In his video — which has over 1.6 million views — he responds to a TikToker who made a video saying they throw food out the day it hits its expiration date. Hayden says, "As a farmer, I don't appreciate you throwing the food out. OK, let me break it down for you. You've been lied to by the food companies — it's making them billions of dollars each year, so of course they're going to lie to your face. ... I literally work all year long for 60 percent of this food to be thrown in the garbage. Expiration dates on your package just indicate peak freshness — meaning if you eat the food before this date, sure you'll get the best taste...but you do know that when you go to farmer's markets, you buy the seconds."
BuzzFeed spoke to Hayden, who said his passion for the food and agricultural industry is ironic because he grew up hating it. "After witnessing the distortion between how the food is grown and the final plate on the dinner table, I decided to devote my entire life to food and agriculture," he said.
Hayden decided to share the video because he wants to help properly educate consumers about food. "I used to live with a roommate who threw food out the moment it reached its 'expiration' date and it physically pained me. As a farmer, we spend countless days laboring away growing the food. Seeing it wasted not only diminishes our work, but is downright wasteful. I studied food and agricultural business at the University of Guelph and almost every problem that could be attributed to food insecurity stemmed from consumers being misinformed," he explained.
The biggest misunderstanding when it comes to food expiration dates is people thinking the food isn't safe to eat after the item's expiration date — when this isn't necessarily true. Each person wastes approximately 219 pounds of food every year, and a huge portion of that comes from consumers thinking the food in their fridge is "harmful" simply because of a date printed on the label. As Hayden said in his TikTok, the "expiration" date really just means that is the date the food will hit its peak freshness — it doesn't automatically spoil after that date.
Unfortunately, as pointed out in an article by CNN, retailers are doing nothing to change consumers' perception of this. "Consumers are being tricked into throwing out perfectly good food and it is having negative effects on not only the farmers, but the world as a whole. People need to know that expiration dates have become a marketing tactic," added Hayden.
So, how can we really know if a food item is expired? Hayden said to use your five instincts. "Use those primal instincts to look past the marketing tricks and see if your food is really going to hurt you. Sniff for bitter or gross smells. Look at the food and see if there is mold or imperfections growing on the food. Taste a small amount and see if there’s anything sour or rotten."
If you want to read more information about food waste in America and how to help prevent it, you can view this guide.
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