I’m not talking about the American food fights where globs of mashed potatoes are hurled by gleefully shrieking teenagers—isn’t it amazing that we Americans have so much food we’d waste it in this manner? No, I’m talking about the kosher food fight, where different battles rage simultaneously.
Warning: Take the following with a sense of humor, please.
Kosher Food Fights
There’s the battle of the hechshers (kosher supervision companies). Some of it’s political, unfortunately, but much of it is a very real concern that kosher consumers have for the seemingly infinitesimal number of nuances in kashrus standards. This plays out in a myriad of ways that end up spawning discussions as clear as the one Schrödinger probably had with his cat.
There’s the battle of the minhagim (customs) associated with foods, especially foods for Shabbos and Yom Tov. Does the idea of eating vegan cholent and artichoke and quinoa kugel on Shabbos flip you out?
No? You’re too cool to be phased by that?
Then what about using oil instead of shmalz or serving matzoh balls instead of Pesach noodles on Passover?
What about serving pesto pizza for Mimouna? Or swiss chard soup to break the Yom Kippur fast? Or green tea instead of schnapps?
An informal HJC poll showed (well not a poll, actually, just a chat I had with a friend), that everybody has at least one food minhag they hold to be inviolable, something that binds them with their Rebbe or parents or shtetl or ghetto.
Then there’s the battle of the kosher food magazines. They really duke it out and shell out big bucks to produce more glamorous, enticing, alluring issues than the competition. Of course, this means they’ve got to work very hard to make each issue over-the-top gorgeous and even more novel than the last.
It was pointed out to me a couple times last summer as well as very recently (by my same, unofficial pollster friend who buys all the kosher periodicals each week!), that the publications have been jumping onto the healthy, real-food bandwagon. Topics they never covered before, such as sourdough, starters and sponges, fermented foods, sprouting, raw foods, health concerns with soy, the Jewish psycho-spiritual approach to healthy eating, etc., appeared shortly after I posted blogs on the topic.
Sure, it’s probably coincidence, but my response is, even if it’s not: That’s good news! (And thanks for subscribing to my blog—I look forward to articles on sugar and sweeteners, healthy fats, ripe vs. unripe produce, etc. )
Bringing a new awareness to the kosher or kosher-friendly consumer is the entire point of HJC. Understanding why we eat (and overeat) and what the Torah has to say about proper eating and health is HHJC’s raison d’être.
Also important: exploring perspectives about the confluence of mind-body-soul and understanding that even if we’re wise and careful about what, why, when and how we eat, Hashem ultimately determines the state of our health.
And: Respecting the main rule (for the majority of people, there are exceptions) of healthy eating: EAT LESS and trying to apply this maxim, at least sometimes.
I live in Brooklyn with wonderful people and some truly excellent cooks. Sadly, much of the population here eat what I call, variously (remember, a spoonful of hyperbole helps make a point):
The S.O.S. Diet (sugar, oil, salt)
The SOGGY Diet (Synthetic, Ongepatchket, Greasy, Gassy, and Yeasty)
The ABCDEGF Diet (Arteriosclerosis, Blood pressure, Cholesterol, Diabetes and ‘Eartburn, G-d Forbid)
Of course, taste is also important. An acquaintence who was ordered by her doctor to give up salt confided to me, “I can’t do that. What will I use to make the food taste good?” And she’s absolutely right. Denatured staples, unripe produce shipped across a continent, rancid refined oils, and so on don’t taste good unless they are heavily dosed with salt or sugar (or both).
Because we live in interesting times, our true relationship with everything, including our food, is hidden by complex and often confusing veils. It is human nature to compartmentalize. So we apply Jewish teachings to our prayers, chinuch, even business transactions, but somehow, despite the standards of kashrus that are probably as high as they’ve ever been, we forget to apply Torah to our diets.
P.S. I don’t know why this post listed the time as 8:05 pm. It is 3:05. Hmm.