We have all been frustrated by the high prices for tomatoes and other vegetables this season. Tomatoes have been especially hard hit because of a virus in the Negev which is destroying entire tomato greenhouses. The virus is called tomato mosaic virus (also known as tobacco mosaic virus), and infected fruits look like this:
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this extremely hardy disease. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service,
Unlike fungicidal chemicals used to control fungal diseases, to date there are no efficient chemical treatments that protect plant parts from virus infection. Additionally, there are no known chemical treatments used under field conditions that eliminate viral infections from plant tissues once they do occur. Practically speaking, plants infected by viruses remain so. Tobacco mosaic virus is the most persistent plant virus known. It has been known to survive up to 50 years in dried plant parts. Therefore, sanitation is the single most important practice in controlling tobacco mosaic virus.
At this point, I am feeling quite sorry for the tomato farmers in the Negev. One person, however, is not:
The shortages on the shelves are a disgraceful occurrence,” said MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), the chairman of the committee. Even before the committee convened Cabel put out a statement saying that he viewed the situation very gravely and that he intended investigating the truth of the situation and pointing a finger at those responsible for it. Cabel recalled that the committee had already discussed the matter two months ago and warned about shortages and price rises during the Holidays period but despite his warning not enough had been done to prevent this serious situation. (Globes)
He said this last week, when people already knew about tomato mosaic virus running rampant in the Negev greenhouses. I am not sure how you can call a virus “a disgraceful occurrence”, but I guess there must be one conspiracy theorist in every Knesset.
Since this disease will not be clearing up any time soon (estimates are that supplies will be back to normal around December), last month the Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Bayit HaYehudi) approved the tax-free import of tomatoes and cucumbers. He did that to ensure a constant supply of vegetables throughout the holidays, but this move was most certainly not the most helpful for consumers. Why? First of all, as we have seen time and time again, the supermarket chains don’t lower their prices when they purchase tax-free food- they keep the prices high and swallow the profits themselves. Secondly, I personally would like to know if I am buying produce from Israel, Jordan, or some other country. In other countries it is a law that there must be a sign that states the origin of all produce sold in supermarkets. This is called COOL- Country of Origin Labeling.
Israel, on the other hand, does not have that requirement in their legislation. Therefore, the consumer can’t tell if the product is an imported, tax-free product which should be priced lower, or an Israeli product. This again helps the supermarkets hide information that consumers would use to evaluate the price of an item.
If this bothers you as much as it does me, write to The Israel Consumer Council- HaMoetza HaYisraelit L’Tzarchanut. Unfortunately, the complaint form is only in Hebrew. While you are there, tell them that you support their proposed legislation to limit the markup of fruits and vegetables by supermarket chains:
הצעת חוק פיקוח על רווחי שיווק בתוצרת חקלאית
Read more about the proposed legislation on their web site. You might also want to write to other Knesset members expressing your support for the law.
Another place to make yourself heard is by supporting COOL legislation in Israel. In my next post, Setting the (food) standard in Israel, I will tell you how.
The investigative reporters at Makor Rishon went shopping for Branflakes at Rami Levy. The 500 gram package cost 18.49 shekels and the 750 gram package cost 29.99 shekels. That means that the smaller package costs 3.70 shekels per 100 grams and the larger, “economy size” package costs 4 shekels per 100 grams! That is some economy!
When the reporters when to the service counter, they were told that the price was set by Telma and not Rami Levy. They then called the main number for Rami Levy, and were told the reason for the discrepancy was because the smaller package was on sale, and that the regular price is 20 shekels. When the reporters said that there was no sign regarding the sale, Rami Levy said it was an unadvertised sale. They also said that they are trying to get Telma to lower the price of the larger package.
What is the moral of this story?
Always check prices and don’t rely on the company’s word that the “economy size” is really cheaper.
According to the law, a retailer must provide, along with the price of the item, the price of the item per a specific weight . It is generally per 100 grams. That is supposed to help the consumer compare prices.
The Ministry of Trade does prosecute retailers that do not provide this information- see my post on Rami Levy for example.
In my last post listing the sales of the week, you might notice that NOBODY has sufganiot on sale. Why not? Because we are all so desperate to get our hands on that scrumptious ball of fried dough that we will pay any price to get it.
Some of the prices, however, are as outrageous as the flavors. (Bamba?!?!Pistachio?!?!?)
Before you go and spend your hard-earned money in the bakery, read today’s ultimate frugal food shopper’s guide to sufganiot.
The best thing about these sufganiot is their price- 5 sufganiot for 20 shekels. They are the same size as the other gourmet sufganiot. Although the kids liked them, the adults found them to be overly fried and the cream (katzefet) had a chemical taste. Kosher rabbanut.
Conclusion- unless you are a health freak (and if you are, you shouldn’t be eating doughnuts), these are only a good option for the kids.
English Cake sells three types of sufganiot- large sufgania (6 shekels), small sufgania (4.50 shekels), and “doughnut” (8 shekels), which is the hole-in-the-middle shaped doughnut. We got there just as the store opened and enjoyed a very soft, warm, traditional sufgania. The “doughnut” looked good, but was relatively pareve tasting. Kosher l’mehadrin.
Conclusion- if you are a true Zionist, get your sufganiot here.
This very famous bakery in Tel Aviv prices their sufganiot according to how they are cooked- baked doughnuts cost 7 shekels and fried sufganiot cost 6 shekels. If you buy 5 you get 1 free. The “coffee and ma’afah” also applies to sufganiot and costs 16 shekels. Their sufganiot are soft and filled with all sorts of dairy goodness. Kosher rabbanut.
Recommedation- if you need a sugar and caffeine boost, this is a mighty fine place to get it. If you need to save your money, hold out for their oznei haman…
This Jerusalem-based chain is one of the few big ones that is Kosher l’mehadrin.
Maybe it is me, but their chocolate looks very anemic to me. Their gourmet sufganiot are 7 shekels and their regular sufganiot are 4 shekels. This store has hands-down the best names for their sufganiot- names such as “Tutit” (Strawberry Shortcake) and “Yeladudes” (Kids), as well as the wackiest flavors- Bamba, marshmallow, and almond.
The chocolate I thought anemic was not bad, but there was one major flaw in their gourmet sufganiot- NO FILLING!
Conclusion- If you aren’t mehadrin, there are much better deals out there.
These are Israel’s version of Dunkin Donuts. They come in pareve and dairy. Kosher rabbanut.
We rated them very good (if you like Dunkin Donuts). Price- 3 for 20 shekels.
They don’t have a store of their own, but you can find them in these stores.
High class doughnuts, dairy and very rich. They come in flavors such as halva, belgian chocolate, pistachio, whipped cream, white chocolate with a berry chaser (a syringe filled with fruit syrup), and “Vodka Double Espresso”- chocolate with an espresso chaser. What we like the most about these sufganiot is that they are filled with lots of filling, which is not standard for Israeli sufganiot.
Something I have never seen elsewhere in Israel is a list of how many calories each sufgania has, ranging from 170 (jelly) to 317 (chocolate ganache with a chaser). I am not sure if I like knowing how many calories are in my sufgania or not. After comparing, however, the amount of calories in Dunkin Donuts doughnuts (260-550 calories) or Krispy Kreme doughnuts (200-450 calories), I think Roladin has given me yet another reason to stay in Israel.
Price: 8 shekels for the “standard” gourmet sufganiot, 9 for the chasers, 4.50 for traditional jelly and 5.50 for traditional ribat chalav (caramel). Kosher rabbanut.
Conclusion- if you want to splurge, this is THE place to go. They are by far the best sufganiot on the market.
Yes, you can compare doughnuts on Zap! On their web site, Shufersal Yashir’s’ sufganiot cost 4.99 each and Mega B’Internet sells them for 3.99. As you can see, they are the standard sufgania.
The cheapest alternative of them all:
You know what I am about to say, right? Make it yourself!
This blog is by definition not a recipe site, but I welcome everyone to post their favorite sufganiot recipe. I personally have very little success with yeast recipes, so I use one with leben. And if anyone has a TNT method for getting that filling in without (a) destroying the doughnut (b) squirting it out the other side, or (c) having it shoot back in your face, I would be ecstatic to hear.
Finally, these prices are based on the Modiin-Tel Aviv area. If the prices in your area are better or worse, let me know! If you found a great sufganiot bargain, please pass it on to the other readers!
I will now go run around the universe to start burning off all those sufganiot calories…;
No matter how hard they try, Israel does not have a replacement for cheam cheese. “Gvinat shamenet” just doesn’t cut it. Cheesecake here is a sorry affair, too wet and not nearly as firm as it should be. Holy Bagel carries “gvinat shamenet” and “gvinat philadelphia”. Once a year for Shavuot I suck it up and buy it- I don’t usually ask visitors to bring perishable items.
Yisrael HaYom confirmed today what we all knew- another outrageous price. For a 226 grams package, you will pay:
United States- 9.2 shekels
England- 7.9 shekels
Israel- 19 shekels
I really like Pringles. All the flavors, all the time. Do I buy them here? Only when the kids deserve a special treat. For potato product, they are just too darn expensive, and there are perfectly acceptable alternative products here.
Yisrael HaYom checks out 180 grams containers of Pringles today.
United States- 6.6 shekels
England- 11.7 shekels
Israel- 11.3 shekels
Today’s pictorial post by Yisrael HaYom is not food, I know, but is also something that is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive here. Why? I don’t know. I tried the Israeli brands- worthless. This one is another stocker-upper.
United States- 14.2 shekels
England- 17.7 shekels
Israel- 30 shekels!
One of the few things I require my American visitors to bring is toothpaste. I cannot for the life of me understand why toothpaste cost so much here. Once I run out of my stash, I know I will have to switch to the Israeli brands to save money, but so far that time hasn’t come.
Yisrael HaYom’s pictorial price comparison today is for a 100ml tube of Colgate Total toothpaste.
United States- 11 shekels
England- 13.5 shekels
Israel- 19 shekels
Yisrael Hayom is running a very cute and to-the-point pictorial comparing prices of various food items in the US, England, and Israel.
Today: A 2 liter plastic container of 3% milk
United States- 7.4 shekels
England- 8.8 shekels