The Dates Game
Another area with little to no regulation, yet alone standardization are the ‘Use by’ and ‘Sell By’ dates. Except for baby formula and food, product expiration dates are not required by Federal regulations (some states, however, have their own rules requiring product dating). What is even more shocking is that according to Dr. Oz, “many foods come with a use-by date established by the manufacturer, which cannot be changed. However you may also notice a use-by date added on by the retailer on foods that they process and package.” And guess what? Retailers are allowed to change that date as many times as they’d like until the product sells!
- The “Best if Used By” date is more of a suggestion than a safety issue—the food will taste best if eaten by the date on the label, but won’t necessarily be unsafe if eaten after that.
- The “Sell-By” date generally means that that is how long the store should display it.
If all of this sounds fishy, keep in mind that the food industry is designed to move massive amounts of food in order to make a profit, so retailers will continue selling their products until they look green and moldy. In many cases, the only way to tell whether a use-by date was placed by the manufacturer or the supermarket itself is to ask your grocer. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but your health is worth it.
Smells, Sights and Cooties – oh my!
Another interesting tidbit is that there are no restrictions on who can fumble through all the products and produce on the shelves. So not only are you taking home produce that’s been handled by other customers, it was put out there by store employees, the person who unpacked the box and in some cases even the person who picked it. There’s no telling who has touched the produce or where their hands have been. So, if you need a snack and opt for something quick out of the produce department, be certain you wash it thoroughly—even if it’s organic. Remember that these ‘cootie’ conditions apply to the shopping carts as well as all the other products in jars, jugs, cans and other transferable surfaces.
According to studies done by Gerba and his colleagues at University of Arizona, shopping carts had more bacteria than other surfaces they tested—even more than escalators, public phones and public bathrooms. "These bacteria may be coming from raw foods or from children who sit in the carts," says Chuck Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at University of Arizona. "Just think about the fact that a few minutes ago, some kid's bottom was where you are now putting your broccoli." To avoid picking up nasty bacteria, Gerba recommends using sanitizing wipes to clean off cart handles and seats, and to wash your hands after you finish shopping.
Kinda explains those ‘wet wipes’ you see scattered throughout the store doesn’t it!
The Non-grocery Product Game
Non-grocery convenience items such as medicine, motor oil, office supplies and light bulbs are often over priced compared to other department stores (like Walmart, Kmat or Target). We pay for not having to go to another store while we ‘run in for some milk’.
Many supermarkets now have ATM Machines and most supermarkets also let you pay for your order using ATM cards. What a lot of people still do not know is that instead of paying the fee for withdrawing money from your bank account using the ATM you can simply purchase something from the store, use your debit card to purchase it and ask for additional cash back.
Ok we have covered the more common ‘games’ that supermarkets play so now it is time to check on government and industry safety standards; the next installment will be on the Bureaucratic Maze Game.
Until then think about this time of year ... we have made it past the Mayan Calendar and the Winter Soltice and are on the downhill slide into spring and re-birth, as well as a spiritual time of year too. December is filled with celebrations around the world. Like:
Hanukkah, which is the Hebrew word for dedication, honors the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. After their victory, the Maccabees, sons of the family that led the revolt, entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the service of their God. When the Maccabees entered the temple, they found only enough lamp oil to last one night, but the oil somehow managed to burn for the whole eight days it took to go in search for more oil. Therefore, Hanukkah is observed over eight days.
I already mentioned the Winter solstice. It's the shortest day of the year, because of the earth's tilt. The winter solstice is the solstice that occurs in winter. It is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year. In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.
Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth but in the 4th Century, Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the day of celebration. It's a holiday that's celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In recent times, Christmas has become a holiday that is largely commercial, with everyone eagerly anticipating the arrival of St. Nick, but for Christians around the world, Christmas is a special and holy time to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ.
The first Boxing Day is believed to have started in the Middle Ages. This is just a guess because the exact date isn't known. How Boxing Day started is a question as well. Some say it started with the giving of Christmas boxes, while others think it was named after the tradition of opening charity boxes placed in churches during the Christmas season. Either way, it's now known as one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
Kwanzaa; Although some people believe this holiday is a substitute for Christmas, it is not a religious holiday. It is celebrated every year on December 26th. Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit of the harvest" in Swahili, is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. It is based upon the celebration of seven principles or beliefs called the Nguzo Saba and was created by Ron Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African-American heritage.
And of course New Year's. The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23rd, although they had no written calendar. It wasn't until 153 BC that the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the beginning of the new year.
Whatever your spiritual or festive inclination, do take the time to value all that we do have, thank your Higher Power and get ready for spring with a smile on your face.
May the Creator bless you and yours always ;-}