Freshest By… Last Week?

Everyone has standards. When it comes to deciding on the best, people have different opinions. This is natural.

When it comes to food labels, here in China it seems no different. "Best by" and "Freshest by" dates are only subjective, right? We have taken to carefully watching this information before buying anything at all anymore. In our experience, those dates really do make a difference! There’s only so many boxes of stale cookies and cereal that one can choke down before learning to read these numbers.

But sometimes, even the dates can bring false assurance. Last week JM walked to the corner store for some fresh milk. Picking up a carton, it felt strangely warm, already well at room temperature. He noticed the dairy refrigerator was turned off.

"Why isn’t this on?" The answer from the grocer on duty: "It’s a cold day outside."

Granted, it was a really cold day, as snow flurries were drifting around. Also, the store’s front door was wide open. But neither of these offset the heat from the working radiator. Apparently thinking the better of it, the clerk walked back and turned on the fridge.

Hmm.. better pass on that carton after all.

You can always read the package, but don’t count on it being the whole story. Not in a country where saving everything possible, even a few watts of daytime fridge electricity, is a cultural norm.

It can get even trickier. The last bag of pasta we bought from a respectable import store looked fine at first glance. Arriving home, we noticed some strange holes on the sides. Sure enough, opening it further, there was a small larvae cocoon, revealing the author of the holes in the bag, having feasted on some of Italy’s finest semolina.

But the reason it escaped us at the store was that someone had already noticed the holes- and put scotch tape over them to hide the fact!

High cooking temperatures correct a lot of wrongs. So pass the chow mien and don’t think too hard about where those noodles and veggies were before they plopped in your bowl!


2 Responses to “Freshest By… Last Week?”

  1. 1 Amy March 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    She is absolutely gorgeous! Another job well done John Michael and Liz!! 🙂 She seems like a lot of fun too! I continue to live vicariously through your blog and love reading it! I pray for you all often!

    Amy Alvarado Bender

  2. 2 Missy March 8, 2010 at 9:10 am

    ARGH!!! This happened to us at Times with pancake mix. I hauled it all the way home, opened the box and the ENTIRE SACK from filled with bugs. I was horrified but not so horrified that I didn’t haul it back downtown a few days later, whip it out and demand a refund. There were other people shopping and as soon as I pulled the buggie bag out of the box and they snatched it from my hands and hid it under the counter.

    Now the ladies let me open the boxes before I take them home!

    Meal soon?

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