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10/26/10 | Eating Expired Food

[ Currently Eating: Dental Floss ]

Ah yes, that ubiquitous question:

Eat or Chuck It?

I’ve often thought that this would make a great reality TV show. Because we know just how GREAT those shows are. It goes like this: line up contestants and put a container of food with a label that says its expiration date in front of them. They either trust the date on the container is correct, or they can call your bluff and eat the food.

Higher elimination levels in this reality game show will feature “obviously” expired food, so that the expiration date doesn’t even make a difference. You know – black pudding, salmon, moldy peaches (ha, not the band), slices of raw liver – just to see who has the cast iron stomach to get to the next round. Last contestant standing, all others eliminated – literally. All contestants will, of course, have to sign waivers of responsibility and blah blah…

Wait, let me guess – you’re the type of person who throws away the milk the day it hits the expiration date.

Shakes head.

No really, I’m really shaking my head. You see, I have a bug in my ear. It’s buzzing.

It is a Class 4 IntelliCovert Miniaturized Operating ThingyDevice. The suits are telling me to tell YOU that there is no conspiracy about expiration dates. That there is no Central HAL-ish Computer subliminally running our lives through these numbers.

Well, they can’t see me typing, so I think we’re safe. At least I don’t think they can detect what I’m typing from the pattern of the sound of the keys I’m pressing, though to be safe I’ve been Hi Pa, Uncle Nathan’s doing just fine! inserting some extra commentary How’s the rutabaga harvest, ey? every so often.

OK, so I’ve pulled a few boners (no not THAT kind of pulling) in my day. I think I may have mentioned this before, but one time (in band camp, of course) I took out a plate of seafood fried rice from the microwave and ate it, thinking that my parents had put it in before they had left for Vegas. Little did I know, it was actually from the day before. Hey, how was I to know – IT WAS WARM.

Son of a gun. I will not even BEGIN to describe the projectiles…

I think I actually fall somewhere in the middle between folks who are paranoid about their milk and yogurt dates being correct, and that lady from the first episode of Hoarders who couldn’t bear to throw away food. Like, the Chicken Tortillla Soup above wasn’t sitting in the fridge. It was frozen solid, so I figured it would probably be good.

Got wood knockers?

The date of January 28 is a little misleading, since there’s no year. Well, it was from the beginning of this year – that’s only nine months expired, so not bad at all, right?

I’m still alive and pearl jamming.

I think with a lot of the “fresh foods” like milk, vegetables, meat, fish – it’s just common sense and using your nose. Stuff like cheese – I’ve been known to slice off the “green” part. Good as new. Moldy bread, good for the head?

A bit more of a gray area when it comes to those dry and canned goods. I think you can usually tell when you open up a can and it smells. Or the bottom of the can has rusted out. Or there’s so many bugs in the dry pasta that it looks like it came seasoned…

My mom is quite a proponent of “Old Food Usage”. Their refrigerator, freezer and pantry are full of all sorts of anachronistic edible treasures. Frozen mystery meats from the 80s. Cans of food where you can tell what era they’re from because of the Mad Men style of font in the titles.

I had to tell her it was time to stop using the old Marjoram to season up stew. It tasted like weeds. I think it was because it was dated 1968…

I have a lot more Matured Food stories to tell but The weather’s been nice here, a little rainy maybe but hey the kids like it I’ve got to run. I’d be curious what the limits are on “expired food” for other Cheap Eats folks…

[Editor's Note: This post was brought to you by Rubicon, the "Soon To Be Cancelled Because Critics Like It But Scuttlefish Don't" show. Season 1 is over, but I'm still basking in that old timey, warm glow of government conglomerate Aunty Nellie is doing fine but her hip's bothering her conspiracy theory. Hmm... I'm slowly realizing that this blog is not really about food - it has morphed into a weird, muddled treatise on Paranoia and its effects on society. I will catch you later, but for now I have to "adjust" the other implanted Class 4 IntelliCovert Miniaturized Operating ThingyDevice I've got on me. Want to know where it is? Surprise Beans!]

3 Responses to “Eating Expired Food”

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  1. ratbuddy Says:

    I have a small section set aside in my cabinets for expired stuff. I don’t know why, but I like keeping it around. I think the oldest resident is a box of Tuna Helper that expired in 2000 or so.

  2. Rick Says:

    This blog post is so perfectly timed – unlike the taco flavored Hamburger Helper I had tonight. One might figure “how bad could Hamburger Helper go?”

    Well my friend, it can go very bad. Very bad indeed.

    While cooking, it smelled good. Ok. Cool.

    Served, it looked like it should. Ok. Cool.

    Then I got some on a fork and put a bite of it in my mouth. It wasn’t awful. Then I realized that IT WAS TERRIBLE! I choked it down, thinking it ought to get better.

    Then I smelled it. It smelled like paint thinner or some sort of industrial chemical. I took a small bite of each component trying to identify which was at fault. The tortilla chips that came with it, which were on all the meat and mixed in, were incredibly rancid. They smelled and tasted like something worse than paint thinner. I threw the whole batch away.

    I looked at the box. It said “Best before October 2006″.

  3. Mike N Says:

    This was a timely post for me as well, because just last night I threw out a box of Banquet brown-n-serve sausage that expired October 2008. HOWEVER, it wasn’t for any fear of health effects, but because (a) I remeber paying 99 cents for it, (b) the sausages were encrusted with ice crystals which represents horrible freezer burn (which tends to happen when you have a 30 year old ‘fridge) and (c) I’ve had a few day+ long power failures since 2008, so they’ve probably thawed and refroze a couple times. I figure it was worth eating (figuratively speaking) the 99 cents.



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