Sunday, July 18, 2010

Part I: The Pantry Project

My parents' pantry has been a source of aggravation since I took my first food safety course in the first semester of culinary school. I have taken the California food handler's exam three times, and scored 92, 100, and 98. Once I saw the pantry with a trained eye, I immediately understood why my parents were often ill.

The first time I cleaned out the pantry, I found items so old they were purchased before bar codes became the standard. This was in 2001. I threw out baking soda after realizing the "serial number" on it was really an expiration date in 1988.

Every three years or so (most canned food is stamped three years from date of packaging), I'd do another purge. I've since found two cans swollen with botulism and a bag of dried beans 15 years old that either I missed before or my mom put it back. The amount of food in the trash was appalling and wasteful.

When my mom died in May, my dad said he was unlikely to use anything in the pantry, and I could help myself. Very little of it could be donated. Either a package was opened, had no expiration date, or was slightly past it. So, I have made it a mission to use all the odd items in the pantry.

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