28 September 2010

It's Just... an Expiration Date!

Hi everyone!

This is one of those random posts Edi mentioned last week.

So. It all went down yesterday, when I made a quick stop at a gas station - okay, before you chastise me for stopping by a gas station when I crave cereals late at night, I was in a hurry. I picked up the cereals shown in the picture (after passing ham and cheese sandwiches; the ham was grey, mind you), headed to the register and asked the vendor: "Could you tell me what the expiration date is, please?" *Smile of a damsel in distress*

The vendor scratched his head. *Embarrassed smile*
I understood. I had the same reaction he did a minute earlier in the aisle. Can you make sense of the inscription below?

The inscription reads:

05237 C 1
MR 1606 23:36

Can someone make sense of it? I certainly can't.

According to the vendor, 1606 stands when for the product was made/packaged. I guess at 11:36 PM. What about 1606? January 6, 2006? *head scratching*

As for when the product expires, he had no clue. Curious as always I took it home nevertheless, thinking, "Kellogg's, darling, please have mercy on your customers. Don't let them poison themselves."

Pour some milk. Powdered sugar (sweet tooth phase). First spoon.

Not good. At all.

If someone can decipher the code on these bowls, please chip in. I'm adding a heartfelt plea to all food makers out there using the same coded language to let us in the secret: If not already, make the expiration date more accessible on your products. Customers first? Pretty please.

Note: I'm sad to report I've seen expired products (candies, chocolate, on sale... at another gas station. Guess who scratched her head?)

22 September 2010


If you go back to my very first post on the blog, you'll find a lot of good, robust energy and the foundation of a supportive community. Among the comments on that post, you'll find Nathalie speaking about her need for this blog. Over the past few months, Nathalie has made several attempts to get me back to blogging and a few weeks ago she asked once more when I was going to get back to it and how she could help. Well, I decided that the best she could do to help was to join me here on this blog. Nathalie will be posting here on Thursdays and I'll be posting on Mondays. Look for us to pop up on other days from time to time, but we will be here on Mondays and Thursdays!

If you haven't been following Nathalie on her blog, Multiculturalism Rocks! I'm going to give you the opportunity to get to know here a little better through the following interview.

Nathalie, what foods do you remember from your childhood?
So many. Cameroon is very fertile and the country has an abundance and variety of food. I have fond memories of mangoes. There are unlike the ones you see in the market: There ares small (fit in a child's hand), juicy and tasty. My mom used to make delicious mango jam with them. I wish America would be introduced to them. Fruit lovers are really missing on something.

Papaya, especially the "solo" kind. I remember a poem from school about. The seeds are super easy to use (my first tree).

We eat lots of grilled fish and chicken, grilled peanuts, grilled plantains, grilled "Sa", a type of sour plum. I'm hungry!

Why did you decide to include food and nutrition in your studies?
That actually came later in my life. I grew up wanting to become a humanitarian physician. I wanted to work with Doctors without Borders ever since I was eight years old. There are lots of anecdotes related to that, but to make a long story short I miserably failed my first year of medical school in France. Right after that experience, nutrition caught my interest and made sense to me. 

    I've seen things in Africa that impacted me growing up. Studying nutrition allows me to implement a type of preventive medicine where it is needed, here and abroad. The way we eat affects us more than we think. It affects how we work, affects our mood, and of course affects our health. 

One cannot work on world and domestic hunger without also addressing poverty (economics) and illiteracy. These three issues are intertwined.

    I like to think that everything happens for a reason, and though my dream to work as a doctor was crushed, today I am so grateful that I failed. My focus in nutrition is world and domestic hunger. My approach to solving world hunger: Don't go around dumping genetically modified food on Third World villagers (and of course, don't use them as guinea pigs for your research). Learn the culture. Suggest a solution that incorporates the culture, the way people live, the local crops, too. That will be a long term solution. I would have more to say about that but this answer is already very long...

   What I wrote above is also the reason why I study cultural anthropology as an undergrad; however my grad studies will be solely focused on nutrition.  

If you could open a food store or restaurant what would it look, sound, smell and feel like?    What an interesting question. Do you read my mind? :)

    One can dream, right? I dream to one day open one or several multi-ethnic restaurants. I would love the atmosphere to be like what I experienced in Cameroon and in some of the places I traveled to: warm, friendly, with a display of ethnic art as a homage to the variety of cultures our planet is graced with. The place will be colorful, cheerful and serve ethnic comfort food.

Smell: A symphony of spices in a vegetarian stew. 

Sound: Eclectic. Would probably go for musical instruments that few know of.

 I have more ideas, but you would have to come to the restaurant to experience it yourself. :-)

You won't let me let this blog die! What compels you with regard to food and nutrition?
Edi, I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when you started this blog! It is so needed in my opinion. We're so busy with life that we don't pay attention to what we eat anymore, to what's in our plate, and to what chemical corporations put in the food we buy. I like that you challenge us. Your post are always thought-provoking and informative. I really admire that you started it, despite your already busy schedule. I applaud that. 

   I'm sorry that until now I wasn't able to comment more on your posts, due to my online absence during the summer. We need your blog. It is timely; you can see it with the reforms that the administration is trying to implement in the food industry, in school and just overall in our society. For example, restaurants with more than five outlets will now have the obligation to add a nutrition charts to their menu.

Informed people make informed decisions. I've witnessed that during my internships as a dietetic student abroad. I can't let it go of your blog. It's a voice that will be missed if you silence it. :) 

Natalie, what's your favorite meal these days?Crêpes! As a matter of fact, I'm on my way to make some. Come on over! ;-)

 Welcome aboard, Nathalie!!