Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Frightening Addiction Crisis Facing Veterans

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

veteran flags

America’s veterans are not strangers to addiction. While rates of drug and alcohol dependency are startlingly high across the country, veterans face this issue at nearly 1.5 times the rate of the civilian population.


According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one in ten soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were seen for a substance abuse issue — however, those numbers miss soldiers who never sought treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration puts the overall rate of substance abuse among post-9/11 veterans at 12.7 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for the general population.


The largest factor contributing to the substance abuse endemic among veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects 18.5 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and two in ten veterans with PTSD also live with addiction. Large-scale studies found that nearly half of all people with PTSD meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. It’s postulated that the main driver behind the co-occurrence of substance abuse and PTSD is avoidance. Avoidance of trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and reminders is a criterion for diagnosing PTSD, and drugs and alcohol provide a way to escape negative thoughts.


In addition to PTSD, veterans may have a traumatic brain injury or chronic pain, both of which can spur a substance use disorder. Veterans may struggle with a loss of identity after leaving their military career, especially if it was due to disability, and turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with depression symptoms. Sometimes, substance abuse is a leftover habit from a military career, where alcohol can play a big role in the social sphere or be used to deal with a high-stress job.


The high rate of substance use disorders among veterans has even bigger implications: Substance abuse is a leading risk factor for suicide. The unfortunate reality of this link is already revealing itself in the veteran suicide rate: 20 veterans commit suicide every day, and veterans account for approximately 20 percent of all U.S. suicides despite representing less than 10 percent of the population.


While treatment for substance abuse disorders is available, veterans don’t always receive help. In 2014, only 30 percent of veteran suicide victims were receiving services from the VA healthcare system. While their closest VA Medical Center is where many veterans turn first when they need medical care, it isn’t the only option for substance abuse treatment. Veterans with additional health insurance can apply it to care received at a private rehabilitation facility. Private treatment centers can let veterans circumvent the long wait times that often plague VA services and receive treatment exactly when they need it.


When the substance use disorder co-occurs with post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health care becomes an essential piece of the recovery puzzle. There are numerous treatment options that veterans with PTSD can benefit from. Trauma-focused psychotherapy is a popular and effective approach to treatment that helps veterans unpack and reframe their trauma. Trauma-focused psychotherapies include prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Veterans with PTSD may also benefit from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, medications traditionally used to treat anxiety and depression, or from other medications and therapies that relieve PTSD symptoms.


It’s clear that addiction is a serious problem facing veterans today. Substance abuse impacts everything from the high rate of veteran suicide to the high rates of veteran homelessness, unemployment, and poverty. The only way to protect veterans is by refusing to sweep drug and alcohol abuse under the rug. Healthcare providers, as well as the VA, must instead focus on helping every veteran who needs addiction treatment to receive it.


Constance Ray


Note:  Constance Ray started with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.

THE RETURN OF THE ANTI-MAN: Where Has All the Real News Gone?

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

For over two years now, I’ve been away from Can the Man.  I needed a break, a reprieve, from the constant onslaught of depressing news bulletins and tragic incidents of the world.  To do so, I moved halfway across the country to a home without cable or internet and removed myself from the current event world I was drowning in.  Twenty-four months, several jobs, and three domiciles later I’m back, chomping at the bit to let this Anti-Man voice tear out into the void and hopefully make some sense of the disheartening world we live in.


When I left CTM, the 2016 election was still a distant thought and I was still very confident in a bet with my grandfather in which I stated I would “eat my own shorts” if Donald Trump even made the GOP primary debate stage.  Oh how wrong I was.  Thankfully, grandpa doesn’t remember and my shorts, and my stomach, are safe.


There are still the same old problems with North Korea, Iran, and terrorism.  The same wrinkled faces are still voicing their displeasure about insuring the poor and vulnerable.  The more you stay away, the more things stay the same.  I’m still, for the most part, disconnected from the news cycle.  But if Trump is excels at one thing, it is creeping his orange face and wispy combover into every nook and cranny a good citizen like myself could possibly hide in.  It would be easy for me to rant and rave for pages about Donald J. Trump, but what could I possibly say that hasn’t been said?  More so, what could possibly be said that would elicit a sane, thoughtful, and honest response?  Our President reacts with more conviction to Twitter arguments than he does to Congressional hearings that implicate him in scandals not seen in this country since Watergate.


Trump expresses more concern and condemnation over business leaders leaving his innercircle than he does over far-right “Neo-Nazi’s” demonstrating hate as freedom of speech.  I never expected Trump to want to tackle social issues, much less do it with grace.  But to see such a complete lack of societal awareness actually takes work.  Nobody can change Donald Trump or the outcome of the election, but what I can do is re-insert my voice into the discussion and hope to enlighten the minds of some readers.


Trump is treating the White House as a special season of “Political Apprentice.” However, for his devoted followers to still remain oblivious to his obvious ineptitude is baffling. Look at the revolving door of staffers.  This isn’t an ABC airing of “The Apprentice:  Commander in  Chief,” this is real life Donald, and real people have things at stake because of you.  The United States of America imbibed so much reality television, that we turned into the world’s worst syndicated daily program.  Other countries tune into our news the way I used to tune into MTV’s Jersey Shore.  I watched to make myself feel better, knowing that I could never be that stupid, drunk, or ignorant.


I’m out of the doldrums of office life, but it doesn’t mean a vacation from the Man.  He still lurks out there, around every corner, waiting to snag just another dollar of your paycheck or remind you that control is just a privilege given to the powerful and rich.  The Man is more powerful than ever and will never stop working to supplant the everyman.  But that is why the Anti-Man exists, that is why I’m back, and I’ll work even harder now to keep those iron hands away from our throats.

-Spencer James-


A Look at The Options After The Election

Monday, November 28th, 2016
It ain’t over yet. Donald Trump is not yet president and it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.  As we all know, Donald Trump would ban fat ladies if he had the chance which, in this case, might not be such a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any fat ladies singing about the glory of President Trump. That is why I’ve put together an article explaining two ways that Trump can be stopped form becoming President.
I’ve also put together a petition at Change.Org that explains why the selectors MUST dump Trump if they are to fulfill the mission envisioned for them by our Founding Fathers.
There are two other petitions that I recommend signing.  This petition asks the electors to reject Trump and elect Hillary Clinton instead.
The article that I wrote discusses the possibility that the vote was rigged against Hillary. Whether it was rigged or not, many have lost confidence in the integrity of our electoral system. That is why I encourage you to sign this petition to have the vote audited. I also recommend calling the Justice Department switchboard (202-353-1555) and asking them to audit the vote.
The odds of preventing Trump from becoming President are slim.  But then again, most people thought the odds of him being elected President were slim. Let’s not give up yet.
Robin Messing

John Plumb, Citizens United, Trump, and Tom Reed—Or The Good, The Bad, and Two Uglies

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Do you find this election season taxing?  Then your name isn’t Donald Trump. He finds almost nothing taxing.  He’s almost as good at dodging taxes as he was at dodging the draft.  Between being a tax dodger and a charity cheapskate, Donald Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself.  He even admitted during a rare moment of truth that “I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy I’ve grabbed all the money I can get.


“I’ve grabbed all the money I can get” would be a great title for a movie based on Trump’s life.  And I would make that movie if I had a sizable budget and decent movie making skills.  Alas, I have neither. But I have a script for two commercials based on his life.  If you would like to use my script to make your own commercials, be my guest.


You’d think it would be a cakewalk for Hillary to win this election given that Trump makes Lord Voldemort look like a cuddly Tribble.  But it seems like Hillary has the deck stacked against her as she fights an uphill battle against online trolls tweeting support for Trump from Russia, WikiLeaks email dumps intended to sabotage her campaign, and James Comey’s bombshell about emails that he had not yet seen and that Clinton may not have even sent.  Fortunately, we have two things working for us.


1) Logic and reasoning based on evidence.  I know, I know. Logic and reasoning will bounce off most Trump supporters like bullets bouncing off Superman’s chest, but logic and reasoning can convince at least some people that there are three good reasons why we should take the WikiLeaks email dumps with a grain of salt.


2) The Trump campaign’s gross incompetence in the wake of Pussygate.  We should all express our gratitude to Melania Trump’s lawyer for providing us with comic relief by inadvertently strengthening the claim that Donald Trump groped Natasha Stoynoff. There is nothing funny about sexual assault itself, but the incompetence of the Trump campaign in handling the many accusations against Trump is almost humorous.


And thank God for their incompetence.  We need all the help we can get. If Donald Trump is elected, we will be longing for the good old days of Richard Nixon.  Nixon may have had his secret enemies list, but he never made any statements that could be remotely construed by his supporters as a suggestion to assassinate his political opponents.  And he never suggested that he might lose an election because the election was rigged against him.  Yet Trump has done just that, and in doing so he has sowed the seeds for revolution and civil war.  Donald Trump, like no other politician in my lifetime is an existential threat to our democracy. (And I’m an old fart whose first political memory was the assassination of JFK)


But that doesn’t matter to my Congressman, Tom Reed.  Reed, as you may know, was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters.  I published an open letter to him in August in the Ithaca Journal demanding that he renounce Trump or be seen as a hypocrite for bashing both President Obama and John Plumb, his opponent in the NY 23rd Congressional race, for being soft on Russia. There was no response from Reed in August.  And still, despite all that we have learned about Trump since then, Reed has clung to his endorsement of Trump like it was the last life preserver on the Titanic.


I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by this.  After all, Reed’s foreign policy has all the substance and gravitas of cotton candy. It is a house built on a foundation of platitudes, not plans. It is as meaningful and deep as a debate over whether Miller Lite beer tastes great or is less filling. And nothing demonstrates the contrast between Reed’s know-nothing approach and John Plumb’s measured experience than Reed’s discussion of how to handle ISIS and Islamic extremists. I watched Plumb when he debated Tom Reed this week.


I hope you will read my comparison of Reed’s and Plumb’s plans for fighting ISIS, but in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, then know this: I wrote to Malcolm Nance, author of “Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe“,  and asked him what he thought of Plumb’s plan.  This was Nance’s response:


“It’s a very sound strategy. We are doing quite a bit of it but overall, it’s excellent. I also see he was on the NSC. [National Security Council] That may explain why he has a fight smarter, not harder strategy.”


I met John Plumb twice when he was visiting Ithaca and I watched him when he debated Tom Reed this week.  The more I have seen of him, the more impressed I became.  One of Plumb’s top priorities is fixing our broken political system by passing a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.  As far as I know, Reed has never taken a stand against Citizens United. But in 2011 he did meet an almost perfect poster boy for Citizens United–an illustrious multi-billionaire who, two years after meeting with Reed in Israel, declared that he wanted the United States to nuke Iran. Who is this poster boy? Hint: He owned the only major newspaper in the U.S. to endorse Donald Trump as of October 16.   If you still haven’t figured out who our poster boy is then you’ll just have to pop over to my website and read about John Plumb, Tom Reed, Citizens United, and the mystery wannabe bomber.


Robin Messing


Presidential Angst

Monday, September 26th, 2016



I would like to vote for Jill Stein, but I won’t.


I would be a liar if I told you I was for going to vote for Hillary Clinton enthusiastically and without reservations.  I am concerned with her lack of judgment about her email server and her neoconservative worldview, especially in the Middle East.  But America will survive four years of Hillary Clinton.  I’m not sure the same can be said about four years of Donald Trump.  Trump poses an existential threat to our nation like no other candidate that I can remember, and my memory extends back to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.  If Trump is elected we will be longing for the good old days of Richard Nixon.


Think I’m exaggerating?  Well, I’ve put together a little list of articles to PROVE that a Trump presidency would be a disaster.  Oops, let me correct myself.   I’ve put together a HUUUUUUGE list to prove that after four years of Trump we will be wishing we had voted Cthulu for president instead.


It is not a complete list covering all the reasons why Trump is the least qualified major candidate in American history.  I’d LIKE to put together a complete list, but I’d have to quit my job and devote ten hours a day to document his shenanigans.  Still, I have compiled a list that should meet most of your anti-Trump needs.  And I have annotated the list and quoted many of the highlights from the articles in case you don’t have time to read the entire articles themselves (though I do highly recommend reading the articles in their entirety.)  Bon Appétite, and try not to barf.


Trump has told us he’d surround himself with only the best people to help him run the country.  However, his hiring of Roger Ailes, the Bill Cosby of Television News, and Steve Bannon, the poster boy for the neo-fascist alt-right movement, to help him run his campaign should make us question his judgment.  Even the doctor he chose to evaluate his fitness for office is, shall we say, eccentric.  I have compared the medical report produced by Trump’s doctor with the report produced by Clinton’s doctor.  One is a joke; the other isn’t.  Trump recently went on the Doctor Oz Show and had Dr. Oz explain the significance of his original doctor’s report.  However, Doctor Oz  is not without controversy.  I have updated my original article with a couple of videos by John Oliver to help you understand why Oz is so controversial.  After reading my update and watching  Oliver’s discussion of the good TV doctor, you can decide for yourself whether we now have a complete and accurate picture of Trump’s medical status or whether we have been handed the greatest snow job since the Blizzard of Oz.


All of which brings me back to why I will vote for Hillary and not Jill Stein.  Jill Stein has no chance of winning.  I have a greater chance of catching a Tyrannosaurs with a butterfly net than Stein has of being president.  But she could take votes from Hillary and hand the election to Trump.  This is not a hypothetical.  It happened before in 2000 when Ralph Nader played the Bozo and got George Bush elected.  Had Nader not run, Al Gore would have won.  And if Al Gore had won we would not have invaded Iraq or seen the rise of ISIS.  Much as I approve of many of Stein’s positions, we can’t afford to allow her to play the Bozo this year. We can’t afford to let someone with Trump’s temperament get his hands on nukes.


So I will be doing everything I can to make sure Trump doesn’t become president.  But there is one office he is eminently qualified for.  Can you guess what it is?


Robin Messing


Robin Messing on Robin Messing:


I’ve always been a bit of a news junkie–no, that’s too mild a term.   I’m actually news obsessed.  My idea of a good time is spending hours on the computer reading various news sites and throwing in my two cents which, adjusted for inflation, is now worth a stick of chewed bubble gum and some pocket lint.


I graduated from Cornell University long ago and never left.  I now work at Cornell in one of the greatest libraries in the world.  However,  the opinions I express are my own and not Cornell’s.  In fact, I was hanging around in the library one day when I saw Cornell University reading one of my columns at a computer station nearby.  He was shaking his head and muttering under his breath–”Robin Messing??  Don’t know him.  Never heard of him.  I don’t WANT to know him!”


But enough about my biggest fan.


I was a bit of an activist–or more accurately a self-recognized unknown arm chair analyst back in the early 1980′s when I supported a nuclear weapons freeze and opposed Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program.  That was an anti-missile program that would, according to Reagan,  render nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete”.  I really knew my stuff back then.  I could tell you the number of warheads on an MX missile or the throw weight of a Minute Man missile. But as time passed the only things that became impotent and obsolete were the Soviet Union, the Star Wars Program, and my memory of arcane weapons-related trivia.  (Though my favorite trivia question is still defense related–”Robert S. McNamara served as Kennedy’s Defense Secretary during the Vietnam war.  What was McNamara’s middle name? Hint, it’s a very strange middle name.”)


Flash forward to about 2011 or 2012. I became very interested in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and in our negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program.   The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is extremely complex with plenty of fault on both sides.  I can’t possibly sum up my thoughts on the conflict here except to say that Israel will never have true peace until the Palestinians have some measure of justice, and the Palestinians will never have some measure of justice until the U.S. takes a more neutral position between the two sides.   I strongly support the Iranian nuclear deal.  Without it, we would have probably gone to war with Iran by now.  I discuss these issues in much more detail in my blog at


However, as important  as events in the Middle East are to our national security, nothing is more important than the upcoming elections.  Donald Trump poses an existential danger to the United States and the world, and as far as I am concerned all other issues are secondary to stopping him.  That is why I have dropped my focus on Israel for the last few months and have concentrated my fire on Trump.


The Persecution of Falun Gong and Halloween Decorations

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

falun gong

One of the greatest secrets hiding behind the iron gates that the Chinese Communist party has placed around the hearts and minds of many Chinese is the persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong, which translates to “Dharma Wheel Practice”, has ancient roots steeped in Chinese moral traditions and qigong a practice which emphasizes meditation and energy movement.


The Falun Gong movement, founded by Li Hongzhi, harnessed these roots to create an entire spiritual system  in 1992. The popularity of the movement grew quickly and within a few years it had millions of followers within China. Then the Communist Party began to view this group as a threat since they were a large group that had philosophical differences from the ruling party.  There was reason for concern because by 1999 Falun Gong had swelled to a group with 70 million adherents. At this time a faction of 10,000 gathered in Beijing for a peaceful protest to demand that they would be left alone by authorities. Then began a brutal crackdown on the movement that included wrongful imprisonment, extreme torture, and in some cases it was reported that adherents of the movement were used for organ harvesting. This backlash included a powerful propaganda campaign run by the state, which shattered the Falun Gong movement, and forced its members to flee.


Founder Li Hongzhi has lived in the United States since 1996 and has continued to spread the Falun Gong teachings. During a recent trip to New York City I met some members of Falun Gong who were adamant about getting the word out about their cause and sharing information regarding their persecution in China. They handed me literature with details of the central tenants of their movement and the mistreatment by the Chinese state.


Falun Gong has special significance this week as there has been a large body of evidence that imprisoned members of the group have been forced to produce products that are sold in the U.S. Among these products are seasonal decorations. A mysterious note tucked into a Halloween decoration in Oregon broke the silence of how the adherents of Falun Gong had been forced into slave labor. For more information check out the links below:




Considering Cuba During the 70th United Nations General Assembly

Monday, October 12th, 2015

I had the fortune to be in New York when the United Nations General Assembly was held. The General Assembly began on September 28th and ran through October 3rd. It is the largest annual gathering of world leaders with the purpose of discussing important geopolitical issues. This attracted a cast of characters from all corners of the globe to give impassioned speeches, to gain world attention for their particular causes. Admittedly, I caught only small portions of the speeches on TV.  But I did get to see pieces of Obama’s polished and staid oratory, along with the photo of his epic stare-down with Vladimir Putin. Benjamin Netanyahu appeared scary and vociferously unrepentant whereas Polish president Andrzej Duda verged on being colorful.


Obama and Putin


The New York air was thick with diplomacy. As I rounded the corner near 38th and 3rd on the east side of Manhattan’s to attend some routine business at the South African Embassy, I ran into a group with more than one hundred people who were barricaded into a portion of the sidewalk. Immediately I noticed a handful of NYPD glowering at them.


Cuba Demonstrators in New York City


Their signs read things like, “end the embargo,” with a large banner that said “Welcome, Raul Castro!” They chanted “North, South… we’re all Americans.” When I stopped and asked them what their purpose was, they told me that they were standing in solidarity with Cuba. I was surprised to see the open support for Castro and also the police surveillance.


Welcoming Castro to New York

Barack Obama and Raul Castro Meet In New York


Castro showed up for the General Assembly and was reportedly well received. He had a meeting with Obama which was cordial, peppered with small talk about a recent visit by Pope Francis to both of their countries. One of Obama’s greatest legacies will be working toward more normal relations with Cuba. Although he has not lived up to his promise to close Guantanamo Bay, he has at least made progress. His advancement is evident in the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in turn opening in Washington D.C. in July. We have come a long way since the Bay of Pigs, but the progress in relations have been conspicuously minimal through the Bush Administration.

Cuba and the Embargo


Cuba and New York City


As many of the demonstrators demanded, there must be an end to the painful embargo against Cuba. This drastic measure has caused incalculable suffering in the nation for decades and is cruelly levied against the people of Cuba, who do not threaten the United States. They do not deserve to continue to be punished by a wilted piece of diplomatic history. Many exonerate Obama because they blame the inability to do so on an incompetent Congress that remains ignorantly and ideologically opposed to lifting the embargo.  Why?


While human rights abuses are used as a scapegoat to block the embargo, it is the embargo that continues to inflict suffering on innocent human beings. The reality of the situation is that the maintenance of Guantanamo Bay symbolically represents hypocrisy because innocent men have been released after being detained in extreme conditions for extended periods. Many men are held with little evidence and no access to justice. No doubt there is at least one innocent man who is still being detained in Guantanamo while Cuban children go without necessities because of an exceptional U.S. moral higher ground. Like the demonstrators, we must demand change.



Contemplating Intuition and Spider Sense, During Deep Meditation

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

spider 1

While meditating next to a pristine lake, somewhere deep in the Canadian wilderness, this outrageous idea came to me. When this vision subsided, I opened my eyes and realized that I was covered in spider webs:


Spider sense is when spiders can sense another dimension of reality. In my meditation, I came to feel entwined with spiders, understanding that they can see human synapses fire like little bolts of lightning. These arachnids can sense energy running down your body, from your brain to your hand, carrying with them a message of pure energy.


Perhaps you find yourself in a situation where your brain is telling you that you need to smash and kill a spider on your leg—but instantly—the spider senses that rush of energy barreling down at them, as it is still flowing to your brain. Amazingly, the spider has the ability and time to move out of the way.


This situation is similar to a human seeing a tornado, furiously hurdling toward him, making a death or life situation, causing that person to flee. Spider sense dwells in a dimension we can comprehend. But it is sure fun to contemplate; it is one of the many dimensions that make up our reality.


Paul Westman


Note: Paul Westman is a leader of men and an international man of mystery. He is no stranger to exotic locations and death defying feats. He writes only when compelled, during his quest to find universal truth.


Costa Rica Breaks its own Renewable Energy Record

Monday, September 7th, 2015

costa rica

In August Costa Rica set a world record by fulfilling all of its energy needs using sustainable resources for 94 consecutive days. This breaks the old record of 75 days, also set by Costa Rica, earlier this year.  The record stint was interrupted by a dwindling water supply which has been affected by a recent drought. This has forced the government to revert to thermal energy plants, a source that is non-renewable. Even though the stretch of completely renewable energy ended, Costa Rica is showing the world that large-scale use of renewable energy is possible.


How is it possible? The Central American nation receives heavy rainfall that is used to create hydropower, which provides about three-quarters of the country’s energy.  Hydroelectric power is supplemented by wind and geothermal sources, which make up the majority of the balance with a miniscule amount of energy coming from solar power.


Although, Costa Rica has shown the world that a future based upon renewable energy is here, critics are quick to point out that the particulars of Costa Rica’s climate allow the nation to produce enough energy to thrive. Moreover, if their unique capabilities are contrasted with large countries, like the United States, that don’t have the particular climate that Costa Rica has, the larger nation cannot produce renewable resources on a big enough scale to fulfill the energy needs of their populations. This is also a matter of infrastructure where it is much easier to service a small nation of about five million people rather than a vast expanse like the United States with over 300 million citizens.


However, all things considered, what Costa Rica is doing is a step in the right direction. We no longer have to imagine a world where nations can get the entirety of their energy from renewable resources. The speculation of the plausibility of fulfilling the needs of an entire nation with renewable energy has ended.



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