By Amanda Wilkes:
There are two kinds of people in this world. The first is the individual who lives and breathes by the “best by” date printed on perishable and semi-perishable foods, throwing the food out as soon as it reaches its day of “expiration.” The second kind of individual will eat and enjoy the food that has exceeded the “best by” date as long as the food still smells and tastes as good as it always had! It is because of the first kind of person that the U.S. wastes 160 million pounds of food each year and 40% of the food produced in this country annually.
People who throw away food that has gone past its printed date do so out of fear that the food is contaminated and will make them sick. Unfortunately, these individuals, who make up 90% of consumers, are mistaken in their belief. The printed dates on these foods are there simply to inform the consumer of when the food will still taste best. Some of these dates are determined by taste tests, while others are just a wild guess. In fact, according to research, not a single food safety outbreak in the U.S. has been tied to food’s having been consumed past the printed date. Instead, outbreaks have been linked to pathogens present in food before or during processing, or from consumers storing the food improperly, such as leaving food in a hot car or not keeping it cold enough.
What we need to realize is that 25% of our fresh water is used to grow food that we throw away, which ends up being a huge waste of resources. That’s not the only way we are hurting our environment … when we throw away our food, it is sent to landfills where it decomposes and releases toxic methane into our already stressed atmosphere.
So, instead of throwing out an item of food because of its “best by” date and immediately running down to the store and buying something new, try to extend the life of your product. Your wallet — and the planet — will be much happier!