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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Let Us Eat Lettuce

This week's NY Jewish Week has an article up about the dismantling of the Gush Katif greenhouses and what that may entail for the bug-free produce industry for which they are so well-known.
The Gush’s insect-free produce has become a staple for Orthodox Jews fearful of ingesting infested — and thus unkosher — fruits and vegetables. In the days before Gush Katif lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, coriander, dill and other leafy vegetables were available, religiously observant individuals and food-industry professionals had to painstakingly soak, examine and rinse every leaf and floret.

The time-consuming process prompted some Orthodox Jews to avoid these vegetables entirely and made catering for the religious community a major challenge. When Gush farmers, and a handful outside Gaza, began cultivating bug-free produce, in some cases organically grown, in the local sand (mixed with fertilizers and irrigated), they created a small niche market with great growth potential.

In Israel, Gush produce is available in every supermarket and used by virtually every kosher restaurant and caterer in the country. A Ministry of Agriculture spokeswoman estimated that Gush produce earns $15 million of the $900 million from Israeli fruit and vegetable exports every year.
In addition to the very real problem of a possible shortage of this type of produce, the article mentions the lack of planning for the relocation of the greenhouses after the disengagement.
Furthermore, Ben Ephraim said, “anyone who does relocate must buy new equipment and new greenhouses because these things are old and can’t be reconstructed. It would be cheaper in the long run to build a new greenhouse from the beginning.”

Anita Tucker, another farmer from Netzer Hazani, likened the greenhouses to an old closet.

“When you take apart an old closet it falls apart,” she said. “You can’t just put it back together as if nothing has happened.”
The article isn't clear about how the Israeli government has planned for the relocation and reestablishment of the greenhouses. It certainly must be devastating for those who worked so hard to build up this pioneering industry to have to dismantle something that was both so groundbreaking and so successful.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In addition to the very real problem of a possible shortage of this type of produce,"

Excuse me, why is this a "very real problem"? Our grandparents kept kashrut striclty and didnt have fancy veggies grown in fancy greenhouses. Maybe it was nice while it lasted, but a shortage isnt a "very real problem". Typical American ortodox jews, who expect to have evrything done for them.

11:19 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

It's a very real problem because, as the article states, "Gush produce earns $15 million...every year." This is a major source of revenue for Israel. And your comment about the "Typical American ortodox jews, who expect to have evrything done for them"? We're not asking for this produce for free. We pay good money to the Israeli economy for our crazy expectations. Our expectations are what drives the successful bug-free market. I'm not really sure why that would bother you.

11:58 AM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

"Typical American ortodox jews, who expect to have evrything done for them."

you can't possibly be serious...or well informed.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am fighting with you calling it a "very real problem". How can you call it that? Start checking your veggies like evryone else does! These expensive shortcuts is not what being ortodox is all about. Only American jews think that it is.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

"These expensive shortcuts is not what being ortodox is all about. Only American jews think that it is."

No, only stupid people do. But other American jews think that it's important to support israel by purchasing israel products, whether its wine, spices, seforim, or yes, gush katif, bug free, triple checked, oragnically-grown rabbi-blessed lettuce.

12:42 PM  
Blogger CJ Srullowitz said...

Hey anonymous,

Isn't Dole selling, lulei demistafina, pre-washed lettuce that is acceptable to most kosher consumers? And, uh, they didn't just set that up for the Orthodox Jewish market, did they?

Bottom line: you pay for convenience, kosher or otherwise. So stop banging on the orthos.

8:12 PM  
Blogger CJ Srullowitz said...

It's difficult to concern oneself with lettuce when life-and-death issues are at stake.

Yet, lulei demistafina, one of the joys of Pesach was bug-free Israeli marror, so I confess to be wondering what will be...

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue orthomom is bringing up is not that we NEED the Gush Katif produce because we are lazy. American Jews try to support the Israeli economy and as orthomom quoted, Gush Katif producs is a large source of Israel's exports.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We use these wonderful pre-minced frozen herbs which come in little 1-teaspoon cubes. They say "made is Israel". We buy them at Trader Joe's, or the kosher markets. Brand Name is "Dorot". Hecksher is usually Star-K. Do those come from Gush Katif too? I'll really miss them if they're gone...

2:09 AM  

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