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November 28, 2015 / 16 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin

Friday, October 24th, 2014

With 5775 being a Shemittah year, that imbues vegetables and fruits from Israel this year with a sanctity that requires some extra attention in the kitchen.

There are various halachic methods that are used to handle Shmittah, or alternatively, circumvent it entirely.

One method is “Heter Mechira” which is similar to selling Chametz for Pesach, where the fields are temporarily sold to non-Jews. This popular method, used by the Israeli Rabbinate, is considered controversial by some, and generally unacceptable by many Hareidim.

A second and preferred method is “Otzar Beit Din”, where a religious court takes control of the field for the year, but then the vegetables and fruits have Shemittah sanctity and extra care must be taken with them.

Hareidim generally prefer a third method, where they simply buy fruits and vegetables from Arabs in Judea and Samaria. It circumvents the Shemittah issue, and makes the fruits and vegetables “Shemittah-free”, though Hareidim miss the opportunity and mitzvah to eat Shemittah food as a result.

Hareidim designate this method “Mehadrin” – though there is a lot of room to disagree with that designation.

(There’s a fourth option, which was made popular by Gush Katif. Vegetables are grown in hothouses, in pots detached from the ground. It’s an expensive way to grow vegetables, but the vegetables don’t have Shemittah status, and it supports Jewish farmers in Israel. Due to the cost, it is not extensively implemented).

Of course, adding Kosher L’Mehadrin to anything guarantees its price will go up, and Shemittah-free vegetables and fruits bought from Arabs are no exception.

Shemittah-free “Mehadrin” vegetables and fruits can easily cost two or three times more than standard “Heter Mechira” fruits and vegetables.

And that leaves room for disreputable people to try and make an easy and illicit profit.

Agriculture Ministry officials accidentally uncovered a major Arab fruit and vegetable ring this week that was taking advantage of the price difference, according to a Makor Rishon report.

Many Hareidim who thought they were buying “Mehadrin” Shemittah-free vegetables from Arabs in Judea and Samaria – simply weren’t.

The Arabs vegetable network was buying both Heter Mechira vegetables from the open market, as well as vegetables from unknown sources, without any health or agricultural supervision or certification.

The Arab network was stamping their products with fake Israeli Rabbinate certificates and selling them as “Mehadrin” to restaurants and stores who wanted or required “Mehadrin” Shemittah-free vegetables.

The vegetables were distributed throughout Israel to the Hareidi market.

At best, the Hareidim have been eating “Heter Mechira”. At worse, they’ve been eating vegetables grown using unpurified sewer water or pesticides from unknown and unsupervised Arabs fields.

Rabbis Find Bugs in Most American Fruits and Vegetables

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The majority of fruits and vegetables are now suspect for infestation, according to rabbinic authorities.

Rabbis are finding the tiny bugs in previously “clean” fruits and vegetables under the microscope, and the (Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc website notes that it “is continuing conducting an intense review of its policy regarding insect infestation in fruits and vegetables.”

The rabbis note that the insects can be removed with proper cleaning but add that most people simply do not have the knowledge to do such a proper cleaning. Bug checking has become a major topic for seminars for rabbis and kosher supervisors as well as ordinary consumers.

The cRc wants to keep customers away from that task. “Many times one comes across a fruit or vegetable that is highly infested with insect,” they said. “This is especially true with some organic produce. In such a case, one should not attempt to try and check and remove the insects and the produce should not be used. This is due to the fact that you are highly unlikely to properly check and remove all of the insects.”

A Montreal kosher supervisor Montreal recently issued a “kashrus alert” about strawberries that were found to contain bugs.

However, kosher agencies offer advice on how to cut the suspected fruit or vegetable and how to properly rinse. For those in kosher food service this can create havoc in a business.

“Imagine ordering a large quantity of a fruit or vegetable only to be told by the rabbi that I cannot use it because my agency just sent out an alert about it,” one caterer said.

A major kosher supermarket said it had to discontinue some salads when such notices were received by their rabbi. Some vegetables have become no-nos as rabbis say they cannot be checked.

A good example is artichokes, which the rabbis say cannot be properly checked for insects and are not recommended. Fresh artichoke bottoms may be used after a general inspection to rule out obvious infestation. Canned artichoke bottoms are acceptable only with a reliable approval from a kosher agency.

Frozen artichoke bottoms may be used if there are no added kosher sensitive ingredients. When asked for their reaction, some rabbis simply said that when pesticides are no longer used, it is no mystery why the bugs thrive.

Consuming bugs is against Jewish law.

US Orthodox Jews Find Bugs in Nutrition Agenda

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The federal government says spinach is so healthy that schools will lose their eligibility for funding if the Popeye favorite is not served, but some orthodox schools say the rule is full of bugs – literally.

Several orthodox Jewish groups have asked the US Dept. of Agriculture to choose substitutes for leafy green vegetables that are difficult if not impossible to be cleaned of tiny insects that are forbidden under Jewish dietary laws, the Forward reported.

“The problem of insect infestation has been confirmed by numerous rabbinical authorities and kosher certification agencies, and many schools have raised this problem,” Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Washington director, said in a statement.

Another complaint about the federal program is that it wants t limit the amount of grain-based foods, a diet that would not allow for any other grainy foods except for the one slice of bread that is required in order to recite the Grace after Meals.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-orthodox-jews-finds-bugs-in-nutrition-agenda/2013/02/25/

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