Never do I look forward to an ant attack in the kitchen, but this summer I found an upside: no death by botulism.
By the time I noticed the first ant on the counter, the invasion was well underway. The dishwasher seemed to be their new home, but soon enough I realized they had discovered my pantry—actually a tall, 5-shelved closet filled with boxes of dry pasta, sugar, lentils, spices and all kinds of bottled and canned goods. “Thank goodness for cans,” I thought. Ants may be persistent, but they can’t eat metal.
To impede the ants, I decided to clean out the pantry. That’s when I discovered some very old cans of food. They were years past their “use by” date.
How did that happen?
I realized it was because we were eating healthier. Now I made Russian Vegetable Soup with fresh beets, not canned beets. We preferred fresh green beans over the pre-cooked version. The large can of clams was just too large, so I kept saving it for the right occasion, which never came. As for the can of sweetened condensed milk—I have no idea why I bought it 10 years ago.
I checked the USDA site for information about botulism poisoning from old cans and discovered that my fears were mostly unfounded. I probably could have eaten their contents without adverse effects because they weren’t bulging or leaking. But I didn’t want to eat them. I would rather use my pantry space for food I actually look forward to eating.