Sure, I accept food from food banks. I live my life below the poverty level, so I supplement my diet by frequenting food pantries when I can.
One of the services offered by the Isaiah 58 Project in Quartzsite, AZ is a free bag of food once a week. I partook of their offerings twice while I was in the town last January.
While getting free food is always awesome, what I like best is getting delicious free food I normally wouldn’t buy. I was pretty excited to find Fruit Squish ‘Ems! in my food bag. I have to admit, I’d never even heard of Fruit Squish ‘Ems! but what could be bad about a squeezable fruit pouch?
I’m not a stickler for expiration dates. Usually I don’t even check. Those dates are typically “best by” dates anyway. Most processed and packaged food is so full of preservatives, it would take a LONG time to go bad. Heck, I even buy “expired” food, as long as it’s deeply discounted.
I’m not sure why I even looked for an expiration date. Maybe I did it because I’d been shopping at one of Quartzsite’s temporary scratch-and-dent grocery stores and had gotten in the habit of making sure items I wanted to buy weren’t too old. Maybe my guardian angel told me to do it. In any case, I did look for a date and found it: June 2014. I received the Squish ‘Ems! in January 2017, meaning their “best buy” date had come and gone over two and a half years before.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that date made me a little nervous.
Sure, there was a time when the date wouldn’t have even made me blink, but I’m older now, and a little wiser, I hope.
My sibling has a Mormon friend. The Mormon friend is into food storage. The friend told my sibling that when it comes to wet and dry food, it’s much easier to tell if dry food has gone bad. The wetness of the Fruit Squish ‘Ems! had me a little worried.
(While writing this post, I did a Google search on wet vs. dry food going bad. I found nothing to indicate the Mormon friend is correct. I did, however, find an informative article about food spoilage on the Business Insider website. The article by Erin Brodwin is called “Expiration dates are bogus — here’s the best way to tell if a food’s gone bad” and covers bread, eggs, fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, and more.)
I wondered if maybe I was just being a wimp. Was squished fruit that had “expired” over two years ago likely to be spoiled? Would it really be “bad,” or just not “best”? Might it make me sick?
I decided to ask for the opinion of my soon-to-be-traveling companion, the man I’d been spending a lot of time with. He’s been a traveler and dumpster diver for the better part of his 46 years. I knew he’d eaten food in a variety of expired and less-than-best states. If he said he thought it would be alright, I’d quit worrying and eat the stuff.
I showed him the “best by” date on the package. I asked him what he thought. He immediately gave me a resounding NO! We did not need to eat that stuff, he told me. I was relieved. He’d validated my fears. If he thought eating the fruit was a bad idea, it was easy for me to go along with him.
I don’t blame the food bank for giving such wildly out-of-date food. I’m sure the pantry gets a lot of donations, and in the haste to get the food to the people, “best by” dates are sometimes overlooked.
I don’t even blame the folks who donated the out-of-date Fruit Squish ‘Ems! They were only trying to help.
I don’t feel the need to blame anyone, but I’m glad I took it upon myself to check the date. Our trip could have been decidedly awful had we sucked down bad Squish ‘Ems!
Oh the drama I too have when I check out the shelves in my refrigerator……the problem is real..I was glad how this post ended with a lesson for us all.
The old adage, ‘better safe than sorry’ is a good one here. IF you had been literally starving you might have tried a bit of it, but since you’re not, it’s good to have the option to just say no. 😉 I agree with you totally about the best by/expiration dates, and I also am not too proud (or nervous) to get food from a multitude of sources (including DD). “Free” is my best price range! 🙂 Glad you didn’t feel like you HAD to take the chance on the fruit-sauce – get some free fruit and just make your own, fresh! https://whatscookingamerica.net/Sauces_Condiments/BasicFruitPuree.htm
Great Post! The old adage, ‘better safe than sorry’ is a good one here. IF you had been literally starving you might have tried a bit of it, but since you’re not, it’s good to have the option to just say no. 😉 I agree with you totally about the best by/expiration dates, and I also am not too proud (or nervous) to get food from a multitude of sources (including DD). “Free” is my best price range! 🙂 Glad you didn’t feel like you HAD to take the chance on the fruit-sauce – get some free fruit and just make your own, fresh! https://whatscookingamerica.net/Sauces_Condiments/BasicFruitPuree.htm Basically looks like homemade (apple) sauce. Bet you could even make it in a thermos.
I would have opened the bag and looked at the food. If the bag was swollen, like filled with gas, NO. If the food looked slimy, moldy or stringy, NO. If it had bugs in it, NO. If it smelled wrong, NO. Otherwise, I would probably eat it. I found a can of corn in the back of my pantry that was dated 2007. I opened it, looked, stirred, sniffed, and heated it up. No issues.
Outdated medication is something else that Americans have been trained to fear. The U.S. Army did some tests ranging up to 40 years, checking various medications. They found that antibiotics, in general, were the most sensitive. Others were still good after 30 years. The meds that fell in between didn’t spoil, they just lost some of their strength. The annual expiration dates on meds are to get you to toss the old stuff and buy new at an inflated price. Who wins? Big Pharma. Who loses? YOU.
America is big on fear — it keeps people sweating and worrying about all the wrong things. In the meantime, our politicians are putting their agenda in place. They want you to fear EVERYTHING because it makes you easier to control: darkness, guns, knives, terrorists, Blacks, Asians, Russians, any Islam person, any Jewish person, people from Mexico, anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotypes, anyone who is homeless, anyone who lives in a van, anyone who doesn’t spend their entire existence swimming down a financial rat hole, breeds of dogs, harmless bugs, all snakes, all spiders, all germs, heights, flying, clowns, being alone in the wilderness, a man with a gun in a holster that isn’t wearing a uniform, what other people think, hell, etc, etc, etc.
IT’S ALL MANIPULATION. By someone. For something.