The Hunting of the Snark


The weeping pear

Filed under: Snarky — Jeremy Irish @ 22:56
Tags: , , , ,

In my current workplace, there is a sign posted in the tea room that reads, ‘A third of the food we buy in the UK ends up being thrown away / Sad, isn’t it?’ There is a large green pear pictured. The pear is shedding a single tear for the plight of its fellow comestibles.

Sad? Yes. Frankly unbelievable? Yes.

I just have a really hard time accepting that this problem is laid at the door of the average consumer. It may be that 1/3 of all food is wasted, but surely most of it happens with uneaten restaurant food, perishables in the supermarket, that sort of thing. Corporate greed optimism, right?

However, assuming for the sake of argument that the statistic is correct (only about 10% of statistics are, you know), I have a theory of the single thing most responsible for it: over-reliance on product use-by dates.

The direction to ‘use by’ some arbitrary date is a relative thing; a lot of factors can influence whether food is fit to eat or not. Maybe this relativism merely reflects my attitude as someone who grew up in America. But honestly, I think it’s more important to verify for oneself whether the food is okay or not. Especially with dry and tinned goods, what’s a day or two? Meat and dairy get a little more debatable; still, instantly tossing it out because it’s out of date may be unnecessary.

Otherwise, it gets rather silly. Take eggs. Eggs. They’re individually stamped not only with a use-by date but with a host of other information. At best this is a waste of ink—do you read every egg before cracking it? And some foods are dosed with enough preservatives to last them until the death of the solar system, yet are given shelf lives of months.

The result: far more food is dumped than necessary.

Any chance we could just limit ourselves to buying the food we actually need?

– The Snark


1 Comment »

  1. […] actually worked. Okay, the clips broke frequently, but as a bonus they had plenty of room for a use-by date. Perhaps export restrictions have prevented this innovation from catching on here. Doesn’t […]

    Pingback by This is supposed to be packaging? « The Hunting of the Snark — 12/04/2010 @ 09:39 | Reply

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