Wash self-supe

The Naturoli company sells liquid soapnut detergent formulated from soapnuts by their own in-house chemist.

However, soapnuts are a fruit, and the liquid detergent is thus a fruit juice. Fruit juice needs a preservative if it’s not vacuum packed. Soapnut detergent is not vacuum packed, and even if it was, once opened I would think it would have to be refrigerated. So a little amount of food grade preservative is added to the detergent to keep it fresh.

In a bid to be the most natural possible, a few years ago Naturoli switched to using grapeseed extract as a preservative.

This presents a Kashrus concern. Just like wine needs Kosher supervision, grapeseed extract requires supervision in order to derive benefit from it.

We use the Naturoli soapnut powder which is ground from soapnuts. Nothing is added to the powder.

Equipment self-supe

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Source: Montana Canvas


F A R M E R S   M A R K E T   . P I Z Z A   L L C
D B A
B .    S t r e e t    F a r m e r s    M a r k e t

Oven
Here flat bread, pizza, and Matza are made.

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Pizza box self-supe

Source: Ooni


Pasta machine
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Stove
Soups from sprouted beans and lentils, served in mason jars

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Granolarium
Granola and quick breads, such as carrot bread.
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Essential oils manufacturing essential oils and fresh hydrosol. Cf. this link and this link.


Grill

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Sink
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Flour self-supe

We strive to be transparent in the realms of Kashrus, hygiene, and finance.

At the intersection of of hygiene and Kashrus is the issue of bugs. At the market, we sift the flour to check for bugs. If we find the occasional bug, we will discard it and use the rest of the flour from the bag. If there seems to be a severe infestation, we discard the flour from that bag. We also automatically discard bags that show obvious signs of infestation, such as trails or webbing.

Based on my research, just about all flour is subject to infestation. If you’ve never found a bug in your flour, it may because it was removed at the field, mill, or store using a chemical or mechanical means to remove it.

My using a mechanical means to remove bugs is not conceptually different than the way commercial facilities remove bugs. Some of the flour I buy is locally produced at farms that use minimal pesticides and is milled at places that do not necessarily have the means to do the kind of fine sifting and checking that larger facilities do, and that I do.

This may all seem disgusting. And may drive away potential customers. But after working in the food industry and witnessing what goes on behind the scenes sometimes, I made up my mind I would hide NOTHING from my customers if I ever merited to have my own company.

This approach falls within the teaching of don’t do to others what you find hateful to yourself. And I strongly dislike being sold food from a company that hides its standards from the public.

■ Pizza in the Torah

These are just some thoughts of mine.

The Navi tells us that an angel delivered a pizza to Eliyahu (I Kings 19:6). The term the Navi uses to describe what I refer to as “pizza” is “Ugas Retzaphim”. Ugas Retzaphim might translate as “pavement cake”.

Artscroll translates Ugas Retzaphim as “coal-baked cake.” It seems to me this would be a flour based food baked directly on dying coals, or on a stone heated by coals that have then been moved to one side of the stone. Relief paintings in Egyptian tombs show bread being baked on hot ashes. Bedouins still utilize this technique. People who go camping also bake this way as can be found on some Youtube channels

link:Article on bread in ancient times

Ugas Retzaphim can also possibly mean baked on the wall of the oven, as with a Tanur oven.

This is essentially how Neopolitan pizza is made: it is baked on a hot stone next to an intense source of heat.

Similarly, Mishna Baba Kama, Chap. 2, Mishna 3 mentions a Charara, which the Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura translates as a cake baked “on” coals. The term “on” can mean “on top of”, but it can also be translated as “beside” or “above.” The case there in the Mishna refers to a coal stuck to the cake, presumably because the cake was in direct contact with the coal from being on top of it, or right beside it.

Mishna Shabbos, Chap. 1, Mishna 10 mentions Charara Al Gabei Gechalim (Charara on top of coals), and there the Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura translates Charara as pavement cakes. In fact, his explanation in that section makes it evident that the Charara is baking on the earthenware surface of the oven, not directly in contact with the coals despite the Mishna saying on top of.

According to the Jastrow Dictionary גבי can mean “towards”. This seems to fit in well — almost too well — with the way I’d like to understand על גבי גחלים. Thus, the cake was baked on (besides) the coals. This would make eminent sense.

The floor of the oven is first heated with coals. Then the coals are raked to one side. Then the cake is placed on the floor, which bakes from below. Meanwhile the cake is in proximity to the coals which bake the exposed side and top surfaces from above.

As mentioned, this interpretation is the only way the Rav from Bartenura’s commentary seems to make sense: otherwise how can the cake be said to be in contact with the pavement if it’s literally resting on top of the dying coals? Furthermore, how would the top of the cake get done if it’s resting on the dying coals?

The Salad Pizza


F A R M E R S M A R K E T . P I Z Z A L L C
D B A
B . S t r e e t F a r m e r s M a r k e t

I wanted to sell organic pizza here in Kemp Mill. The project had to be profitable, but that was not all. I wanted it to evoke the kind of off-beat atmosphere found in my hometown of Takoma Park.

The way to do that, I decided, was to sell at a farmers market. Since there is none in Kemp Mill, I had to start one. The pizzeria would be the core business, the anchor tent of the market. (This reason complements the legal reasoning laid out in FAQ that led to my starting a farmers market.)

I needed a benchmark, some way of measuring when I had found a niche in the local pizza scene. I would know when I had jumpstarted the farmers market when salad pizza would be on the menu.


The Salad Pizza recipe:

The dough and sauce are like a regular marinara pizza (cheeseless pizza). The sauce should be laid on thick.

Allow the pizza to cool completely.

Slice iceberg lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onion. The vegetables are not cooked. Cover the pie with veggies until you can’t see the crust, but not too thickly.

Make an italian dressing: oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, oregano (required), garlic powder (recommended), basil (optional).

Caution: dont make it too tangy with the vinegar or pepper.

Sprinkle the dressing over the pizza to taste.

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Policy self-supe

The market is built on the principle of secession in place. It is not our job to reform a degenerate and perverse society in a state of moral erosion and decay. Rather, we simply make our place as honorable as we can. We pull back without giving an inch.

IN other words, we self cancel, deplatform, and dox. We”ll quit a job rather than compromise our principles, and embrace a boycott of our business if it means not having to serve those who want to destroy us.

The downward carnival ride spiral of a clown world, whether the engine of that spiral be entertainment, the media, academia, business and finance, and/or legal and political means, is something we are distant from and bemused by.

Maybe we have a wrong approach. Could be. But I won’t let ignorance justify my finding refuge in passivity, because while sitting and doing nothing is sometimes the best policy, I can’t believe just freezing up will do much good as evil engulfs us.

Pizza box self-supe

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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 B. Street Farmers Market 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 pizza canteen, because a PizzaRound resembles a classic canteen bottle design.

The pizza 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

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 products. On one side is stores, caterers, food 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 over that food business is to to maintain the Kashrus of the food being sold.

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. Overfocusing on Kashrus could lead to the business losing money and going out of business. Overfocusing 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. 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 he bought at the store 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.

Here is a similar case where the girl died.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/23-year-old-dies-from-allergic-reaction-to-dairy-ice-cream-at-meat-restaurant/

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 B. Street Farmers Market 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 within the company including their computers, 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 ingredients.

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. [Edit: this prediction was fulfilled.]

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.

■ Organic growth: the long road

One Shabbos the DC area was socked in by a blizzard. I started out from Bybee Street, heading to the Silver Spring Jewish Center in the morning. I slogged along on roads packed with snow and mostly untouched by pedestrians or vehicles.

There I was plodding down the middle of Monticello Avenue between Lamberton Drive and Kersey Road etching a path through the snow.

The snowflakes were blowing right in my face so I kept my head down. Every once in a while I lifted 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. I was returning from Shul.

To my horror and chagrin, a number of people — judging by the now widened and packed down path — 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 earlier. I guess it was easier for them to just trace my footsteps rather than to pioneer a shorter and more direct route.

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 this 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.