Free food, waste not, want not!
I you ever found out exactly how much food is wasted each year it would make you feel sick that there are people that go hungry and even starve to death. Why does this even happen in this day and age? Well, because of political correctness gone mad, and although people think they have choice, they do not.
It is fabulous to know that you are going to get a certain level of quality to the food you buy, but how many of us would be willing to pay less if we knew the food was slightly out of date but still edible? Well tough, because if food has a "use by date" instead of a " best before date" on it, the law tells the supplier that they legally can not sell it to you, not even for a penny.
Currently, the law makes it so that people in the UK are throwing away £12 billion worth of food that is out of date, every year. Some of it that could still be eaten quite safely. This seems criminal to me, when so many people are struggling to manage debt and spend less of their income.
Picture is of a supermarket skip with discarded food that is still edible but out of date.
The difference between " Use by date" and " best before date" is that one is used for food that will have bacteria levels that start to increase after a certain date. These kinds of foods will be your dairy foods, foods with less preserves in them and fresh foods. The other is used as a guidance for quality and by no means does the date mean the food is not safe to eat, but just that the quality can not be promised to be at its peak. Well, if you are like me and could not really care if a scientist can promise you the quality, because nature gave you taste buds for that, then you will love to know where you can get free food from.
Where to find free food
Mother nature provides us with free food, but people forget that there is an abundance of food in hedgerows and the wild that are there for everyone. Some edible food that nature gives us are,
Blackberries, Elderberries, Damson plums, Elder flower, Mint, Vegetables, Nettles,Black and Red Currants, Mushrooms and Hazelnuts. Rose hips, Sloes, Raspberries, Chestnuts.
There are more than the above but you can easily identify the ones I have mentioned, and there will be different ones depending on where you are looking, as I am in the UK, that is where I used for my example of free foods.
Remember that we were foragers before we were farmers, so nature has provided for us before, and nature never stopped giving us free food, we just stopped looking.
Rescue free food from being wasted
As already mentioned, you can see that food is quite edible and yet wasted, but where does it go? Well, if supermarkets can not get rid of it on the last day they are legally allowed to sell it, they literally just toss it in the dumpster. Freegans already live a total life style where they try and rescue as much of this food as possible, and try and pay for as little food as they can. Whilst I would not want to do my weekly shopping like this, I really really want to go and have a good rummage in one of those supermarket dumpsters just to see what I can come out with. I doubt very much that a box of cereal would be bad to eat a day or too past sell by date. I actually find this very wrong of the law and supermarkets. They could even donate it to soup kitchens for the homeless, they can't state it is all unfit for consumption as there are places that concentrate on selling food that is past its "best before date", I myself have ordered stock that is just out of its " best before date" and there is never anything wrong with them.
How to get cheap food
Well, we have looked at where to get free food, but getting cheap food is just as good and more accessible to more of us. There are a lot of coupon sites available on line, where you can either print of a coupon, or you can get an online code to copy and paste on to the website you are shopping for. You can also look in all your local newspapers and magazines for coupons. Some people actually get to have their whole grocery shop for less than a few dollars, even though they have full trolleys, it is called Extreme couponing.
There are also websites that specialize in out of date grocery stock and you can get real bargains. Just remember that even though the food is past its "best before date" does not mean it does not taste nice or isn't safe, it is that the standard that the food standards agency expect can not be promised to consumers. Use your common sense, if a food is well preserved in high sugar, such as fruit in syrup or pickled then it is preserved well enough, and if you were preserving that at home, you would not be putting an expiry date on them, but checking for change of flavours. I really would not miss out on cheap food because of what some generalised rules state, as food wasn't naturally made to have a stamp on it.
Food Bargains is a website that sells out of date stock to the UK population and also another UK site for cheap food that is past its "best before date" is Approved foods. These places charge around £5 for delivery but you more than make that back in the bargains that you can fill your cupboards up with. I myself bought Del Monte 1kg jar of Pear, Peach and Pineapples in syrup and made a large family crumble with them, then froze it.
This kind of " out of date or short date" stores are becoming ever so popular, a quick local search in your area will bring up the most commonly used ones for where you live. You will even find these stores in your local area.