Thursday, 14 May 2015


“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.” Proverbs 25:21 – King James Bible

On my way home after work yesterday, I stopped by the supermarket to get some groceries. While there, I saw a couple of employees getting rid of items from the shelves. I was curious as it appeared that they were trashing them. I stopped and asked, and sure enough, the items were being thrown out as they had reached their ‘use-by’ date. I enquired whether the food was going to be taken to the tip or whether it would be given to be used somewhere – I don’t know where, but it seemed an awful waste to throw it out. They did not know for certain, but one of them thought the food would be taken to the tip.

I looked this up on the web and found a useful Government site from which I quote: 

“Manufacturers err on the side of caution: Manufacturers usually choose a ‘best before’ date well before the time when the food would be expected to deteriorate and spoil. A conservative ‘best before’ date is designed to encourage you to eat the product while it is fresh and at its best, so you should consider ‘best before’ dates as a guide only. Frozen and canned products, in particular, tend to keep their quality for some time after the ‘best before’ date has expired. Within reason, provided the food looks and smells as you would expect, it should be safe to eat, even if the ‘best before’ date has passed.”

Hence my thoughts about the food being donated to charity and used immediately, being a good idea. I presume it is cheaper for the supermarket to dispose of the food rather than organise pick-ups or deliveries, etc. There is always the threatening spectre of costly law-suits, also, I guess. It just seems a terrible waste, especially when people are going hungry every night.

This experience inspired the word of Thesaurus Thursday, which is cornucopia, seemingly apt for the excess and variety of goods available in our supermarkets this day and age…

cornucopia |ˌkôrn(y)əˈkōpēə| noun
a symbol of plenty consisting of a goat's horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and corn.
• an ornamental container shaped like such a horn.
• an abundant supply of good things of a specified kind: The festival offers a cornucopia of pleasures.
cornucopian |ˈkɔrn(j)əˌkoʊpiən| adjective
ORIGIN early 16th cent: From late Latin, from Latin cornu copiae ‘horn of plenty’ (a mythical horn able to provide whatever is desired).

The Cornucopia, which symbolises abundance, is usually seen as a curved goat’s horn, filled to overflowing with fruit and grain, but which could be filled with whatever the owner wished. Often nowadays the horn has been replaced by a horn-shaped basket, especially in ornamental table pieces or decorative tableaux.  The Cornucopia has always been associated with Thanksgiving in the United States, though it was a symbol long before this holiday existed. Man has always been thankful for the abundance provided by Nature.

The Cornucopia originally came from ancient Greek mythology (Κέρας της Αμάλθειας – Amalthea’s horn) and the term is carried on today with a similar meaning. The oldest account of the origin of the Cornucopia tells that Zeus was committed by his mother Rhea to the care of the daughters of Melisseus, a Cretan king. Amalthea, one of the nurses, hung Zeus in a cradle from a tree, so that he could be found neither in heaven, nor on earth, nor in the sea. They fed the infant deity with the milk of a goat. While the infant Zeus was playing with the goat, he broke off one of the horns of the goat and gave it to his nurses, endowing it with the wonderful power of becoming filled with whatever the possessor might wish.

So the ‘Horn of Amalthea’ became the symbol of plenty, and whoever had it in his or her possession would never starve. The horn of plenty was regarded as the symbol of inexhaustible riches and plenty and became the attribute of several immortals. Another story tells about the fifth labour of Hercules. Hercules fought the river-god Achelous, who could take the form of either a snake or bull. Achelous failed to defeat Hercules as a snake and changed into a bull. Hercules ripped his horn off and diverted the river. This land became very fertile, and is a reference to the horn of plenty. Then the Naiads took the horn, consecrated it, and filled it with fragrant flowers. In the Roman version it was the Goddess Abundantia (Abundance) who adopted the horn and called it “Cornucopia”.

Some useful links regarding donating food to charity:

Make Poverty History

Youth off the Streets
America’s Second Harvest

Children’s Hunger Fund
Hunger Site

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