Lingo Yarns May 12, 2004 

Expiration dates are a feared thing in our household. One nanosecond past the listed expiration date on milk, food, drinks, medicine—anything with a date on it—is thrown away. I don't necessarily agree with the policy. I choose my battles and this isn't one of them. It's not a lauging matter but I joke about it quite a bit.

This morning I was gathering ingredients for the spawns' lunches and found some small remnant bags of bread. I didn't bother checking the expiration date, but I inspected the bread for signs of mold or discoloration and found none. It smelled alright. I would have eaten it myself. To make a couple sandwiches you had to creatively use a few heels. I figure the kids will eat what they get, otherwise they'll go hungry, but certainly won't starve. While in the shower I overheard the discussion between the others in the house that my bread certainly wouldn't do. Not even past the expiration date, the last few pieces of bread in the bag now qualified for being too "old" to eat. Because they were the last?

I don't agree with most parents' policies of catering to the spawn's tastes by cutting crust off and making seperate meals or dishes so that they will eat it. Giving kids choices between two kinds of food—an exciting, enriching and tasteful dish or a bland, plain and "safe" one—children will inevitably choose the bland one. I believe that children shouldn't be given too many choices. As the girl-spawn said one day after school, "You get what you get and don't throw a fit."

It's a parent's job to expand the horizons of their spawn. Our spawn eat sushi, frogs legs, salsa and salad. Why? Because they didn't have a choice the first time we put it in front of them. Nine out of 10 times they'll grimace, but later agree that it tastes good.

I did have one bad experience in my college days with some brautwurst that was a week or so beyond the expiration date. I should have been more wary of the strange fur growing on the wurst before I grilled it. Needless to say, now with meat, I won't let it go more than a few days past the listed date, especially if it has things growing on it. If it were up to me, I'd use my nose, eyes and judgment to determine if something has gone "bad," not an arbitrary date. Over time, judgment will adjust to play it on the safer side, but in the meantime, what doesn't kill you will make you tougher.

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