Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 101: Food Shelf Life

     As many of you well know yesterday was my last official day of my vegan challenge, and unfortunately I wasn't able to write my post until this morning due to my hectic schedule with school just coming back into session. I was determined though to stick it through and write a great conclusion in two posts for the completion of this journey.

     For my last day I decided it would be appropriate to talk about the shelf life of the food that we buy at our various grocery stores, and farmers markets. This information is important for two reasons; health and reducing waste. On one end of the spectrum is the general health concern of expired food. We all have had those moments when we look at our leftovers in the refrigerator that we made last week and wonder if it is still safe to consume without getting sick. On the other hand Americans waste roughly 14% of their food purchases, and 15% of that includes food that were still within their expiration date.

    This information is especially important for vegans who often consume a lot of fresh produce which tends to spoil relatively quickly in relation to other processed foods. In order to better plan your grocery lists so your food doesn't go bad, before you get a chance to getting around to cooking it, I would recommend checking out ShelfLifeAdvise which gives you all the information you need to know about the shelf life or your food, how to better store it so it lasts longer, as well as informs you about up to date food recall information.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the expiration dates on a lot of the products you might pick up at the grocery store do not mean that's the exact date you can no longer safely consume that product. Expiration dates on products is about quality. By giving you a date on the product there reassuring you that by that date you will still have the best quality, but that is by no means the actual shelf life of the product. Many Food Banks and other public dining facilities for those that are less fortunate often take the food that has slightly passed that expiration date and make wonderful healthy meals for those who cannot afford it. I helped out at a food kitchen once, and they had the absolute best produce for it is always the ripest right before it is about to go bad. These public institutions by no means feeds there clientele "bad food" but is taking a step to make due with the waste that the misconceptions on what expiration dates mean produces on a daily basis.

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