Archive for August, 2015

Saving Money with Salvaged Food: Sell-By Dates May Not Mean a “Don’t Consume” Date

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

sell by date

“Sell-by-dates, schmell-by-dates,” says Jonathon Bloom in his book, American Wasteland.  His book examines the massive quantities of food wasted from farm to fork. And it is also the industry that ships and stocks that food between farm and fork that authors like Bloom and the opponents of sell-by pressure that is put upon retail grocers who ask the consumer to not support an industry that, according to advocacy estimates, say that grocery stores discard thousands of dollars worth of “out-of-date” food goods daily.  Even worse, the waste continues at home since many consumers also misinterpret this date and discard those products with weeks of good shelf life still remaining.


Paul VanLandingham, EdD, a senior faculty member at the Center for Food and Beverage Management of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., states that the “sell by” date is the last day the item is at its highest level of quality, “but it will still be edible for some time after.”


Marianne Gravely, the Technical Information Specialist at the Food and Safety Inspection Service blogs, “most shelf-stable foods (canned, boxed, vacuumed) goods will last for years,” as long as it is in good condition. Many foods, she says, will be “safe past the ‘best-by’ date.”  According to the USDA Food Product Dating data, “many dates on foods refer to quality, not safety.”


These codes, which appear as a series of letters and/or numbers, refer to the date and time of manufacture. They aren’t meant for the consumer to interpret as ‘use-by’ dates.  According to the USDA, there is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. The dating procedures are at the manufacturer’s “discretion”, say USDA data, and are a voluntary system used principally as “inventory rotation” by wholesale grocers. The USDA guidelines in this context (see chart below) are chiefly for “packaged foods”—canned goods, dry foods, as mentioned in the USDA glossary.  Perishables, meats, dairy, have a different reference.


Except for infant formula, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations. USDA policies indeed have ‘use-by’ dates on infant formula, and other infant foodstuffs, where its safe use is specific.


A chart of use dates:


Sell-By:  Reflects “peak freshness” of the product.


Best By: The product is at its best when used by this date but you can continue to use the product past the date.


Use By:  The last date the producer will accept responsibility for freshness.


Pack Date:  The date the product was packed/canned.  Not an expiration date.


Expiration Date:  The date by which the food should be used. In some cases the food can still be consumed.


Peter Hamilton

How Tom Reed Ignored my Thoughts on the Nuclear Deal with Iran

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

iran nuclear deal

Dear Readers,


Often times I feel that the political action that I attempt to take through our political system is spitting into the wind. Yesterday, I planned to attend a Town Hall meeting because our local congressman wanted to hear the community’s thoughts on the nuclear deal with Iran. He stated in the invitation, “I care about your thoughts on this issue.” I was unable to attend the meeting so I decided to share my thoughts on his Facebook page as the invitation instructed.


I posted the following on Congressman Tom Reed’s Facebook page:


Dear Tom Reed,


I am writing you this note because I was unable to attend the meeting at the Mina Town Hall this morning. I agree that the deal with Iran is far from perfect, but I do not understand what alternative those who oppose the deal recommend that would not lead to heightened military involvement.  What do you propose as an alternative to the deal?


I am certainly not a military expert, but the fact that 36 retired military officers contend that the deal is the best way to inhibit Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons makes it appear to be the most viable option. Their informed opinions matter.


This deal could halt the momentum of Iranian nuclear weapons programs for 10 to 15 years and in the meantime we can have a dialogue for a more peaceful solution thus avoiding another military quagmire in the region.  The deal represents diplomacy, which is favorable to military aggression whenever possible. Moreover, as you are well aware, we signed the deal along with five other nations who have all done research that has led them to conclude that this is the best possible action. The dangerous years of the United States taking unilateral action without careful consideration of the point of view of our allies has led us into costly and protracted military endeavors throughout the world that are bankrupting our economy. This has creating untold suffering for millions of other people. This deal with Iran is far from perfect, but if it limits their capabilities for more than a decade and is part of a shift to a more diplomatic and multilateral approach to international relations, it is a step in the right direction.




I returned today to see if the congressman had responded to my thoughts. I found that my post had been shuffled to some back-alley of his Facebook page, where no one could view it. However, the page had been updated. There was a short video presentation from other constituents that was a series of short phrases.  The video consisted of four utterings about the nuclear deal that read: “Our Supporters Believe the Iran Deal is…” The responses were: “Unamerican!” “Abysmal,” “A mistake,” and “A detriment to the world.”


How can we have a real discussion about important issues if legislators only want to hear from people who support their biases? How can a discussion about something so important and complex be reduced to simple outbursts that it is “Unamerican!” (whatever that means)? We should demand more from our politicians and the political system as a whole.



Congress considering “The Low Income Solar Act”

Monday, August 17th, 2015


Sustainable energy is the future of our economy. Now is the time to consider new ways for our society to break from our addiction to fossils fuels and find greener alternatives. Right now congress is considering “The Low Income Solar Act,” which could make solar energy accessible to a larger portion of the population than ever before. Click on the link below for more information on the act and sign the petition:


Solar Act Link

New York State to Vote on GMO Labeling

Sunday, August 9th, 2015


The fight over genetically modified food continues to rage with large corporations like Monsanto pushing policy. The issues are complex and there are few easy answers. However, one aspect of the discussion that is important is GMO labeling.  We deserve labels that reflect what is going into our food. There are currently two bills in the New York state assembly that will address GMO labeling.


For more information click on the link below: