Are expired foods your future diet?

Published 10:24 am Friday, March 11, 2016

by Danny Tyree

I really should be prejudiced against this week’s topic, but I’m not.

Back when I was around 11 years old, I marched into the local Kuhn’s Variety Store with my hard-earned coins and proudly purchased a box of popcorn-based Fiddle Faddle. When I got home and crammed a handful into my mouth, I soon discovered a ragtag band of weevils doing some dirty dancing on my tongue.

To this day, I can still swear I heard a tiny voice taunting me as I spit the snack out, “Nobody puts Baby in a wastebasket!”

In spite of that childhood trauma, I was encouraged recently when CBS News and National Public Radio reported on WeFood, a nonprofit business in Copenhagen, Denmark selling food with past-due sell-by dates and damaged packaging for as much as half-off the price posted at regular stores. WeFood seeks to target both low-income consumers and environmentally conscious shoppers.

WeFood is getting off to a good start, but many people worldwide still have a misunderstanding of “sell by” dates. The dates indicate when the product is at its peak, but they can be edible and nutritious much longer. It’s not like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. If it were, Disney would already have trademarked the process and given us “Country Botulism Jamboree” rides and “High School Cafeteria Musical: Mystery Meat’s Last Legs” TV movies.

Developments such as WeFood, Boston’s Daily Table membership-only supermarket and the Rockefeller Foundation’s $130 million YieldWise initiative should get us all fired up to fight food waste and feed the world’s undernourished. (According to the United Nations, one-third of all food produced around the world for human consumption is lost or wasted, even as nearly one billion people worldwide lack enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.)

We Americans are way too finicky about what we eat. I wouldn’t be surprised if a book club met to discuss “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and during snacktime someone lamented, “We’ve had to eat leftovers TWICE this month. Can you imagine anything worse?”

Our mood swings make us keep cramming food farther and farther back into the recesses of the refrigerator. The fridge sometimes gets so bad that there’s a fight over the stuff growing in there and how many delegates it’s entitled to.

We really need to get over our “Silly rabbit, Trix are for landfills” mentality and crack down on the wasteful morons who chuckle, “Guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach.” Let’s have them saying, “Guess your boot was bigger than my backside. Ouch!”

Among the worst offenders are the mothers who take their youngsters to the head of the line at church socials or family reunions and pile their plate with stuff they’ll never eat. Ah, the miracle of mommas: they can feed the two with 5,000 loaves and fishes.

Perhaps more restaurants and supermarkets can be convinced to overcome the logistical problems and get excess food to homeless shelters and food banks.

Then they can re-fit their old techniques to dealing with politicians who have gone way past their shelf life.

“Hey, somebody threw me in a dumpster and poured bleach on me! But, speaking as someone who has run four unsuccessful campaigns for dog catcher, I demand to share my two cents worth with the candidates of 2020. Ow, it burns!”

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.