Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pesach and Wasting Food

Guest Post by A Mother in Israel
Originally posted

Jonathan Bloom at Wasted Food writes about throwing out food in advance of Passover:
I can’t criticize religious or cultural practices that cause food waste, but I will say that not all Jews throw out or burn their leavened foods each spring. There are different levels of observance, both personally and officially (Reform, Conservative and Orthodox).
When I was growing up, my dad “sold” our chametz to a colleague for a symbolic buck.
While it's true that a strict observance of Passover may involve some waste of food, I want to make two points.
  1. The need to get rid of chametzdik food isn't so different from going on vacation or moving to a new house, when you also might throw out opened packages and perishables. In all three cases, one solution is to give the food to a neighbor or co-worker (unless they also observe Pesach).
  2. People who throw out tons of food before Passover are the same people who waste food all year round. They overbuy, can't be bothered with leftovers, and don't keep track of their stock. I understand that a food-waste blogger doesn't like to see of thousands of people burning food in a religious ceremony. But I imagine it's a fraction of the food that gets thrown out during the year in many families.
In other words, it's not the Pesach requirements that lead to waste. After all, we have eleven and a half months to figure out how to use up the chametz.

I grew up with a strong tradition of food conservation. Other than an occasional jar of cooked rice and a few slices bread for my father to burn in the backyard erev Pesach, I don't recall her throwing out food. I think that is the authentic Jewish tradition. But I see and read about huge amounts of overbuying and overeating for Shabbat, holidays and smachot. I also suspect that if Jonathan Bloom were to peek into the garbage cans of the chametz burners after the holiday, he would find a good number of Passover treats that lost their appeal on 22 Nissan.

Related: Pesach Excess

Celebrate Passover 2009 with
Magnificent Passover Gift Baskets from Oh Nuts.

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