The Greek Diet: Let Them Eat Expired Food

The Greek Diet: Let Them Eat Expired Food

Well, if this doesn’t take the week-old stale cake! Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, of the caviar-and-champagne caste that runs Greece and has never missed a 5-star meal, says the answer to hunger in Greece, where two million people are out of work and about that many have no health care, is for them to buy expired food.

It may sound cruel and thoughtless and callous and cold and heartless – and it is – but for many that would be a step up from dumpster diving outside the restaurants and supermarkets of rich neighborhoods such as Kolonaki, where the ruling class lives, hoping to find some leftovers.

Imagine their surprise to find some Beluga caviar, only to throw it away, thinking it was cat food because they’d never come across such a luxury when they were just hoping to find some bread that wasn’t so moldy you could make penicillin out of it.

One of the problems with this idea is that you still need money to buy even expired food at cheaper prices, and the pay cuts, tax hikes, and slashed pensions imposed by Samaras, the indifferent right-wing New Democracy Capitalist leader, and George Papandreou, the uncaring former premier and then-PASOK Anti-Socialist leader before him, have left many people without a drachma, uh, euro, to fall through the holes in their pockets.

I’m not a nutritionist, although I do play one on TV, but I’m pretty sure that eating expired food is about as healthy as drinking milk a few days past its use-by date, and you can bet that no rich people who beat their breast for Greece while they’re flying the Turkish flag on their ships to avoid paying taxes that could go to feed the country’s poor and homeless will be eating expired food. It might be hard to tell if you’ve ever tasted Beluga though, although no one this side of James Bond ever has.

At least Marie Antoinette – apocryphal or not – said that if peasants didn’t have bread to eat, that “let them eat cake.” Today’s poor Greeks will have to settle for the stale version, although they’ll have plenty of competition dumpster diving for it.

When you’re eating chateaubriand and swigging Chateau Lafitte Rothschild it’s a tad difficult to understand, or have compassion for people who are eating hot dogs from pigs lips, if they can afford it, or are weighing a can of dog food as today’s meal.

First, why are stores allowed to sell food that has gone bad? Secondly, why does anyone think that that people should eat it? What’s next, maggots in a can? You can be pretty sure that once a country settles for allowing supermarkets to sell expired food that it’s game over and the end of civilization.

While we’re at it, why not let pharmacies sell expired medicine to save a few bucks? Greece’s rich don’t have to worry because they can still fly to Switzerland for liposuction from eating too much rich food.

ANYONE FIND FROZEN PIZZA?

Expired food isn’t the last straw for many in Greece – who are so desperate they’d actually eat a straw. Since some 500,000 people whose unemployment benefits have expired have no income – zero, tipota, nanu nada, zilch – they’re being relegated to scouring for road kill or hoping to find the leftovers of the rich.

Walk through Kolonaki, a rich neighborhood, and check for yourself: the rich leave half-eaten steaks on the plate, content in the knowledge that, as tax evaders and the protected elite, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Exactly whose idea was this anyway? Please find him and fire him on the spot and then send him out to buy some expired food and make him eat it until he pukes, and then make him eat that too. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a handy little guide in this area that should be required reading in Greece and comes with the caveat that you shouldn’t eat or drink food or beverages that smells like a politician.

A book by American food writer Sari Edelstein, Nutrition in Public Health: A Handbook for Developing Programs and Services, notes that eating food past its prime is often less nutritious than eating food when it is fresh. “If you regularly eat food that has expired, you might be missing out on key nutrients.”

Since the Greek government doesn’t care if the poor eat at all – and is rooting for death to win since that would reduce the rolls of pensioners – it really doesn’t care about nutrients. Like all governments, Greece has written a regulation that would make you rather have a root canal without anesthesia than read it, the regulations exclude meat and dairy from the list of perishables that can be sold and sets a ceiling dates you can continue marketing.

Foods in which the expiration date is indicated by the day and the month can stay on the shelf another week. In the event that the “best before” only month and year point, the sale may be extended for one month, and if the date indicates year only, the sale date may be extended by one quarter.

People so hungry they have double vision might miss that when they’re picking out green spaghetti. The government that wants people to eat rotten food has been unable to control dairy cartels that charge more for Greek yogurt in Greece than in Astoria, N.Y. even after adding in the cost of shipping it 4,921.39 miles.

The government hasn’t done anything to stop price-gouging, so you really can’t expect it to care if people are eating bread so bad it’s already penicillin in the hopes maybe it can cure whatever ails you so it doesn’t have to fork over any money for health care. If that doesn’t work, we can lop off their heads.

  • Feta

    This summer I witnessed a store that turned off their power at night (I.E. The freezers with the ice cream was melting and refreezing every day) and food in some stores that may have been sitting for a decade.  This is nothing new.  Going shopping in some Greek stores is an adventure and you have to look at the labeling carefully.

  • John

    That is unbelievable..That Greece has gotten to this level that the poor are scavaging for food.

  • The maverik

    To the editor of this newspaper. Go to H E L L you and your newspaper if we cant express our thoughts and feelings freely. I submitted my comment in his website page.  

  • http://twitter.com/MurkyWatters MurkeyWatters

    Andy, are you for real?  You call this journalism?  This doesn’t even count as editorializing.  This is a rant soaked in pure fiction.  First of all, there is a difference between “expired” food and food having a “best before” date.  The actual regulation goes something like this…

    The new policy only applies to non-perishable foods like the pasta, spices and canned tomato sauce …. Those items have what’s called a recommended sell-by date. Food experts say they’re safe to consume for a little while after the date, though the items lose flavor. The development ministry says the products must have a second label noting their final sell-by date.  Source: National Public Radio news item on this topic, a credible source.

    Health Canada says, “It is important to know that a best before date is only meant to indicate how long a food will retain its normal wholesomeness, flavour, and nutritional value when stored under normal conditions.”

    Andy, journalism ain’t your gig.  You get too emotional.

  • Choralife

    Shops are not allowed to sell food that has gone bad, get your facts straight. This is journalism of the worst kind, assumption, innuedno, scare and rumour mongering.

  • Hellenic American

    This guy is a real whiner!

  • mathematics

    Against the US situation Greece is a heaven.
    Look here the real american situation :
    http://www.ssa.gov/multilanguage/Greek/greek.htm

  • Georges

    This is the worst opinion piece I’ve seen here… wrong facts and ranting do not make an journalistic opinion…