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Everything You Need to Know About Those "Expiration Dates" on Your Food


Have you ever wondered what the real expiration dates are for your pantry food? Have you ever wondered whether your food was safe to eat past the "expiration date?"

Fear not. There is no more need to throw away perfectly good food over a little date stamp.

The problem is – people are throwing canned or packaged goods away on a false perception that the date means expiration. In other words, they fear that the product could be spoiled or unsafe. More on that in a bit.

I visited someone once who was chucking nearly a hundred cans and boxes of food – right into the garbage, no joke. This person really believed that all the food had expired and was unsafe to eat. As though the food had already "gone off."

I pleaded with the person that the food could go to someone hungry but they argued that a food bank would examine the dates and throw them away. If you see food banks throwing away expired cans – or even sealed packaged goods, please tell them that the USDA has recommended that people can still donate food that's older than the stamped date. Even stores are allowed to sell food weeks and months beyond their "past" dates. (Source)

So, anyway, I did what anyone would do when they were assured that safe food is about to be senselessly wasted – I gathered all the food in big black Hefty bags and walked out of there like a reverse Santa Claus scenario.

We waste so much food.

Americans waste an average of $2,000 worth of food each year in some form or another. (Though I don't think I've ever met anyone who wastes nearly $200 of food each month!) Another source says Americans waste one pound of food a day, and that it takes 30 million acres of cropland to produce that food. It's not just average Americans who are involved with food waste, however.

Much of our country's food is wasted before it ever reaches our dinner tables.

One of the ways food is wasted is right in the field. An estimated 20% of crops never make it off the field – they rot. You may have heard about "ugly produce." That's warped looking produce that never makes it to the grocery store even though it's perfectly good to eat. Thankfully, there are finally grocery stores popping up devoted to selling the "ugly" produce so that it doesn't go to waste.

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