Thursday, August 9, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, August 9, 2012


It's been a few days since I posted anything, and that's by design.  The new job is going very well, but it does require a tremendous amount of "sitting in front of the computer" time at the moment as I get things set up on the system and read position papers.  So I am not doing much of that in the evenings.

Earlier this evening, those of you who follow my musings on Facebook noticed I posted a picture of the packaging of my dinner this evening - a Mountain House freeze dried chicken stew, to be exact.  The food's "best by" date expired five years ago this week; I made sure I mentioned that in my caption of the picture.

This prompted a few folks to ask why on earth would I eat expired foods, and do so as regularly as I do.  Since there seems to be some interest in this issue, I thought I would address it here.

Here are the four why questions I will try to answer:

  1. Why have storable foods?
  2. Why eat them if you have them on hand?
  3. Why eat them if they are past their expiration date?
  4. Why draw attention to the fact I am eating them past their expiration date?
Why have storable foods?

This is probably the most complex of the four questions, in the sense that I have to build a case to explain the necessity of having a supply of foods that can a) be stored at room temperature, b) for a long period of time, c) and prepared in less than optimal culinary settings. 

Rather than walk through all of the reasons why, let me do my best to give you a list of bullet points as food for thought:

  • You experience a power outage for several days due to severe weather or grid failure due to excessive demand.  How would you feed yourself and family for five days while you are waiting for the power to come back on?
  • Your primary bread winner loses their job, and savings are dwindling.  How would you feed your family if you couldn't afford to go to the grocery store?
  • We experience economic disruptions that cause bank holidays (Joe Biden raises that specter) or martial law due to a Hurricane Katrina or another financial emergency (Representative Brad Sherman commented on this possibility on the House floor during the height of the 2008 financial crisis; I can't make this stuff up!)
Most of you reading this have home owner's insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, car seats for your kids, first aid kits, a battery powered flashlight somewhere in your house, and maybe even a gun for protection.  Having storable foods is in essence an extension of that list.  It's an insurance policy against a number of perils.  It's nice to know you have it, even if you pray you never need to use it.

Why eat them if you have them on hand?

Do you test your smoke detectors?  Ever replace the batteries in them?  Do you visit with your insurance agent regularly to ensure you have the right coverages? (If you don't, take 15 minutes next week to do it.  It's that important.)

Eating the stored foods from time to time ensures that

  • You aren't buying and storing foods you don't like to eat.
  • Your foods haven't gone stale.
  • You are rotating your foods so that you can replace the ones you eat with fresher ones; accountants call this first in, first out, or FIFO.
  • You are taking inventory of what you have on hand and what you need to replace.
  • You know how to prepare them with minimal effort.
When you eat your stored foods from time to time, you are doing preventative maintenance on your storable food investment.  It's not enough to buy it, store it and forget it - you need to know what you have, if it's still good, and whether you can stand to eat it.

Why eat them if they are past their expiration date?

Why go to the moon?  Why add extra weight to the workout machine at the gym?  Why run a little further on your next jog?

You need to have confidence in your food supply.  You need to know that even if something is beyond an arbitrary date created by the manufacturer, it's still edible and has value to your family.  Eating older foods on occasion gives us the confidence in our storable food supply.  When things go tango uniform, you don't have to worry about foods that are out of date if you didn't rotate them quickly enough. 

The only way we learn these things is to push the envelope and be pioneers from time to time.

Why draw attention to the fact I am eating them past their expiration date?

Because if I didn't, you likely wouldn't be reading this.

I hope I'm wrong and that everything in the global economy is fine.  But there are a lot of smart people out there who think it's not.  We need to take steps - basic, within our budget and scope of what's sane kind of steps - to protect us from those risks.

No comments:

Post a Comment