March 28, 2011

Japan and Kosher Food Supply - March 28, 2011

Within 24 hours after the disastrous earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, a reporter called to inquire if any kosher certified factories were in the doomed areas. Later in the week, when fears rose that the food supply might be contaminated from the uncontained leaks in the nuclear reactors, the questions surfaced again. These questions generated some thinking: What if a main source of our kosher food supply was suddenly not available? What if key kosher certified ingredients produced in 99 countries were suddenly off limits? This reminded me of a commentary I had once read by a prominent rabbi about the creation of the earth. Why, he asked, was the world created with different time zones? Could not G-d have created the earth all at once with one time zone? His answer was that our Father in Heaven is also the Father of Mercy. He knew that if he created only one time zone and multiple seasons, his children might be deprived of a food supply for many months. Hence, the time zones -- that there should never be a void in the availability of food.

Indeed, this phenomenon is very much evident when the US and other nations rush to supply food to stricken areas anywhere in the world. Technology has shrunk the world to the point that some products are a hybrid of ingredients produced in multiple countries. There is no longer an off season for any grown product. With an estimated 350,000 ingredient items and end products produced in 99 countries, the Almighty continues to show his mercy. Wars, natural disasters and other calamities are very much a part of the human experience. Thankfully, the answer is printed on every dollar bill: In G-d we trust! After all, it was He who dictated the kosher laws in the first place.

I stand corrected! Perhaps this is also the moment to come clean on a previous My Sixth Sense Column which dealt with the controversy over an alleged New York City grant of $1.93 million to Moisha’s Supermarket in Flatbush to expand the discount kosher supermarket. In fact, Mr. Moisha Binik, the proprietor of the popular store is investing $8 million into the venture and the $1.93 million is no more than a tax exemption over many years, a city courtesy routinely granted to many developers of projects important to the city’s residents. Furthermore, I determined that the move was extremely popular with Moisha’s customer base, who covet the store’s deep discounting of kosher foods.