The Art of Expiry Dates

So I was talking to my friend Mohammed, whose doing his Phd in food science. He explained to me that for one of his projects, he spent 6 months working on a mathematical equation to figure out the expiry date for a certain brand of yogurt.

HALF A YEAR.

TO FIGURE OUT AN EXPIRY DATE.

It seems so simple right?

And as he was telling me this, I immediately thought of all the clearly expired food which I’ve just shrugged and eaten anyway. Potato chips, broccoli, crackers, basically any snack foods, the list goes on.

Anyways, I felt so guilty. Like I had thrown away the work of so many scientists in my misguided attempts to not waste food.

Then Mohammed started talking about how he hated how commercial that job was, because the company didn’t even end up putting the correct expiry dates on the packaging in the end. They just put whichever expiry date they could get away with, and make the most money from in the end. There’s a lot more for me to learn about expiry dates, food waste, and the whole food industry — but that’s not really what this post is about.

It’s really about me and Mohammed. On the surface, we have nothing in common. We are doing completely different things. He’s a “scientist”, I’m an “artist”…

But when Mohammed told me that story about the yogurt, I realized that we both have the same problems. I no longer saw him as a scientist or whatever, I saw him for his struggle.

Mohammed didn’t want to spend the rest of his life working on yogurt expiry dates, he wanted more time to work on projects like making edible packaging for strawberries. To create new and awesome things!

For me, it is the same. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working on ads for yogurt… I want to create new and awesome things! Just like Mohammed! I started to see how we both just want freedom to do the things we love and make a living at the same time.

P.S. — Now, when I see an expiry date, I think of Mohammed and my heart goes out to all the scientists. An expiry date is just one example of all the mundane things we take for granted. Think of all the other things out there. Someone, somewhere, has spent so much effort on something we might never appreciate.