Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fun with the OU & the OK: Checking for bugs

Here's the short version from the Orthodox Union/OU. (That's the link I couldn't find when I wrote Food News 2.) While you're there, let's go to the video. (Here's another OU bug-hunting video that's less talk and more demonstration.)

From the OU's PDF, here are the instructions regarding broccoli:

Fresh broccoli, stems: Wash thoroughly.
Fresh broccoli, whole: Parboil for no more than 1 minute. Segregate each head individually. Look carefully at the branched area of each floret, in the crevice formed by two branches forking out from a singletrunk like a Y; spread apart each floret head and look through the florets, into the branch area; if 1 or 2 insects are found, continue examining the remaining sections of head; if 3 insects are found, the entire head should be discarded.

It gets better, folks (quoth she sarcastically)--here's the OK Kosher Certification organization's PDF re checking for bugs, and below are their instructions regarding broccoli:

Frozen Broccoli
Needs an acceptable kosher symbol (Bodek, Eden and
Golden Glow are acceptable with a kosher symbol on
the box).
Fresh Broccoli
Only Stems May Be Used.
Wash thoroughly. No further checking is necessary.

So, according to the OU, anyone with manual-dexterity limitations, vision problems, or lack of time and/or patience can't really check their fresh-broccoli florets "properly," and according to the OK, no one should even try.

Yep, when in doubt, throw it out.

Isn't bal tashchit also a mitzvah?!

And what about financial considerations? Have some of us gone overboard just because we can now afford to do so (allegedly)? Could our ancestors in the shtetlach of Eastern Europe or the parched lands of the Middle East have afforded simply to throw out half their produce?

Is there anyone who actually believes that our ancestors, when out picking wild blueberries (a) "open[ed] and inspect[ed] each berry for maggots,"or (a) could actually either find or afford enough sugar to "Sprinkle sugar on berries," and (b) had the ability, even as recently as maybe 90 years ago, to "refrigerate for a few hours" to see whether any maggots would come out for a snack?

The Hillel version (standing on one foot): Is all this really necessary, or even preferable? Whatever happened to common sense? When it comes to kashrut, modern technology may be a double-edge sword--just because we can do this, must we?

See also Bugged.


Blogger Lili said...

I didn't check so maybe it's not allowed, but if you put the berries in water, the maggots will come out. At that point, I would be throwing them all away.

Tue Nov 22, 05:10:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Lili, I may yet end up eating my words, and not much else.

Tue Nov 22, 05:12:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

It wouldn't be the first time.

Tue Nov 22, 05:15:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Miami Al had a better idea, though:

"Easiest solution for strawberries, cut off the leafy part and some sliver of the flesh... The issues with infestations is in the green part on top, not the berry itself."

Tue Nov 22, 05:21:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

My motto: Make it simple, 'cause in the kitchen, I'm stupid.

Tue Nov 22, 05:22:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

In all seriousness, my wrists have probably recovered as much as they're likely to recover from my having broken them a couple of years ago. I know how sore they can get after prolonged typing and/or mousing (and for me, "prolonged" can mean anything over 2 pages, or 1/2 hour worth of heavy editing or formatting). If I spent 5 minutes checking every individual leaf of lettuce for a salad, my wrists might very well hurt enough to make it difficult for me to make the rest of dinner.

Tue Nov 22, 06:01:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...

Silly Jews, everyone knows maggots don't come from berries, they come from meat... Since we're playing 16th century scientists...

Tue Nov 22, 08:40:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Okay, maybe what they're talking about is not maggots, but some other treif/non-kosher creature. It would be nice, though, if they got their scientific terminology straight and called the insects/worms by their correct name(s).

Wed Nov 23, 11:12:00 AM 2011  

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