Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rabbis Find Something New To Certify Kosher: Fresh Peaches

We went grocery shopping at a local New Jersey market last week and were surprised to find fresh peaches, grown in the USA, individually labeled with a large OU symbol and the words "Certified Kosher."

We remember our teachers in Yeshiva telling us that kosher certification is not needed for fresh fruits and vegetables, because they are inherently kosher year-round, and even for Passover, when the restrictions are far greater.

So we contacted the Webbe Rebbe (no, we're not kidding) at the Orthodox Union's website, which promptly answers questions related to kashrut.  We got a reply within one business day to the effect that no, kosher certification is not required for fruits and vegetables.

However, there are wax coatings on some fruits and vegetables. The OU poskim (Rabbinic decisors) are of the opinion that the wax does not present a kashrut problem. Apparently, because some people believe that it is problematic, the company that picks and packs the peaches has chosen to be certified as Kosher by the OU, for the sake of those who think that the wax coatings are a concern.

But we still wonder, why would a peach farmer get the idea that he should pursue kosher certification?  Then it came to us.

On Purim 2009 we published the Purim Edition of The Kustanowitz Kronikle with the lead story, Rabbis To Require Shechita For Many Fruits And Vegetables.  The Purim spoof maintained that a new tractate of the Talmud was discovered during Israel's incursion into Gaza, and that this tractate contained hitherto unknown laws that shechita (ritual animal slaughter) also applies to fruits and vegetables with visible stems.

Although peaches should not fall into this category, we believe an overly cautious farmer read this story, believed it was real, and hedged his bets by applying for kosher certification for his peach crop (at least we'd like to believe that's how it happened.)

If you missed the Purim Kronikle, here's a link to all the issues that you can read and print.  Enjoy!

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