Sunday, 24 May 2009

The Handi-Snack Experiment

" Goodman: I was a whole grain baker in Maine, and I would consider the coup to be to get our whole grain organic breads in the schools of Maine for the kids, but we just couldn't compete with Wonder Bread which could stay on the shelf -- I don't know if it was a year.

Pollan: That's amazing.

Goodman: Ours, after a few days, of course, would get moldy, because it was alive.

Pollan: Right. And, in fact, one of my tips is, don't eat any food that's incapable of rotting. If the food can't rot eventually, there's something wrong."

From an Interview of Michael Pollan with Amy Goodman.

Back in the early days of my career as a landlord, we had a tenant who was the mother of two small children who spent a lot of time running around outside. She kept them fueled with a steady stream of snacks; more than they could eat really, so we were frequently picking up discarded food that they had dropped.

At one point, sometime in May, one of them opened then dropped, uneaten, a Handi-Snack packet.

I noticed it on the ground as I rushed from the car into the apartment, but I had my hands full and couldn't pick it up right away. Later, I forgot about it. I noticed it again, a few days later, but again I had my hands full, or was in a rush, or something, and I left it.

After a couple of weeks of noticing this thing, but failing to pick it up, I noticed something else. I noticed that the open contents of this little plastic packet looked exactly the same as the first time I saw it. It was strange (and orange.)

I began not picking it up on purpose. I wondered when it would begin to decompose, since it was obviously going unrecognized as food by the local cat, squirrel, dog, mouse, skunk, racoon, ant, beetle, insects generally, mold, fungus and bacteria populations.

Sometime in the fall I gave up on waiting, and picked it up and threw it away, still looking just as "good" as the day it was dropped.


sdrv said...

We had a similar experiment with a grocery store bought birthday cake.

We had left things too late and were in a scramble for a birthday cake for the boys in December.

After their little party there was still some cake left and no room to store the big box in our fridge, so we put the box in the barbecue which was in the garage.

Trouble is we forgot all about it, and then when we were getting the garage organized for summer last weekend, we opened the barbecue and inside was the box with this perfectly preserved piece of cake.

It looked just as it had the day we bought it in the store. Pretty scary!

We will never buy another store bought cake again.

The girls birthday is coming up and a friend of ours is making an organic, dairy free cake for the party.

A much better alternative!

C said...

That reminds me of the Mould Test from "Supersize Me" where the fries showed no mould after 10 weeks:

Ferdzy said...

Steve, that cake indeed sounds scary. Cheese and crackers do at least have a reasonably long shelf life even as real food. Cake is supposed to go stale at the least!

The upcoming cake sounds a LOT more promising.

C, I have to say I have always loathed McDonalds fries. Small, thin, pale and flaccid, and they just smell nasty. I am mystified why so many people like them. It's all a matter of liking what you are accustomed to, I guess.