Showing posts with label Kosher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kosher. Show all posts

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Beyond Burger: Taste Test

Beyond Meat - Kashrut
Back in Israel, I was quite interested in trying a Beyond Burger.  They are, of course, all the rage these days but they are not yet certified Kosher in Toronto.  Sounds like more of a financial negotiation with the Va'ad HaKashrut than anything else - but I have no inside information about that.  I imagine it is simply a matter of time until they are Kosher certified in Canada

In Israel, they are certified Kosher-Pareve (non-dairy) and have supervision from both Circle K and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.  So that is certainly good enough for us.

It was a bit of a challenge to find them.  Websites indicated that they were available in Rami Levi supermarkets but we had no luck finding them there.  Same for Shopersol.  They are available on-line for door to door delivery - but we wound up buying them from "Nitzat HaDuvdevan" - an organic health food store on Ostrovski Street in Ra'anana.  They cost 33 shekels for a package of 2 which is about $6.00 each in Canadian dollars.  They are sold frozen here.  In Canada, they are apparently sold in the fresh meat section in supermarkets.

As you might know, Beyond Meat has been marketing itself as a meat substitute with a taste that is close enough to meat for people to enjoy a completely plant based burger but not feel that they are missing out.  Ingredients include pea protein, canola and coconut oils and a variety of other chemicals.  In terms of nutritional content, a burger weighs 113 grams.  One burger has 300 calories, 20 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fibre, 20 grams of fat (8 saturated) and 360 grams of sodium.  No sugar.

Beyond Burgers on the grill
So I gather that the fat, sodium and protein contents might be comparable to a 1/4 pound meat burger.  The fibre content would be higher in the Beyond Burger.  The fat content would be higher than some burgers but that might depend on the meat.

The company recommends thawing the burgers before cooking them.  So we did that, mostly.  It then recommends cooking them on a grill or in a pan for about 3 minutes per side.  Since they were not fully thawed, I probably cooked them for about 5 minutes per side on the barbecue.

They do actually look quite a bit like meat hamburgers.  I had heard that they "bleed" on the grill and get very juicy like meat burgers.  I can't say I really saw this when I cooked them but they were reasonably juicy.

But our samplers were impressed.  The verdict was that they were quite close to the taste and texture of a meat burger.  They were reasonably tasty, easy to prepare, Kosher-parve (which means that they can be eaten with anything - depending on how you cook them).  Two tasters were duly impressed and were definitely prepared to try them again.  Admittedly, this was a small sample size.

One member of our group, who does not eat red meat, did not want to try them since they seemed too much like a real burger.  It is certainly fair to recognize that vegetarians who are not looking to replicate a "meat experience" might not be interested in something that is designed to taste close to meat.

Personally, I am not a vegetarian though I try to limit the amount of red meat that I eat, primarily for health reasons.  Every now and then (or sometimes more often), I enjoy a nice steak or a good burger but I do think about it a lot and sometimes wonder whether I should try a vegetarian diet (from the ethical side of things, rather than purely from the health side).

So from a health point of view, I am not sure that these Beyond  Burgers are that much healthier than eating red meat.  They have some fibre but the fat content is quite high as is the saturated fat content.  The sodium level is high but not obscene.  I would have felt a lot better about eating these regularly if the fat content was about half, the saturated fat content about one-third and the sodium content lower.

From a nutritional view point, it might be better to have some fish, some chicken or  a soy based main course.

From an ethical point of view, it is certainly nice to have the option of eating a burger that provides an enjoyable culinary experience while knowing that "no innocent animals were harmed in the process..."

Cooked Beyond Burger
I would be interested in trying some other types of these new veggie burgers from competitors - such as  the Impossible Burger.  There are several different companies, worldwide, who continue to develop all kinds of alternative burgers.  I would think that some of them will soon find a way to reduce the fat and sodium content and perhaps even increase the fibre.

But overall - here is the cooked product.  The verdict was positive and we are willing to try them some more.  At $6 each, they are probably not that much more expensive than buying ready made frozen burgers from our local butcher.  I hope that they will soon be certified Kosher in Canada from my friends and family there.  I am likely to include them as a viable dinner option on either side of the ocean. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blackberry Z10 in Israel: Not Kosher?

Blackberry Z10
For: April 1, 2013

Although the new Blackberry Z10 is apparently selling well in some markets, especially Canada, it is likely to face some hurdles in Israel unless it is re-branded.

During Hol-Hamoed this week, Rabbi Tolayim, a Satmar Rabbi from Mea She'arim, issued a pasuk barring his followers from using blackberries.

"It is well known that there is an increasingly high risk of insect infestation with blackberries and blueberries, particularly when they are cleaned without proper supervision.  These berries are also highly susceptible to worm attacks which can destroy everything from the inside out.  As a result, we must insist that Torah-observant Jews refrain from using blackberries, blueberries or similar devices unless they are under proper full-time supervision."

While berries can be thoroughly cleaned and will then be Kosher approved, they must be soaked completely in water, agitated and then rinsed.  This is obviously impractical for most smart phones.  I can tell you this from personal experience, having witnessed the tragic demise of a family member's cell phone that went through a washing machine cycle.  (No names released here....).  In any event, the Star-K guidelines for cleaning blackberries properly can be found here.

Rabbi Tolayim has asked the Knesset to issue an outright ban on these devices.  He has also been in contact with newly elected Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett to ask about Israeli government involvement in a negotiated settlement.  The ultra-orthodox have apparently proposed other names for the device that would lower the risk of contamination.  "Grape" was considered for use in Israel since Israel has so many vineyards.  However, they quickly determined that these devices would be impractical as they could only be turned on or off by observant Jews.  "Strawberrry" was rejected as it would have created some of the same concerns as with the other berries, especially if the device was available in a green colour.  According to some Kashruth agencies, the top (green part) of the strawberry should be always be removed before the strawberry is served (or used, in this case).  "Orange" was not approved as it is already the name of one of Israel's largest cell phone companies. 

The updated, rabbincally approved list of alternate names currently includes "date" ("tamar"), "pepper,"("pilpel") "watermelon,"("avatiach") "celery" ("selery") and "carrot." ("gezer").  It is unclear which name Rabbi Tolayim and his followers will favour and whether Blackberry (formerly RIM) will agree to a special re-branding for the Israeli market.  However, according to spokespeople from Blackberry, avatiach was too much of a mouthful.  "Celery" was considered too bland and carrot might evoke red-head ("jinji") jokes in Israel.  It is expected that "pepper" and "date" (pilpel and tamar) will be the frontrunners although some Israeli ex-Montrealers have already raised concerns about calling anything a "pepper."

This whole controversy comes less than a year after Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a Jerusalem Rabbi, ordered his followers to burn their Iphones, as reported in the Huffington Post here and the Jerusalem Post, here. I assure you that these postings are not fabricated.  You can't make some of this stuff up!

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
Meanwhile, Samsung has apparently escaped much of this nomenclature controversy in Israel, which bodes well for the Galaxy 4,which is due to be released shortly.  Despite the ongoing controversy over the age of the universe, the Galaxy has not attracted as much rabbinical condemnation as the other devices.   

Israelis can take comfort that the new Minister of Religious Affairs in Israel will come from the Yesh Atid political party.  This is likely to lead to the liberalization of many religious laws in Israel.  It is anticipated that obstacles to the sale of blackberries, apples, blueberries and other fruit-named smartphones will soon be eliminated.

Now that we are about half way through pesach, perhaps the same logic will apply to the eating of kitniyot (legumes).  Perhaps by next year, with the change to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ashkenazi Rabbis everywhere (or at least throughout Israel) will realize that the kitniyot ban has nothing to do with hametz and that there is no legitimate legal (halachic) reason for banning corn, rice and various types of beans from the Pesach table.    

In the meantime, the same logic that causes observant Ashkenazi Jews to shun kitniyot during Pesach will continue to cause the ultra-orthodox to avoid fruit-named smartphones, especially those smartphones that are named after fruit that carry high risks of insect infestation.