Checking Fruits and Vegetables for Bugs – What Can Potentially Be in Non-Kosher Food

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Video series: Bugs in Salad that we eat without Checking



Excerpted from “Me, the Office Rabbi:”

The Non-Kosher Restaurant

My resolve to keep my religious beliefs private is tested one day when I’m invited out to lunch with our CEO, the head of my department, and a bigwig in the publishing industry. The lunch is in a non-kosher restaurant. “No problem,” a fellow religious co-worker explains to me. “What you do is order a salad and pretend to eat it while secretly slipping it into your napkin.”

What is this? The Spanish Inquisition? I call my Rabbi and he says that won’t work. It’s considered maris ayin—the appearance of wrong doing. If I order a salad other people will think it’s kosher and they might order it as well. “You can order a coke,” he says, “but that’s it.”

As the meeting draws near I’m not sure what to do. Everyone makes their order and then the waiter comes to me. “What would you like?” he asks.

“Just a coke,” I say.

“That’s it? Nothing to eat?”

“Yes, that will be all,” I reply. “Thank you.”

Everyone looks at me. “You can’t eat anything?” my department head asks me.

“I keep kosher,” I explain.

“Can’t you just have a salad?” the publishing bigwig asks.

The blood is rushing to my face. I’m embarrassed and uncomfortable, but I explain that the Talmud states that the vegetables in a salad could have been cut with a knife that cut non-kosher meat.

“Oh, the Talmud,” my department head says, nodding. The Talmud is a is a large, weighty collection of books and in the publishing industry if there’s one thing we respect it’s books. They start discussing the Talmud before drifting back to the purpose of our meeting.

It was terribly awkward, but once it was done it felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest. I’m a religious person and everyone knows it. I can’t hide it and you know what? I don’t want to.

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