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The Potential Danger of Kitniyot

April 13, 2017

Even if you aren’t Jewish, which is most you, there’s a real reason why you should care about this technical detail about kosher for Passover dietary observances. Why? Well, consider the following question.

What is the best part of Passover?

It’s not matzo. That’s available all year anyway. Same goes for matzo ball soup. You can get that any time you want at a variety of places. Most people hate gefilte fish, and anyhow, that’s perpetually on supermarket shelves. Matzo crack, that toffee and chocolate coated matzo confection, is a compelling answer, but again there’s no reason that needs to be a once a year treat.

The answer can be found in the Passover section at the Kosher Chopper off Central Avenue in Colonie just off 155. Presumably, you can find it elsewhere too. Do you know what I’m talking about yet? Here’s a hint. It’s easy to find because of the bright yellow caps.

Yep. It’s kosher for Passover Coke season! Once a year, you don’t have to buy Mexican Coke to get this classic American beverage made the way it should be, with sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.

And it’s not just Coke either. There are plenty of other supermarket items that once upon a time were made with cane sugar, and now have been sullied by science. Fox’s U-Bet is one of them.

Those who observe the Passover dietary laws are prohibited from eating most products made from the five forbidden grains, called hametz. Those are wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt. Which is why this week I’m drinking wine and rum instead of beer and whiskey.

But many also avoid other grains, legumes, and seeds that are classified as kitniyot. Those include corn, rice, beans, and lentils.

When I was growing up, this was the hardest part of keeping kosher for Passover. I can’t tell you how freeing it has been to allow kitniyot back into our diet during this spring festival. All of a sudden instead of just eating meat, potatoes, eggs, vegetables, and matzoh, we’ve got a diet rich in whole grains and fiber thanks in a large part to the rice and beans.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I’m nervous that as corn starts creeping into more people’s Passover diets, the need for national food and beverage brands to produce a special HFCS-free version will fade. And that would be tragic. Okay, sure. It wouldn’t be dangerous, per se. But there could be some unintended negative consequences to this loosening of the holiday dietary laws.

Part of me wants to run out and buy a kosher for Passover bottle of Coke, just to support the brand for going out of its way to supply those Jews who still avoid kitniyot. Not that I’m drinking soda these days, especially with the diet and all.

Which is going exceptionally poorly. Having Raf leave a heap of his delicious leftover brisket hasn’t helped either. Sigh. Part of me is seriously considering just giving up and letting my inner fat kid out. The only problem with that is that I hate shopping for clothes, and I don’t want to have to buy new pants.

Let’s get through Passover first, and we’ll reassess the diet later. Speaking of later, Passover will be over before you know it. So grab the good Coke now, before it’s too late.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rabbi Don Cashman permalink
    April 13, 2017 4:58 pm

    Don’t worry. The illogical ban on kitniyot has only been abrogated by Conservative, Reform, and Israeli Jewry, and was never part of Sefardic practice. The Ashkenazic Orthodox here in the Diaspora won’t ever abrograte it, and they control American Kashrut supervision. Since their numbers are growing, you’ll have KfP Coke for the rest of your life.

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