Words by Chan Bam
We’ve all seen the starving-children-in-other-countries infomercials and long-winded feed-the-children commercials but what about our own children here in America?
While the food insecurity stats show that over 16 million children lived in food insecure households, a new analysis of food waste shows that more than 90% of Americans throw out food prematurely and nearly half of that in food supply goes unused.
Why does this happen?
CNN reports that “use by” and “sell by” dates stamped on food is causing much confusion – leading consumers to believe if they don’t eat or use foods by the indicated date, its rendered no good and possibly harmful.
But food dating really doesn’t have much to do with food-borne illnesses or suddenly make your food inedible – it was originated to indicate freshness by manufacturers, to suggest when the product is at its peak.
This new study has shown that the inconsistencies of these “time stamps” are what’s behind the skyrocketing amount of waste in this country. And with hunger amongst our little ones also being on the rise, it may make you think twice before tossing those boxed dinners or canned goods. While I wouldn’t suggest saying to hell with the dates on your food, but at least take a moment to double think before tossing nourishment down the toilet. You may not want to eat it, but that doesn’t make it spoiled or inedible.
Here are some tips on deciphering between the two “use by” and “sell by”:
Use by/Best by: intended for consumer use but is representative of the date the manufacturer deems the product at its fresh peak. It doesn’t mean the food is spoiled or no longer good enough to eat
Sell by: intended for the retailer, not you the consumer. This is to assist when stocking the merchandise, making it available for us to purchase. This helps the retailer to ensure they’re putting out the freshest products and keeping their consumers safe.
Now this info may not have made you change your mind about tossing an entire loaf of bread the day after the dated stamp, or pouring day-old milk that doesn’t even smell sour down the drain – but before you do, at least try to find better use instead of making it waste.
Remember, September is National Hunger Action Month. For info on how you can help stop hunger here at home in America, go to FeedingAmerica.org.
Words by Chan Bam