Personally, I feel Alison's pain. I hate wasting food as well. AND I do think that, in many cases, those sell by dates ARE ridiculously short. Come on. Eggs last forever. And that guacamole isn't actually BAD, it's just oxidized. You can cut the mold off that piece of cheese and the rest of it should be fine. Ditto for that bread.
I think we are a little too paranoid about our food spoiling.
BUT, at a certain point, you have to let go and throw that rotten food out.
So what do you do?
Well, I, like Alison, have a compost bin. So at least I can take some comfort in knowing that my rotten food isn't going into the dumpster.
Composting is better than sending food to the landfill. But better still would be to reduce: reduce my food waste, reduce my food bought and produced.
First of all, we are a two person household. Which means that, frankly, a small tub of hummus can last two weeks and that's if I eat a good amount of hummus every day. Sometimes, I don't want to eat the SAME THING every day. But, I do love hummus, and I like having it around to put on my sandwiches, and to snack on with carrots.
Second of all, my boyfriend receives free lunch at work. So any leftovers get eaten by me. Who is one small person. The other day, my boyfriend came home, and we made some quick pasta with veggies that had been sitting in the fridge for a week. All part and parcel of my continual efforts to not waste. He proceeded to not eat his dinner because apparently he had eaten a few brownies at work. Of course this irritated me, because what is he, six?! Does he not get that eating a few brownies will spoil his appetite for dinner?
Now obviously, I would prefer that he eat pasta with veggies instead of brownies. However, from a food waste perspective, I kind of feel like either way food would have been wasted. Either there would have been left over brownie, because I suspect that his office is awash with dessert on a regular basis, or left over spaghetti. As it was, I ate his spaghetti the next day for lunch.
My point is this: not wasting food is hard. We should all learn to meal plan, eat leftovers, and cook a few recipes that essentially allow you to dump all leftovers in one big pot, but at the end of the day, some food may still go to waste. At those times, all we can do is compost, and give thanks that we are so fortunate as to live in a land of plentiful food. And yell at our boyfriend for eating too many brownies.