There are plenty of things that we tend to disregard once our use for it has passed. If it's out of sight, it's out of mind, as the saying goes. When we flush the toilet, when we throw out the trash, we tend not to think about how the journey hasn't ended for that which we are disposing of. One important example of this is food after it reaches its expiry date, and with so much purchased food already going to waste, it's easy to imagine how many items never make it off the shelves.
I can honestly say this is something I have never considered before, and yet there are hundreds of groceries removed from supermarkets every evening by staff as they near the end of their shelf life. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) research shows that most of these items inevitably do reach an empty stomach. The groceries either end-up in a food bank, salvage store, or gathered by people who solicit the back alleys of markets.
I've always thought of the expiration date as more of a "suggestion" than a rigid time-frame to adhere to. In fact, it would seem that the American Food and Drug Administration would agree with me. With the proper storage, these foods can remain safe for consumption for some time after the date printed on them. These items, which fall into a category called "unsaleables" and includes damaged but safe goods, are heavily discounted to assist those of us with lower budgets. As such, it should come as no surprise with the challenging economic times that purchasing groceries from salvage stores and frequenting food banks has escalated over the past year.
But this practice of donating and discounting nearly or fully expired foods does more than help out bank accounts, it also encourages less wasteful behavior and getting into the habit of thinking beyond food's life in the supermarket. I believe that if we considered the journey of many of things we use then we might make a conscious effort to throw out fewer things, or make more effective use of the items we already have. With the right knowledge and consideration, a lot of the items that might otherwise be overlooked can feed a family that might have gone without dinner, or allow you to make that brownie recipe you've been craving. So don't let the looming expiry date be something that scares you, but instead something that inspires you to think beyond the shelf.