Monday, February 13, 2012

Poisonous Milk

B1 had a total melt down the other morning as the only milk we had for breakfast had a used by date of the previous day. Mr Bee and I had used this milk in our morning coffee, B2 and B3 had been served this milk on their breakfast and clearly we were all still alive. When this was pointed out to B1 it had no effect at all. He was probably waiting for us all to drop at any moment.

I tried to reason with B1 but there was nothing that could be said that would change his mind and this reasonably small issue was turning into World War III when it shouldn't. So Mr Bee went to the shop and bought some 'fresh' milk for B1 so he would not be poisoned during breakfast.

Now more than a week later I have come across this Vimeo post by Daniel Klein, The Perennial Plate Episode 84: Dumpster Diver. I found it on the blog 'The Greening of Gavin' (there is a link on my side bar).

I asked B1 to sit down and watch this with me. I explained about used by dates and how supermarkets use them for two reasons 1. so they are not sued for selling 'off' food that may make someone ill and 2. the modern consumer is pre-programmed to throw food away when it is past the 'used by date' and then be forced to purchase a replacement.. The majority would not even bother to check to see if the food is still OK. I am a clean freak when it comes to cooking areas but when it comes to used by dates I have always used my own judgement; can dried pasta really go off?

This movie raises some interesting questions about the culture of the supermarket; that it is better to throw things away than have a table by the back door where hungry people could help themselves. I am positive there are a string of reasons why they are unable to do this and common sense is not among them.

While we were watching it B1 asked me if what they were doing was illegal i.e. the dumpster diving. Now I am sure the law differs from state to state in America but I seem to remember seeing a documentary, some time ago, in Australia where people were doing something very similar. I know at the time they made that documentary, it was illegal, in Australia.

To take the point a step further I talked about my Nan and my Mum and that the milk they would have drunk when they were his age did not have a used by date, in fact it was delivered in glass bottles that, when empty, were collected by the milkman, taken back to the dairy and washed ready for the next day's milk.

By the end of viewing this and discussing it when I asked B1 if he would now drink out of date milk after he had used his sense of smell and sight to decide whether it was safe to drink he said 'Yeah.......probably.' Ah, such is the power of the pre-teen.

He then asked, in a more concerned voice, 'We aren't going to do that are we Mum.' I told him no and this is the truth as we are fortunate enough not to have to but in today's uncertain future who knows what tomorrow will bring.

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