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.