Social policy self-supe

The subject of this post is the social policy of the market.

The market has two missions. The secondary mission is to provide high quality Kosher food to local residents. But this is merely the means to advance the primary mission.

The primary mission is provide a refuge for community members who seek to escape the degeneracy of the surrounding culture of America. Much of the perversion there has begun to sink into Jewish society. Activities that not too long ago were illegal, and were not even discussed in polite society, are now routinely accepted.

For example, local Jewish schools technically forbid students from using marijuana. But as Rabbi Yitzchak Merkin acknowledged several years ago at a public meeting, the Yeshiva of Greater Washington had brought in someone to address the students on the issue of drug use because, to paraphrase the Headmaster, there was nothing to be gained by ignoring what is commonly knowledge, that some students are involved with, or at least have access to, street drugs.

The market is designed to be a safe haven where patrons can feel, with a certain degree of confidence, that they will not encounter people who are involved in activities that violate Halacha, or find themselves associating with those who disparage Halacha by not vigorously opposing:

– Giluy Arayos, including the mixing of unmarried young men and women in educational and social settings, as well as the mixing of married men and women that leads to excessive Sicha between men and women

-Street drug use, regardless of whether the drugs are legal or decriminalized; excessive alcoholic consumption

-Cover-ups of molestation by teachers and others responsible for the education and care of children

-The [1] goal to be accepted, especially the self-conscious shoehorning of [1] members into the fabric of daily community life.

-Marxism, as manifested by groups like [2] and [3].

To be sure, the market will not discriminate against any [1]. That would violate the precept of Dina D’Malchusa Dina. At the same time we will not exempt [1] from the rules against any dress, behavior or speech designed to lead to immorality, which will thus effectively exclude [1], in addition to promiscuous non-[1] members of the community.

Now that I hope the position of the market is clear, people have a basis for deciding whether or not to shop there.

For example, there is Shul in DC that very much goes out of its way to welcome [1] into the community. And here the market does not serve [1].

I can respect the integrity of the Rav of that Shul if he finds the market in general, and this letter in particular, a Chilul Hashem or at least insulting to some degree and the market undeserving of patronage.

From his perspective, those are legitimate conclusions on which to guide his congregants.

I also sympathize with anyone whose opposition to the market would stem from a feeling that this whole email is the product of a crazed mind.

For would not someone have to be insane to even think it is possible somehow to stop the onslaught of the [1] agenda? Why, the terms [1], [2], [3] cannot even be mentioned in a negative context without fearing one will be deplatformed, which is why I have redacted them. I don’t want any of this getting back to the online companies that provide me with internet services. On the other hand, transparency is the lynchpin of the market, so I’m not going to hide anything, either.

And if weren’t for the imperative to be open about it, I really don’t know if it would even be right to publicize the market’s mission.

Non-Jews who are beginning to speak up forcefully in order to slow the moral erosion of this country pay a high price sometimes beyond deplatforming: they get doxxed or worse, losing jobs and friends in some cases.

I couch my project in Torah terms, while the non-Jews I deal with on the subject are reacting based on emotion and logic: they perceive the encroachment of degeneracy as an attack on their families and the way they raise their children.

To put it another way, I align myself with G-d’s Will, while they, by and large, align themselves with an instinctive will to survive. But the result is the same: by acting publicly we strengthen the movement to push back against degeneracy.

Many of these moral non-Jews, have hatred they harbor towards liberal Jews whom they feel (with some justification) have opened the door to the downward death spiral of society, be it through entertainment, the media, academia, business and finance, and/or legal and political means. I am emboldened with the knowledge I am aligned with others who are similiarly startled and alarmed at the pace at which civility is disappearing from public discourse and replaced with conflict.

So again, I have no idea if what I’m doing is right according to the Torah and, even if it is, whether my implementation of the Torah is correctly done in the estimation of the Heavenly Court.

Market update 001

This post has been edited to reflect changes to the market location policy

Farmers Market Update
57780.03.10.4

Dear Friends,

The Kemp Mill Farmers Market is now active. The formal opening is still weeks away. At this point, though, some products are being sold.

The official name of the market is farmersmarket.pizza LLC; that is, the market website address plus the term “LLC”.

You can visit the website at
http://farmersmarket.pizza/

The main page has several graphics including an arch, a table, an oven, and the current phase of the moon. Clicking on each picture takes you to various pages of the website.

The arch goes to a page listing today’s market activities.

The table goes to a page listing tables at the market. Each listing is a link to a page about that table.

The oven goes to a page listing food sold at the market.

The moon picture goes to the calendar page.

The website has a rough unfinished feel to it because there is still little happening there. It is ready, however, to promote in this email to those who signed up to receive market updates. I am grateful to each of you for the encouragement that provided.

The market co-op is already providing flour to co-op members. The co-op lowers costs to members on select food items by buying food in bulk and passing on the savings.

The market has a pizza oven that can obtain temperatures over 900 degrees F to produce true Neopolitan style pizza. The market will be selling pizza made with whole grain Yashon flour grown and milled here in Maryland. We are especially pleased we were able to source a pizza box that is compostable in line with the goal of making the market as sustainable and regenerative as possible.

Items consistent with the market’s mission, like pure Castile soap and soapnut laundry detergent, are also for sale.

The market will be at 11200 Bybee Street, on the corner of Kenbrook Drive and Bybee Street. Orders placed online or by phone can be picked up from a table on the berm between the sidewalk and the street.

Peace,
Joe Orlow
farmersmarket.pizza LLC
240-850-5386
LLC@farmersmarket.pizza
http://farmersmarket.pizza
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Pizza box self-supe

PR-SC-12_01

There is actually a book on the subject of pizza boxes. According to Scott Wiener, the pizza box is an integral part of the pizza buying experience.

It seems to me a farmersmarket.pizza LLC pizza box should meet four conditions:
(1) The box has to protect the pizza during transport.
(2) The box has to vent off steam from the cooling pizza to avoid sogginess.
(3) The box has to “release” the pizza — no sticking
(4) The box should align with the goals of the market to serve natural, fresh, pure, organic and local food.

In regard to condition (4), questions have been raised in regard to the chemicals in the cardboard of pizza boxes, the coating on the cardboard, and whether these chemicals migrate into the food.

A few years ago box manufacturers began moving away from using certain chemicals out of an abundance of caution — or of strong evidence. Eventually the FDA outlawed those chemicals.

Which leaves us to wonder how much safer the alternative coatings used now are.

World Centric makes a pizza box that checks off most of the four conditions listed above, although not all: it is not local. They call their box a PizzaRound. I’m going to call the box a canteen, because a PizzaRound resembles a classic canteen bottle design.

The canteen material does not contain additives to the base material, such as coatings to ensure the box doesn’t get soggy and in turn inpart the taste of cardboard into the pizza. That cardboard taste may mean chemicals from the recycled box material are being introduced into the pizza.

The canteens are made from plant based materials and are similar to boxes used by Pizza Hut. Interestingly, canteens from long ago were also made from plant material, such as gourds.

Neat feature: canteens are oven safe up to 450 degrees F. That means the buyer can reheat pizza in their oven using the box.

The boxes are available through Amazon or direct from World Centric.

Here’s a link to a video demonstration of canteen features.

450px-Alamannic_Canteen

SOURCE

5% discount

The market gives a 5% discount with cash transactions.

The discount is in line with our goal to live slower.

Admittedly, some businesses are trying to avoid paying taxes when they say they prefer cash. Not here. Our finances are transparent.

Other businesses may prefer cash because they avoid the fees associated with some credit card, debit card, and PayPal transactions.

As noted, though, we offer the cash incentive because we feel it is slower.

688_BEP_Bldgs_About
Source of Graphic: http://www.moneyfactory.gov/about.html

Accounting self-supe

Self-supe at farmersmarket.pizza LLC even extends to customers being able to check the books. That’s right. For those customers who know that a blessing made over stolen food is not really a blessing at all, they can investigate our accounts to make sure the bookkeeping is up to snuff. We are not saying that a customer is to consider their food as stolen if the store where they got the food cooks its books as well as its food. Still, it is an act of piety I think to distance oneself as far as possible from questionable businesses.

Self-supe

The self-supervision, or self-supe, system was born out of my experience working in Kosher supervision.

There seems to be a tension between those that sell Kosher products, and the organizations they hire to certify their poducts. On one side is stores, caterers, manufacturers, etc. On the other side are Hashgachas.

The priority of the owner of a food business is to generate profit through sales of food. The priority of a Hashgacha is to to maintain the Kashrus of the food.

That power struggle of Owner VS Outsider can exist regardless of whether the owner is not Jewish or is Jewish; and if they are Jewish, regardless of whether they themselves keep Kosher or not.

The tension is good. Were the priorities of the business and Hashgacha to line up, that could be disastrous. Over focusing on Kashrus could lead to the business losing money and going out of business. Over focusing on profitability could mean Kashrus suffers.

Nevertheless, this balancing of competing priorities can end up wreaking havoc and creating cracks in the relationship between the business and the Hashgacha. This can lead to Kashrus violations.

Examples of this are varied. Ask anyone who works in Hashgacha and they’ll give you concrete illustrations of this principle. Or review the podcasts of the Orthodox Union. This stuff is not hidden, although I only realized what was going on once I got inside the Hashgacha world.

It’s been going on at least hundreds of years. Historical examples abound, also. Most famous cases are that of a Rabbi or Masghiach in charge of Kashrus, or considering being in charge of a Kashrus operation, who either discovers a violation or is rebuffed in his effort to investigate a potential violation. Some ruses were quite complex, however, like the fake wall case that required police disguised as sanitation workers to uncover.

At one point I was going to write an exposé based on my experiences. But then I started talking to other Mashgichim. They all had horror stories, some topping mine. I realized my book would be redundant. Anyone scratching the surface of the subject matter could find examples aplenty on their own. They would also likely get told the repetitive saw, “The other Hashgachos don’t do a good job. But ours does.”

In other words, what I’m saying is well known in the Kashrus industry. But it seems to me that the attitude found there is that no one admits they are part of the problem, only that they are part of the solution.

I worked in a store under Hashgacha. I was part of a team of Mashgichim who worked there on various shifts. The store had an in-house bakery that made products like their signature Challah. Some products the store sold were brought in from some of the legendary bakeries in New York.

A patron contacted the store. The man had bought a baked good from the store. He was not Jewish. He shopped at the store because his daughter was allergic to milk, and he knew that Pareve products have no milk.

The Pareve baked good he bought had chocolate. I think it was an éclair. Let’s talk a little about chocolate making. Apparently washing down chocolate machinery is tricky. So it’s challenging to make Pareve chocolate because it can’t be produced on the same machinery as milk chocolate and may need dedicated machinery. Hold on to that.

The man gave the baked good to his daughter. She ended up in the hospital. Or something like that. She had a bad reaction. The man called the store to tell them about it. The implication was clear: that baked good labeled Pareve wasn’t.

A likely culprit was the chocolate on it. Maybe it had some residue of milk. Maybe it was made with milk chocolate.

In my capacity as a store Mashgiach, I started investigating. The store argued that they weren’t responsible for the harm to the girl because the product had come from a reputable New York bakery and was clearly marked Pareve. It just went on from there. No one was interested in dealing with this. Not the store, not the delivery company, not the manufacturer, not the New York based Hashgacha, etc. Whether or not I contacted all of them, the bottom line was that there was no system set up to address breakdowns in the application of Halacha to real-world situations.

I eventually quit that job over an incident where a worker took it on himself to wash down some meat, without my permission, that I was letting sit after salting.

A central mission of this market is to ensure these kinds of incidents will not happen on my watch. At FarmersMarket.pizza LLC we work hard to be upfront with, and transparent to, our customers. And hopefully that will forestall major foul ups. Major foul ups often occur because the early warning signs were ignored.

I don’t think we’re going to sell food that is “more” Kosher than what anyone else is selling. The men and women who work in the Hashgacha industry are learned about Kashrus, and are experts in the technical aspects of food manufacturing, even on a highly engineered industrial scale.

But also be assured that stuff comes up all the time, and it’s rarely on purpose and with malevolent intent that things go wrong. It’s mostly inadvertent things like an ingredient substitution, or people just being lazy, taking a shortcut, trying to make a buck, trying to save a buck, poorly trained, poorly prepared, or just under pressure from the heat of the moment desperately trying to produce in order to save their job or make good on a promise. Sometimes a large company just experiments with a new process or makes adjustments to an old one. Some companies are huge. Changes in machinery and manufacturing are done without notifying everyone in the company. Unless a Mashgiach is there all the time, has access everywhere, and is constantly on alert, he can easily miss something awry that can go unchecked for years. Mistakes then propagate, as one bad ingredient or process is incorporated into other food. An example of this is chemicals used in plastic packaging or in tankers. To get an idea of what it takes to Kasher a tanker, check out this link.

What we do at the market is prepare food in a simple, straightforward manner. Because the ingredients are simpler and the process has only a few steps, it’s easy to monitor with vigilance, awareness, alertness, constant questioning, zeal, honesty, Fear of G-d, love of self, love of others.

Again: I am not saying anyone else who makes food and claims it is Kosher is selling unkosher food. I am not saying the market food is “more” Kosher. I am saying that there is less opportunity for the food we produce to be unkosher because we stick with simple ingredients and simple processes for preparing food with those ingrredients.

The nature of keeping the Torah is that mistakes happen. At the market, I can assure you that we will make Kashrus mistakes. I can say that with certainty even now as I write this months before our official opening.

We also recognize that mistakes lead to other mistakes. Mistakes are wake up calls. Finding a violation does not mean we throw up our hands and call it quits.

But — and this is the key point — if we find a mistake, fix it, and just move on without making a thorough reckoning of how that mistake happened in the first place and how we will introduce new methods to try and ensure we never get close to it happening again, then we can almost guarantee worse mistakes will happen in the future.

And the best technique we have in our toolbox to implement from the get-go is to track every ingredient and every process from beginning to end and to keep records and to be as open as possible. That’s the essence of self-supe.

The alternative method, to just keep a steady hand on the operation, and make sure violators get a severe warning not to repeat their violation, is what works in much of the Kosher food industry. But it doesn’t work for me, which is why we are here.

I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the opportunity to work in Hashgacha that my Rabbis gave me. I also acknowledge the many Mashgichim who have shared their experiences with me, as well as friends who told me of stories they personally heard from, or of, their Rabbeim, or stories they’ve reliably received of incidents from the past. I am grateful for the websites which have stories of current Kashrus violations and give a historical context to Kashrus violation. The story of the fake wall from about a hundred years ago is told by Rabbi Yistoel Belsky A”H on an OU podcast.

Special mention to my aunt who told me her father almost never let the family eat out because of what he knew about the Kashrus industry. I never met him , but he officiated at my parents’ wedding, and maybe in some way that I don’t understand that influenced me to become so adamant on this subject.

The long start

The following anecdote illustrates why it is taking so long to start the market

A few years ago the DC area was socked in by one of those blizzards that sometimes descend on Shabbos. I headed out to the Silver Spring Jewish Center.

I was plodding down the middle of Monticello Avenue between Lamberton Drive and Kersey Road etching a path on the untouched snow. The flakes were blowing right in my face, so I kept my head down, every once in a while lifting it to get my bearings. At one point I had veered so far off from a straight path that I ended up going sideways. I made a course correction and carried on.

A few hours later the snow had stopped and I was returning from Shul. To my horror and chagrin, a number of people who followed me that morning, or who were going in the opposite direction on Monticello after me, had used the zig-zag path in the snow I had made. I guess it was easier to just follow in my footsteps than to pioneer a shorter and more direct path.

By walking in a lost and roundabout way I had inadvertently led others to walk in a lost, roundabout way.

I have had to hack a path through a confusing jungle of County departments and regulations to get the market rolling. I want to keep it on the straight path. Any initial crookedness may get perpetuated down the road. So I’m going slow and steady.