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Some people, myself included, contend that "best by" dates are a part of the food industry's attempt to get us to consume more than we need—inevitably, those dates pass, either in the store or at home, and food gets thrown out. And more importantly to the food makers, at least, has to be replaced on the shelves.
I'm not suggesting that all of you get your food from the trash—I know digging in dumpsters isn't for everyone. But in the same way that we can turn our attention to the plight of farm animals, so obvious in its brutality, and the excesses of meat production, which are exponentially more wasteful than feeding ourselves needs to be, I hope we can turn and look at the end results of our food system, the bags we walk by every night on our sidewalks, the dumpsters that are filled and emptied, and filled again, without our ever noticing what's going into them.
The most damaging parts of our quest for food, for nourishment, are the most hidden. Most of us will never see the inside of a slaughter house, or a chicken shed containing 100,000 chickens under one roof, because there are a lot of people who know that if we did we could hardly believe how awful it is, and we might actually change our behavior as a result. Most of us have never opened a heavy black plastic bag outside a grocery store, to find 50 pounds of raw meat, packaged and discarded not because its bad, but because it's a little discolored, or the new shipment came in today, and there just isn't room on the shelves.
But these things exist, and we can face up to them, and in confronting them, by changing our behavior, and our habits—from not wasting food at home, to lobbying our schools to feed our children better, and waste less, we can work for a better food system, a smaller food system, one that's gentler on us, and on the planet.