Skip to comments.Bugging out: Indoor insect-free farm providing new foods to observant Jews
Posted on 07/14/2018 1:04:22 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The vegetables and fruits grown inside a Burlington, New Jersey greenhouse look completely ordinary.
But Solomon Fried's crops are different. He goes to extreme lengths to make sure they are free of bugs.
"You're always looking for insects, I would imagine? Yes, that's a 24-hour thing. They never sleep, so we have to be alert," Fried said.
Fried is obsessed with bugs because his produce is sold in Brooklyn's ultra-orthodox community, and insects are not kosher. Jews who strictly observe religious dietary rules do not even want to eat them accidentally.
"The problem is there are many insects that lodge themselves into the vegetables, the fruits, whether it is on the leaf, sometimes it is inside the veins of the leaf itself," explained Rabbi Marc Penner of Yeshiva University.
Removing bugs from typically farmed produce often requires intense washing. At this kosher restaurant, a rabbi with the Orthodox Union spends 15 minutes soaking strawberries in soapy water and examining them with a light before certifying they're insect-free.
The requirement is so onerous many observant Jews avoid farm-fresh fruits and vegetables altogether and stick to pre-packaged produce already checked by rabbis, limiting their food choices.
Until a few years ago, there was only romaine and iceberg. A restaurant had to serve regular romaine and a nice dish," Fried said.
Fried, a Hasidic Jew who worked in the food industry, sensed a business opportunity. Two years ago, he opened a 3,000 square foot greenhouse in Central New Jersey to farm produce in a strictly bug-free environment.
He grows greens hydroponically in water and raises strawberries with a soil substitute - environments not friendly to insects. For extra protection, he seals the greenhouse with netting and corking.
Michael Scotto: A rabbi comes in once a week and inspects?
Fried: Yes, and they wash it down. and then I have to wait for the phone call to see if approved or not approved. And so far we have been on the approved list.
Fried says his strawberries are the first some Jews in Borough Park have ever tasted.
And with the orthodox population growing, so is Fried's business. He delivers to gourmet kosher markets and restaurants in Borough Park, like Upside Craft Burger where the owner no longer must pay a rabbi to inspect the greens.
"Getting everything right with quality was almost impossible on a consistent basis. It was impossible," said Yanky Mayer, owner of Upside Craft Burger.
Fried says there's enough demand that he will soon relocate to a larger greenhouse, growing more produce insect-free.
Obsessive. Gd forgives eating something by accident that isnt kosher. We are to live by the Torah, not become anal by the Torah. Just checking visually for bugs is all that is necessary.
Some insects are actually Kosher.
The Title “Bugging Out” reminded me of an episode of Doomsday Preppers. There was a rabbi who raised rabbits. Even though they aren’t Kosher, he said it was okay to eat non-Kosher foods when you’re “starving”
Didn’t John the Baptist subsist on locusts and wild honey?
“The requirement is so onerous many observant Jews avoid farm-fresh fruits and vegetables altogether and stick to pre-packaged produce already checked by rabbis, limiting their food choices.”
That’s just not cricket.
We were working to set up the program here, but after a year a typhoon went thru and flattened everything so we went back to just growing organic rice.
Yes. According to Leviticus, you may eat insects that have “jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.”
locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper remain popular in many places
Good luck with pepper.
Feds allow 11% bug content.
How many insects have four legs?
Im sure that in biblical times, they were able to prevent all insects from entering the vegetable farms and granaries. ( sarc).
Not much different than crabs or lobster, really. Except these too, are banned by Jewish dietary laws ( more for me!)
Maybe they weren’t very good at counting.
The ones youve pulled 2 legs off of?
That would seem like it would get tedious, to get enough to amount to anything to eat.
LOL, since all insects have six legs...
Aramaic Bible in Plain English:
Blind guides who strain out gnats and swallow camels!
They all have at least four ;)
I agree. I think the Hasidim have gone off the deep end with too much focus on nothings. Perhaps their response to the modern world is to build ever stronger barriers. They’ve worked very hard at recreating the shtetl, but their form of Judaism is no more authentic than modern orthodox, conservative, or reform.
I wonder what kind of prices they pay for this produce where insects are not allowed. Insects take care of pollination for free and if you don’t allow insects, then you’ve got to pay a person to take care of the pollination to have fruit. That would get expensive in a hurry. $10/pint for the previously-unknown strawberry anybody????
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