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Rules of Passover also benefit vegetarians

(Joyce Trepus welcomes your questions at 503-292-2741).

Passover begins on Tuesday and is a celebration commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites who were enslaved by the Egyptians approximately 3,000 years ago. It is also called Pesach and has a specific set of dietary rules. Many supermarkets maintain a good selection of appropriate foods for your selection whether you are of the Jewish faith or not.

We enjoy the offerings and look forward to buying them. As former vegetarians, we appreciate the care with which kosher and pareve foods are prepared for sale.

The following information is taken from the March 2007 article by rabbi Aharon J. Brun-Kestler, printed in 'Natural Selections' (a free magazine found in grocery stores).

'The Hebrew word kasher ('kosher' in English), means 'proper' or acceptable. Kosher is, at its core, the body of law governing what food is permitted to the Jewish people. For observant Jews, as well as many Moslems and Seventh Day Adventists whose religion dictate similar regiments, kosher is adhered to for spiritual reasons. It is a misconception that rabbis bless kosher food. Rather, kosher involves thoroughly examining each certified item's ingredients and manufacturing to ensure that it complies with kosher law. Each certified company enters into a contractual agreement with the Orthodox Union (OU) delimiting acceptable ingredients and processes, and each further agrees to periodic unannounced inspections.

'After the prohibition of pork, perhaps the best known kosher requirement is the absolute separation of meat and milk. This means much more than no cheeseburgers, classic lasagna, and pizza . . . Foods combining meat and milk -or even eating them together at the same meal- are strictly forbidden.

'Foods that are neither meat nor dairy fall into the pareve or neutral category and may be consumed with either meat or dairy . . .

'While produce, eggs, and many other foods are naturally pareve, care must be taken in processing, as manufacturing environments, additives, or processing aids may present problems.

'For many in the broader public, kosher certification stands for important guarantees. Many vegetarians who consume dairy want assurances that no meat ingredient are present. For vegans, pareve offers assurance that there are no animal components in the food. Those who are lactose intolerant commonly rely upon pareve when looking for foods that are safe to eat. As Jewish law forbids shellfish, kosher is a benefit for those allergic to this category as well.'

The article is too long to reprint in full, but you can go to Bales Thriftway in Cedar Mill for a copy of the magazine or call me and I will fax one to you.

Kosher and pareve foods have been a boon to my allergic family and they taste good.