Boomers May Be Good Past Their Expiration Date

Posted on November 13, 2013

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For those of you who make food a part of your daily diet, you will be happy to know that expiration dates are, in effect, mere suggestions based on decades-old guesses of when food might be the freshest (not safest). The truth is that most products are perfectly fine beyond their sell-by dates. A new study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School recommends eliminating sell-by dates on food because they are so misleading.

If you look at packaging, most of it doesn’t use the word “expiration” at all. Instead, you’ll see “sell by,” “enjoy by,” “best by,” and “use by.” That is a far cry from “expires by.” The bottom line is that, because of these suggestions, we end up wasting a lot of food in this country, something like 10-25%. Life in the Boomer Lane has an unnamed family member who tosses products before even these sell-by dates occur, as though the days leading up to the sell-by are in some scary grey area of Russian roulette.

Now Husband, a devotee of scooping the mold out of yogurt, has always been on the cutting edge of food consumption. He delights in closing his eyes, taking a swallow of three-day-old fish and declaring, “Ooh, that was nasty,” then spearing his next piece. LBL thinks one of his past lives must have been a seaman on a long voyage to deliver rancid cod to market.

Since this blog is titled “Life in the Boomer Lane” and not “Life in the Rancid Fish Lane, let us now attempt to make a correlation between extending the useful life of food and doing the same with older boomers.

Older boomers are not rancid fish. But many of us get sucked into the labels of “sell by,” “use by,” “enjoy by,” and “best by.” We think we are too old, too wilted, too depleted in energy to look at like in the same way we did when we were fresh on the supermarket shelves. LBL gets tired of hearing some older boomers say “I’m not what I used to be.” In the case of the people she knows well, her answer is usually “Thank goodness.”

We are aging (thank goodness) and body parts are wearing out. It’s getting harder and harder to find an older boomer who hasn’t had knee or hip replacement or who isn’t considering it, or who isn’t trying other stop-gap measures to hopefully avoid it, or who isn’t just having some vague unidentifiable joint pain without really thinking about it. Menus have become indecipherable without the aid of glasses. Running may have been replaced with walking, high impact gym activity with low impact. Sky high heels may have been replaced with shoes that are a bit more foot-friendly.

We will always be up against popular media, who arbitrarily place sell-by, best-by, enjoy-by, and enjoy-by labels on us. They do so by not only portraying younger people who look nothing like us, but by now portraying younger people who look nothing like actual younger people. Photoshop has turned everyone in some kind of undernourished and overly long-necked and long-legged ideal of humanity. That’s the reality. And LBL isn’t going to add her rant to the mix, here. Enough has been said about that, and too little has been done.

LBL’s advice to those boomers who think they are too old, too tired, too whatever is to continue to set high goals. Just don’t try to jump up to them. Don’t see yourself as a worn out version of a younger person. See yourself as a great example of whatever age you are. Be an overly ripe banana and turn yourself into banana bread. You can’t do that with a young banana, can you?

When you are finished reading this, be daring and eat something beyond its sell-by, best-by, use-by, or enjoy-by date. Enjoy it and remind yourself of who you are, as well. And, if it’s pastry, save a piece for LBL.  If it’s fish, don’t eat it.  Send it to Now Husband.

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Posted in: aging, boomers, food