Monday, October 15, 2007

Confessions of a food waster

Yes... this is my confession, I, Sara Coleman, waste food, not just a bit of food, but A LOT of food. I have done this for so many years that I think I am beyond feeling guilty about it, its just part of my lifestyle now.

Each week I spend anywhere for $80 to $150 at my local grocery store, and I would hazard to guess that I probably throw out anywhere from $10 to $25 dollars worth of food every week (*gasp*) .

I know what your thinking, twenty. five. dollars. a week? That amount could send half-a-dozen third-world children to school, put clothes on their back, or even build them a decent home. And here I am tossing it out the window, like its my job.

Some of it is my fault, but much of it isn't. I mean, if fresh bread isn't fresh anymore and we haven't eaten it, it's going in the garbage. Or if sandwich buns develop blue and green mold while in my cupboard for a week, they are garbage too. My wasteful ways just can't be helped in the bread department.

However, when we move over to the fridge, I think my whole food wasting problem boils down to the due dates on food - if food companies just didn't put those damn dates on their products, I might waste a lot less.

When I see the past due date, and I determine I am clearly over it, I don't even bother to look in the container, I just toss it. Now, if it doesn't say PAST DUE: Oct 13, and instead is written BEST BEFORE: Oct 13 - I tend to take a peek at it, give it a smell, and observe it closely for a few seconds - but in the end, I don't want to take a chance, and I head over to the garbage and dispose of it.

PAST DUE to me, means there is NO HOPE IN HELL that it's good. BEST BEFORE to me, means that it tastes its best before the date specified, and after that date there is a slight chance that it still may taste good enough to eat (although I am very skeptical of that).

This has gone on for so long... I am even to the point now that if the BEST BEFORE date is written (for example) Oct 17, and I see today that my grocery item only has two days of its lifespan left, I really examine it well, before deciding whether or not it is worthy of living its last two days in my refrigerator. Often Sometimes my food items don't even make it to their due date... I get rid of them before their end date just to be on the super-safe side.

I know... there are thousand and one people who will eat food items that are well past their due date, but I can't bring myself to do it, I just can't.

Take yogurt or sour cream for example, I know that they probably taste good well past their due date, but if I get it my head that they are close to expiry, even though they taste and smell fine, I second guess myself, and when I do taste them I convince myself that the taste is a bit off, which means the items must go.

I really don't know how I got to be like this, my mother isn't like this... if you have ever seen her fridge, it's jammed full of items, half which are probably past their due date, and my dad is still alive to tell about the past due date food he's had to consume in his 33 years of marriage (Happy Belated Anniversary Mom & Dad - Oct. 12) . If he's living, eating past due items can't be that harmful to your health!

Due dates also go against PC's food policy... he will eat practically anything, and the due dates on food are just a guideline for him, not the gospel. He too, is still breathing and here to tell the tales of how he survived eating past due food, but even with his influence and encouragement I can't convince myself that past due food tastes good or is good for me.

Nope... I don't think there is any way to change my views on this one - past due is past due, and food that is past due belongs in one place only... the garbage!

What's your policy on past due and best before due dates on your food... do you test the waters and eat food that is past the due date, or are you a due date freak like myself, and don't take a chance with anything?

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