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New hope for an old food debate


Technologically, at least, the future sounds like a wonderful reason to keep on living. Driverless cars. Robots doing our housework. A television cable system in which we no longer will have to call a help number once a week for someone to explain why the program we were watching suddenly has disappeared and there’s a message on our screen that says “No Signal.”

OK, maybe that last one’s a fantasy. But, according to most predictions, we have a whole lot of technical goodies coming: kitchen appliances that can be remotely controlled with our cell phones; security systems that can be streamed to our tablets; gadgets to monitor our homes’ energy use.

While all of those sound very nice, the prediction that really excites me is one that says someday there will be a display built into refrigerators that will determine when leftovers are spoiled.

That can’t come too soon for me, because the issue of should it stay or should it go has been a leftover bone of contention at our house since the day after the honeymoon.

My wife and I probably aren’t the only odd couple when it comes to leftovers. When a fastidious Felix asks about the identity of a suspicious green sandwich in their newly combined refrigerator, a nonchalant Oscar replies, “It’s either very new cheese or very old meat.”

I’m not a big fan of things that grow in the refrigerator. I understand that not every item has the shelf life of a Twinkie. If you can tie a stalk of celery into a knot, I know it’s probably past it’s prime. And I realize that milk needs to pass the sniff test; if taking a whiff of it causes your head to snap violently backward, dislocating two of more vertebrae, you may want to consider pouring it out in the next week or so.

But my wife is guilty of food ageism. We may have fashion magazines in our house that are older than Betty White, but everything in our refrigerator would have a daily checkout time of 11 a.m. if she had her way.

If I find an open jar in the refrigerator that’s a few weeks past the “Best if used by” date on its lid, I assume it’s merely a marketing ploy to make us throw it out and buy a new jar. She considers it a commandment and figures it’s grounds for calling the Haz-Mat team.

So I’m hoping technology really can come up with a device to identify spoiled food and that I’ll be around long enough to use it.

Although that probably depends on what was in that green sandwich I had for lunch.


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