Thursday, February 16, 2017

How long has that food been sitting on the store shelf?

I read with some amusement that there were changes being planned with respect to the sell-by dates on food items.  The changes are being done to allow people to understand it's safe to eat stale food; i.e. don't discard something just because it's past the sell-by date.   Is this a sign of society advancing?

Why aren't manufacturers required to put the date packed on such items?  That would give the consumer immediate information about how long the food has been sitting around.  The practice of putting the date packed is actually quite common in India and it's disappointing that it is not used in the US.

Some products do actually have the packed date encoded, e.g. Manna bread, and it is not uncommon to find product sitting in the frozen section for 9+ months.  I don't care if that's within what the company considers acceptable, it just seems too long.  With all the technology for supply chain management, there should not be a need to have food sitting on shelves that long.

And then I've come across some products sold in the frozen section that have neither a packed date nor a sell-by date, e.g. Berlin Bakery bread.  This one is scary because now we have no idea how long the product has been sitting in freezers at the distributor and then the store.

Some products go above and beyond give you even more information.  Bariani olive oil, for instance, encodes the harvest date and packed date.

I typically pay attention to these dates when buying food products.  Several times I have come across products on the store shelf that are past their use-by date, so even though store staff are supposed to be checking for this kind of stuff, they probably don't.  In this day and age with smart everything, there should be some way to alert store staff that they have stale stuff sitting on their shelves.

The lack of availability of a sell-by date on items sold in bulk bins usually keeps me away from those.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why do people prefer SUVs?

I don't like SUVs and pickup trucks.  They are too high and if one is in a car behind an SUV, then one's ability to look ahead for road signs, traffic, and curves in the road is severely compromised.  They also tend to be heavier, thus exhibiting poorer braking and handling in emergencies, and also consume more gas than a car.  SUVs are supposedly built to be driven off road, but most of them will never actually be taken off road.  So I started to ask myself the question as to why people prefer SUVs?

One day, I had sort of an epiphany--since the roads are so bad, so ridden with potholes and undulations, even a trip to the neighborhood grocery store feels like an off road experience.  Of course, I happen to live in CA which is a state with one of the worst road conditions.  Looking at the data in the link, I shudder with the thought of what it's like to drive in Washington DC which is reported as having 91% of its roads in poor condition.  Also, as mentioned in the article, these bad roads end up costing drivers hundreds of dollars in repairs for damaged tires, rims, and suspensions.

SUVs with their larger wheels and tires are able to better weather the pothole ridden roads, so perhaps it makes sense that people prefer them.  Their owners probably find the ride a lot more comfortable relative to a car.

The condition of the roads makes me wonder where the tax monies are going.  Around where I live, the average time between a road being repaved/repaired and new potholes showing up is no more than a few months.  It's 2017--surely the technology exists to build longer lasting roads.