The Kind Of Work I LikePosted: February 3, 2016
I have work, if you can call writing a column every month for Durham Magazine work. I started at the magazine on it’s second issue which makes me the second longest employee after famed photographer, Briana Brough. I am not someone that goes to work. In fact I have not even been to our most recent offices and I think they moved a year ago. I prefer to meet my editor or publisher out and about in Durham, we are Durham Magazine after all. I also “work” on things for the Food Bank, but that is a labor of love.
Today I had the pleasure of combining my two kinds of work in one. The whole Durham Magazine staff went to volunteer at the Durham branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. We gathered in the “Dana Lange volunteer center” which was named in my honor after I finished chairing the board of the Food Bank. It is the thing I am most proud of, after my daughter and my friends get to make fun of my photo on the wall while they sort food.
My magazine compatriots and I had the pleasure of sorting salvaged food; that is food donated by grocery stores because they can’t sell it for one reason or another. As we inspected boxes and cans to ensure they were still safe for people to eat their contents, the subject of expired food came up — You know the dates on food that say, “sell by” or “best by”. A couple of people asked if we should throw away food that had passed it’s date. Absolutely not.
“Sell by” or “best by” dates are suggestions that the product will stay absolutely the same way during that period. After than date there is a small chance it might change color, texture, taste or some thing else and ever so slight. Most packaged foods can last long and I mean a long time after their date. If you have some “expired” packaged food the best way to tell if it is good is to smell it. Mustard that smells like mustard is fine. If something has changed color dramatically don’t eat it. But something like dried pasta that has no smell and is pasta color can last a very long time.
Fresh food is different, but the same smell and color tests are true. You can put an apple in the fridge and keep if for a few weeks, then after a while it starts to break down and change texture, that’s when you throw it away. Eggs are one thing that will last a really long time past the expiration date as long as they have been kept cold and don’t have any cracks.
If you have a person in your house who likes to throw pantry items away just because they have reached their expiration date please consider giving them to a food bank rather than filling up the landfill. Many hungry people know the truth about those dates and are happy to have it rather than not eating.
I want to thank my friends at Durham Magazine for spending their morning sorting food. Volunteers are the life blood of the Food Bank. As a whole sorting food is fun–It is good exercise, with great music for a wonderful cause. Many hungry people are grateful and that is the kind of work that makes my heart happy.