couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “vegetables”

Violent Virus Destroying Israeli Tomatoes- what to do?

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:

tomato diseases: tomato mosaic virus

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.

Source: Violent Virus Destroying Israeli Tomatoes – Israel News

Advertisements

No more procrastination!

Today is Friday.  Rosh Hashana is Wednesday night.  Are you ready?  If not, use this list to help you get organized for the new year.

School

If you have school-aged children, know that there are only three days of school next week- Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.   Right now- make sure you have three sets of school outfits washed and ready, three sets of meals for school, and three water bottles if you can. (We fill the bottle about 1/4 – 1/3 full with water and put it in the freezer.  In the morning we add cold water and the water stays cold all day.)  Make sure they don’t need to bring anything special to school for the holiday- if so, put it on the calendar and get it now.  Now hopefully you can “forget” about school for now.

Errands

Do you have any last-minute haircut appointments, doctor appointments etc. to schedule?  Be efficient- call  at night and leave a message or book on the internet.  I was surprised to call a hair salon and discover that they have a full messaging service at 11:00 at night!

Shmita

Get your last minute gardening/pruning/fertilizing done this week.  If you signed up for Otzar HaAretz, you should get your card by Sunday.  If not, call them at 073-2206323.  For more information, read my previous post.  Try and get as much produce as you can now before the prices go up after the first of Tishrei.

Rosh Hashana

First things first- make a list of what still needs to be done.  Break it down into the following categories:

  1. Guests– if you have, confirm if they have allergies.   Get the guest rooms and bathrooms ready.  What time are they coming?  Do you have to pick them up?  If so, from where?  If you are a guest, find out what you can bring/make/do to help your host.  If you really want to make your hostess happy, offer to bring some already-seeded rimon 🙂
  2. Going away?– if you are, make sure your neighbor has your key in case of emergency, timers are set, pet/plant sitters arranged.
  3. Laundry– make sure your tablecloths, towels, linens and holiday clothes are washed.   If you have a European machine, you know how how long it takes so plan your time accordingly.
  4. Table– do you have enough tables and chairs?  if not, arrange to borrow from a gamach or a friend now.  Do you have enough tablecloths, silverware, plates, serving dishes, napkins, bowls and cups?  If not, figure out how many disposable items you will need to purchase and get it soon. We found very nice biodegradable plasticware that looks just like the Solo brand and wasn’t too expensive.  Don’t forget candles, matches and long-lasting candles.
  5. Food– Make an inventory of your freezer and start planning meals if you haven’t already.  We all need to purchase fruits and vegetables this week- don’t forget apples, rimon, dates and a new fruit.  Most stores are open Saturday night and have extended hours this week to get your last minute shopping done.  If you use fresh chicken, don’t forget that because the Muslim and Jewish holidays collide this year, there won’t be fresh chicken being produced from Sunday-Monday until after the holidays.  Pack your freezer now!  You might be tempted to shop for groceries online, but just remember that you are one of thousands so expect many items to be out of stock.  You don’t want your order to come Tuesday night missing half the items and you have to run out Wednesday morning for them.
  6. Clothing–  do you have enough for a three day holiday?  I know my son already outgrew the last set of clothing we bought him and we have so far been unsuccessful in dragging him in to purchase another -gasp- three outfits.
  7. Kids– make a list of everything they can do and have them do it.  If it makes your life easier, bribe them.  We have offered 10 agorot- 1 shekel per chore (depending on their ages; can be done multiple times) or three levels of rewards- ice cream, pizza, movie depending on how many they do and whether they work together or not.   I will post some recipes/activities to keep them busy Wednesday while you finish your last minute chores.
  8. Beit knesset– if you go, do you have your seat/membership paid for?  If you can, find out where your seat is beforehand so it will be easier to find it during services.  Do you have enough machzorim?  Do you know where they are?  If you are not going, do you know who can blow the shofar for you?   If your beit knesset has a tzedaka campaign during the holidays (selling honors or having someone come in from another agency), budget now what you are willing/able to spend.   Discuss it with your husband/wife so there are no surprises.

That’s it for now-don’t forget to take breaks and eat healthy!

Aliyah tip #8- Are you sure that food is organic?

Making the commitment to eat only organic food is not something easily done when you have a tight budget.  Unfortunately, healthier food seems to always be more expensive than processed junk food, and organic produce is no exception.  Israel is a major exporter of organic produce to the EU- 13% of our exported produce is organic, which translated to 85,504 tons of vegetables, 2192 tons of fruits, and 2230 tons of citrus in 2013.   It might surprise you to learn that until 2008 there was no legislation governing organic produce- for example what conditions it can be grown under, what products can be used on organic fruits and vegetables and what symbols are acceptable to identify organic produce.  Since the new law was passed in 2005 (it did not come into effect until 2008) these issues have all been addressed as well as a penalty for falsely labeling a product as organic when it is not.  The law has been written in English and Hebrew so feel free to follow the link and read for yourself.

All produce that is certified organic in Israel must have the Ministry of Agriculture’s symbol, shown here:

In addition, each certified organic product must have the symbol of the certifying agency that inspected the operator.  There are three approved agencies and their symbols are shown below.

In order to ensure that these foods are truly produced without unapproved chemicals such as pesticides, the Ministry of Agriculture samples fresh fruits and vegetables as well as processed foods such as bread and rice cakes and submits them for laboratory analysis.  The results of those tests have recently been published and it is good news for organic consumers.  When products were first tested in 2009, 24% showed the presence of unapproved chemicals.  In 2010 the percentage dropped to 8.6%; 2011 went down further to 3.6%, 2012 went back up to 6.8% and 2013 again showed a downturn to 3.8%.

Since Israel exports organic produce to the EU, it is subject to periodic auditing from the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission.  In 2013 they performed an audit on the production of organic produce in Israel.  The full report can be found on their web site along with the Israeli government’s response.  Overall they were satisfied with the Israeli legislation (which is based on the European legislation) and its implementation.  They felt that Israel’s sampling technique and the amounts sampled should be improved as well as the quality of inspections performed at the producer level.  They did find the presence of certain illegal pesticides which the Israeli government agreed to enforce more strongly.  One comment I did find disturbing was that the Europeans were dissatisfied that “foreign” produce was intermingling with Israeli produce and being labeled as Israeli produce.  What is this “foreign” produce?  Produce that comes from the West Bank- Yehuda and Shomron.  What was Israel’s response?  That this matter is an issue for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and the European Commission to decide.  Once it is agreed upon at that level, it will be implemented on the “ground level”.

For a list of products that can be used on organic produce, click on the Organic Pesticide Publication (Hebrew/English)

Sources: Ynetsimun_tozeret_organit

Rosh Hashana is coming- cook your vegetable dishes now!

Normally I start warning you in July about the impending collision between the beginning of school and the month of non-stop holidays.  This year we have all been somewhat distracted by kidnappings, Tzuk Eitan, and more.  With the 72 hour truce currently holding, I will be cautiously optimistic and begin my persistent reminders.

Why do we need to start thinking about Rosh Hashana now?  For those of us with children, the beginning of the school year is a very stressful time- learning schedules, getting all of the supplies/clothing/lunches organized, finding chugim, babysitters, tzaharonim and more.  The last thing we need to worry about is making meals for a month of holidays!

This year there is another issue that needs to be addressed- shmita.  However you decide to hold, shmita invariably results in increased prices for fruits and vegetables and occasionally (unfortunately) the guest who doesn’t hold by your standards.  For this reason I recommend you start stocking your freezer with as many vegetable dishes as you can- potato kugels, pashtidot, apple pie, etc.  This way you are taking advantage of the currently low prices and are using vegetables and fruits that don’t have holiness- kedusha.

What vegetables are cheap this week? Potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, and onions have been 2.90 shekels/kg in several stores.  Last year I posted my freezable potato kugel recipe; today I will post my carrot cake/kugel recipe.  This recipe makes 4-5 English cake tins depending on the size of the tin.  They freeze with ease for several months.

Carrot Kugel (Pareve)

Adapted from The Kosher Palette

Ingredients:

1 bag of carrots

3 cups of whole wheat flour (even if your family doesn’t like whole wheat, this is a great recipe to hide it in) or white flour

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups white sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups canola oil

6 large eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Peel and boil carrots until they are completely soft.  Mash them with a fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork until completely combined.  Pour into pans about halfway full and bake in a 180C oven for 45 minutes (for turbo drop to about 20 minutes).  Kugel is cooked when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Don’t  forget this step- it is hard to tell if they are cooked through without confirming)  Wrap well with aluminum foil when cool and freeze.

Feel free to post your TNT (tried n’ true) freezable fruit/vegetable recipes as well!

Mega’s 5 shekel vegetable sale 9-16 Sept 2012

It’s back!  Go to Mega, pick up a special bag and fill it with carrots, white/red cabbage, cucumbers, onions, eggplants, red or white potatoes and pay only 5 shekels!  For YOU members only.  You must spend 250 shekels in the store, not including the bag of vegetables.  If you spend 500 shekels, you can buy 2 bags of vegetables for 5 shekels each.

20120908-230310.jpg

Chetzi Chinam weekly sale

Mega sales in Yavneh

Here are some super sales in honor of the grand opening of Mega Bool in Yavneh- enjoy!

Mega sales this week

Bar Kol’s sales

Shufersal Sheli is finally competitive!

Shufersal Sheli, the premium supermarket in the Shufersal line, comparable to Mega BaIr, finally has some prices worth advertising.

  • Juicing oranges, white potatoes, white and purple cabbage- 1.99/kg
  • Carrots, celery, onion, and anise- 2.99/kg
  • Garlic and champaign mushrooms- 2 for 10
  • Frozen sole fillet- 19.99/kg
  • Frozen salmon fillet- 49.99/kg
  • Argentinian aged shoulder beef (from frozen beef)- 39.99/kg

The fruits and vegetables are limited to 4kg or 4 units per person.

Expires 21 Dec 2011!!

Post Navigation