus the pantry is filled with the half bubble dreams of meals that never materialized.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. My wife laughs at me as I am Mr. Leftover. I will eat on meals long after she will and take some gratification that we finished off the lasagna or chicken casserole. As for those expiration dates, I saw a series on how much food we Americans throw away, even decent vegetables that are not picture perfect that never make it to a store or food processing plant. The expiration dates are most often suggestions, as you note. Best eaten by xx/xx/xxxx.

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    1. I’m a fan of leftovers too. My Mom could magically turn every set of leftovers into a one time only casserole that would be so delicious and so sad because it was just made with the leftovers on hand and whatever was in the kitchen.

      I was wishing I had chickens so that when my stupid brain wouldn’t eat the food I could at least give the food to the chickens.

      I hope the human race will look back at our time and cringe at our waste and our callous disregard for the way we produce food. I hope we solve this. But I don’t know how we will without creating shortage which is terrible too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We do need to figure this out. By the way, I finished off two leftovers for breakfast and lunch today. The key is to eat anything for breakfast from
        Mac and cheese to a baked ziti casserole. My wife said I can’t believe you ate that, so I told her about your blog post.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I’ve never felt the need to stick to breakfast at breakfast time. My dad used to serve me cold spaghetti for breakfast and I thought it was the treat from heaven. I think that taught me that good food is good whenever. Although, I do question my childhood tastebuds when I thought COLD spaghetti was fabulous.

        Liked by 1 person

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