Family, this has me feeling some type of way.

For starters, “just a day or two old” is a wee bit dishonest, here. It ignores the fact that this stuff has been sitting on shelves for years long before it even came out to be sold. Almost all processed food is this way. If you’ve ever looked at the expiration date on processed food while still in the store, you’ll notice the expiration date is years into the future. To imply that this date, years into the future, is the one to which the food is still good… is unfairly inaccurate. It’s not that the food is “still good” to this date, this is just the date by which the manufacturer can estimate the food won’t kill you. There’s a huge difference between the two.

Woman buying groceries from expired food store

I’m looking at the woman who is making her case for why she shops there – “So what? It’s still edible!” – and, trust me, there’s no judgment. I know what it’s like to have limited funds and feel the need to focus on being belly-filled first and put other things like freshness aside as a luxury. But that, in my mind, is the problem – we’re apparently at a point in society where “freshness” is now a luxury. People are so focused on stretching their coins as far as possible, that now we have to forego everything we’ve learned about expiration dates and sell-by dates in order to adequately feed our families. I don’t know how that can make anyone feel anything other than sad, especially considering what Congress is doing to food stamps/SNAP in general.

There was little focus on the actual food, for some reason, merely the fact that people found this outrageous. Well, duh. But there were clips of produce in this store. Why? Is the produce rotting, too? Is the produce spotty and molding? Or is the produce fresh, and everything else is expired? What about meat? Is the meat actually what it’s supposed to be? One of my oldest stories is, in the middle of walking Mini-me and my nephew home one day, we stopped at a street market and picked up a few peaches for them to eat on the walk home. As my daughter bit into hers, it dissolved into a pale, frothy, unpleasant mush. The glory of peaches… ruined, for this child. The experience of watching this happen… ruined peaches for my nephew. Buying expired foods does that for children – you have to explain to them that, although this experience was disgusting, there’s always another peach! There’s always another store!

But what if you live in an area where these kinds of stores are the only stores you’ve got? What happens then? What happens when, after a lifetime of experiences of biting into rotten produce, you grow up into an adult that “hates vegetables” and “has a texture problem?”

In Melanie Warner’s book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, she opened the book with a story of how she kept a tub of guacamole for almost nine whole months, accidentally had a family member eat it who was still fine, and went on to research why. Aside from the fact that I cannot imagine eating anything that’s been in my fridge for over two months, let alone nine, I also can’t help but wonder what the nutrition is like for something that’s been sitting for so long.

It’s a long-known fact that processed food contains synthetic materials that account for the “nutrition” in them, with vitamins coming everywhere from sheep’s wool to a science lab to make up for what’s missing in processed food. Now, I’m curious – vitamin pills have expiration dates; do the expiration dates in processed food match up with the expiration dates of the vitamins and minerals inside?

And, lastly… all I keep thinking about is the stores in the hood that sell literally rotting food – not “good, but past the expiration date” but actually rotting produce:

rotted-tomatillos

rotting-grapefruit

…or merely hiding the rotting parts by strategically placing everything in cellophane and styrofoam, like I saw at an East New York, Brooklyn store I visited. There’s definite mold on those tomatoes. Mold. Mold that has accumulated from OTHER tomatoes that have rotted so severely that they’ve dissolved into piles of sticky goo.

I must ask, how do the prices at this store compare to stores like these, where everything is rotting away anyway, and it’s all still full price?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve bought produce that was soft around the edge before, but that’s because I believe many people are throwing their food away too fast, anyway. But. When

Would you shop there?