Assuming I purchased this cumin a year before its expiration date of May 2001, it has followed me through four crosstown moves. That's it—before I move again, there will be a spice purge.
Seeing the date made me reminisce: ah, 2001, it was a good year. Well, maybe not. I was still in a grad program and a marriage that weren't for me. But evidently, amidst the whole train wreck that was my life, I had the good sense to want to cook some Indian or Mexican food—at least once, anyway. That makes me feel better about 29-Year-Old Me.
After I discovered the cumin's antiquity when I wanted to make bean dip the other day, I started looking at other spices in the cabinet, and some of them don't even have expiration dates. Does that mean they pre-date the FDA? Lately I've taken to writing the month and year of purchase with a Sharpie on the bottom of items I bring home from the store that are likely to stick around the kitchen cabinets for a while.
Better yet, I should just buy spices from the Co-op bulk bins, in very very small quantities.