Thursday, September 14, 2006

New City, New Job, Broccoli and Heksherim

I've been very busy lately in the past month I moved to a new city (Baltimore) and found a new job, then left that one for another new job. I was asked to become the Mashgiach at Johns Hopkins University which is great except I've been putting in 12-13 hour days regularly. So it pays well but leaves very little time for blogging. I've even got this nifty name tag that says "Mashgiach" apparently nobody cares about my name just my position.

What I really want to write about is Heksherim. I've been a big proponent of Shlomo Aviner's "If you don't have a reason to doubt a heksher, don't" (paraphrased from B'hava u'Emuna found in English thanks to google here). Meaning unless you know for sure that this specific Heksher is not trustworthy then you should trust it. And since I'm certified by two va'ad hakashrut organizations I've got a lot of experience in which heksherim they trust and which they do. Part of me always believed that it wasn't all together right...How do you decide? I never wanted to believe that it came down to money. And I'm now convinced that there is a method to the madness.

All of my salad bar ingredients went bad today so along with the whole process of getting the food prepared I now had the major task of checking a lot of vegetables to get this salad bar up and running. Celery, check. Cabbage, check. Lettuce, check. Then came the broccoli.

Instead of store bought whole broccoli, Dining Services gave me pre cut and presumably pre-washed (industrial not
bedika) broccoli. So I go ahead and start washing it. While checking the water I notice a brown aphid*. That's not unexpected. The next glance, there's three more. I take this opportunity to show the managers my find and tell them I hope they're washing the broccoli too - of course. Time to rewash. Geez, still more aphids, all of them brown. A lot of them. Next wash, okay this is getting ridiculous, still more brown aphids.

That makes three, got to scrap the whole bag. It was at this point that I noticed a
heksher on the bag. What? Some company decided that this was kosher? I'm still in shock. I've never seen more aphids in one handful of broccoli in my life. This heksher (do is still call it that?) is not on this list of Star-K approved heksherim (thank God), but it now occurs to me that this is why they don't accept this one and that there must be a similar reason to not accept the others.

* - Aphids are normally light green or white and parboiling turns them brown [according to the OU Guide to Preparing Fruits and Vegetables]. This heksher went through the trouble of parboiling the broccoli but forgot to check it completely. Unbelievable.

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