May 2, 2011

Ye Olde Yoshon Season has Arrived

New York… Imagine the surprise of a store manager when a customer asked him about “Yoshon” products. While not universally observed, the law of Yoshon and Chodosh may be the driving force behind the recent buying binge of cereal, pretzels, and other long lasting wheat, barley, oats, spelt, and rye based products at warehouse wholesalers and local supermarkets located in areas frequented by Orthodox Jews. Yoshon, translating as old, a term used to describe grains that have been planted prior to Passover. Chodosh refers to grains that have taken root after Passover. During the days of the 1st and 2nd temples in Jerusalem a sacrificial offering was brought that made permissible the consumption of the Chodosh grains from the previous year, which would then be referred to as Yoshon grains. In modern times the grains are permitted following the day when the sacrifice would have been given.

 

In recent years, retailers have noticed a growing trend towards the observance of Yoshon. Indeed, many restaurants, bakeries, and caterers that serve kosher consumers advertise that they comply with the Yoshon strictures. Some Kashrus agencies have developed special labeling that confirms a product’s Yoshon or Chadash status. In the past few years, there has even appeared a Yoshon Guide, a report that helps to identify Yoshon products. Additionally, the guide includes a section about reading product bar codes and production dates to determine whether the grains present in a particular product are to be considered Yoshon or Chadash. One kosher food sources said that Yoshon is the reason some kosher consumers avoid supermarkets, even those that sell their chametz on the eve of Passover, for several weeks after the holiday.  For the store manager who already added words like glatt, cholov yisroel, and pareve to his lexicon, yoshon is just another aspect of his education.