Friday, May 15, 2009

New York City is such a strange place to live.

People shouldn't take offense at the title of this post. I know many of you reading this are real New Yorkers, born and raised here, and many are adopted New Yorkers, who love the city and don't want to live anywhere else, at least for the next ten years. New York has its good points, that's for sure. But I think we can all agree that there is no other city like it in the United States, and that living here is a very particular type of experience.

So today's New York topic is milk, in particular the expiration date on milk. Behold the photo below. This is a fresh half-gallon of milk B picked up from the store a few days ago. Please note in particular that there are two expiration dates!

Yes, that's right, New York City has its own system for calculating expiration dates, separate from the system used in the rest of the state. The official explanation is... well, I couldn't easily find an official explanation on the Internet, but B and I have our theories about this.

Those of you who live in New York City have surely noticed that it's almost impossible for deliveries to be made to the bodegas and delis and grocery stores in an efficient manner. There is always some sort of double or triple parking going on, always not enough workers to quickly move the food. I have often walked past the Morton Williams up here and noticed many, many large boxes piled with food just sitting in front of the store waiting to be taken to the storage underground. And yes, I have seen frozen dairy products (frozen yogurt) sitting out in the sun. In other parts of the nation, the dairy products move directly from their refrigerated truck and into the refrigerated storage in the grocery store with less than two minutes spent out in the heat of the day. That's simply not possible in New York City, thus, your milk is probably going to go bad before it would in Albany.

Another interesting thing about New York City milk, unrelated to this expiration date issue, is that the price of milk is regulated by the city. They recalibrate the price monthly, and last June the price of a gallon of milk was supposed to be no more than $3.93. Of course, this may be the law but very few grocers actually follow it. I know I pay more than that for a gallon of milk on a regular basis.

New York City is a weird place. We pay too much for milk here despite the law regulating the price, and the milk expires much quicker than elsewhere. I'm sure I'll come up with a billion more posts about why living in New York City is so strange in the next couple of years. In the meantime, I've got some milk that needs to be taken care of before it goes bad...


  1. They do sometimes crack down on the price per gallon, but especially organic/local/grass-fed pampered cow milk costs more. And bodega milk... Also I've always heard the same reason for the date; basically milk always gets warm somewhere along the line, so it won't last as long in NYC.
    For fun, although I'm sure you've seen it!: