Why This Family Ate Expired Food for a Year
Spoiler: they survived.
Scott Nash spent a year eating food that was past its expiration date and, spoiler alert, he survived to tell the tale.
For 12 months, Nash, the founder of MOM’s Organic Market, and his family ate things most people would have thrown away. Everything, including dairy, produce, meats, fish and packaged food, was fair game. Their goal, he tells WTOP, was to prove a point.
“Some stuff is damaged, and that’s legitimate, and some stuff really does go bad. But a lot, most of the food that gets discarded is due to these arbitrary and confusing dates,” Nash, a self-described “staunch environmentalist,” said.
He calls it “consumer anxiety disorder” over food safety caused by a system of ambiguous dates.
“They are very vague. What does ‘expire’ mean? There is ‘best by,’ there is ‘sell by,’ ‘best if used by.’ I just think that there is no consistency, and that it is creating confusion,” Nash continued.
On his blog, Scott's Compost Pile, the Maryland-resident chronicled his family’s adventure in expired eating. Together they survived quesadillas made with wheat tortillas more than a year after the suggested “best by” date and ground beef 15 days past its expiration date. While he didn’t spread his moldy butter on toast, he did use it for cooking—after scraping off the mold, of course. (Not that experts advise doing that, especially when it comes to moldy bread.)
“The Food Product Dating system for food (and non-edible goods) needs to be revised. Consistency in labeling (use one term for quality such as ‘best by’ or ‘for best quality, use by’ and another term for food safety such as ‘expires by’) would create clarity,” Nash wrote on his blog. “And these dates need to be set to match reality. Some items don’t need a date at all- like salt, canned goods, and baby wipes.”
The USDA estimates that each year between 30 and 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, which adds up to $165 billion in discarded food annually.
WATCH: Four Foods You Can Eat Past Their Expiration Dates
Nash told WTOP that he would like to see consumers become more conscious of how much food they’re wasting, to pay less attention to dates and use more common sense.
“I do all the cooking for my family, and if you come to dinner at my house, I guarantee you’ll be eating at least one thing that is past its date,” he said.