I grew up post-war Britain and rationing did not end until 4 years after I was born. I absorbed a sense of food's value, learned not to waste it and also love to cook.
This combination of factors is my excuse for the fact that we have two fridges in our home--both usually packed to the gills with left overs from dinners I have cooked for family or friends.
Since I work full time, cleaning out both fridges usually only happens at crisis point, when food items begin to ambush unsuspecting people when the door is opened.
At this busy time of the year, fridge cleaning slides more than usual, but rose to the top of my To Do list on a recent Saturday morning when I could stand the food commando raids no longer.
This was just after I told a friend that there was some applesauce in the fridge that would go with the pork we were having for lunch and she asked, "Belinda did you want to serve this?" when she opened it.
Let's just say, it must have passed its "best before" date long ago in the distant past. By the time she opened the jar it had the look of a science experiment gone horrifically wrong.
So as I emptied my fridge on the day of the massive clean out, I paid special attention to the bottled salad dressings and other sauces in jars, with "best before" dates. I have been shocked before to find that the "best before" date was years ago. How time flies in a fridge!
And this brings me to my point. What exactly does "best before" mean?
I mean it is so open to interpretation for someone like me who tends to push the boundaries of almost everything.
Just because something was "best" before a certain day, does not mean that it is inedible the next day, surely?
And therein lies my dilemma. What is a thrifty soul, who likes to use everything up to do?
My brother Rob is the exact opposite and throws food away with abandon at the slightest hint of being "off." He has helped me, but not enough, obviously.
So I am proposing that the Powers that Be in the food regulation world, get serious. People like me don't need the euphemistic suggestion of "best before."
We need the dire warning of "ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE EATEN AFTER," dates--perhaps with the addition of a skull and crossbones.
Come on, how about it?