Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Bugs You'll Find in Couscous - and Other Food (Video Included)

Acyrthosiphon lactucae 5083076
               Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University / ©, via Wikimedia Commons

The Torah commands us not to eat the various insects and bugs that fly about and crawl around. Fruits and vegetables are often filled with these insects. It is imperative that one learn all the laws necessary regarding the various types of insects and bugs that infest fruits and vegetables and to know how to clean them effectively. Every fruit and vegetable (as well as grains and other food products) has a different way for cleaning and checking due to the abundance of insects and bugs around. While many use plain soap on everything, it is not always the answer. In fact, many insects have claws that dig into the fruits and vegetables. A general soak in soapy water may not suffice to pull the insect away from the fruit or vegetable and more effort may be needed.

Then there are the fruits such as oranges which contain a thick peel. Many think that simply removing the peel is sufficient without considering the (real) possibility of insects infesting the peel. If the insects and bugs are not removed, they often stick to the hands causing one to end up eating them when one begins to eat the fruit inside! Additionally when cutting the fruit the insect may slip off the peel and enter the fruit. They may be barely noticeable and one ends up eating these bugs. The Torah clearly prohibits this on a number of occasions, causing the one to eat from it to not only transgress a variety of transgressions, but to also end up bringing the bug into one's body. The Torah warns that this has an effect on the way we think, or to put things into perspective, the general saying "You are what you eat," is equally applicable.

The short video below gives an insight into the type of bugs you can find inside couscous. Indeed, while the couscous one eats may very well look clean, the bugs burrow themselves inside certain parts. These bugs are visible at the time one presses on the couscous (or bites into it!) and of course if one eats it, one will be eating not just a dead creature - but a living creature as well!

Rabbi Moshe Vaye - acknowledged world authority on the laws of cleaning food, says in his work "Bedikas HaMazon" that high quality couscous is presumed clean, but that anything less than that requires a good checking (which means literally sifting through every part of the couscous packet as one prepares to cook it.)

Enjoy the video - and may it assist in clarifying just one area in the necessity to check all one's fruits and vegetables - and in fact all the food one eats!

It is told that the reason G-d created the mouth underneath the eyes (and nose) is so that before one places food inside one's mouth, one has the opportunity to both see as well as smell the food. One can see it - in order to make sure there is no forbidden bug or insect (or anything forbidden) on it, and one can smell it to check that it is not off.

Here is a video of Rabbi Moshe Vaya (in Hebrew) sharing some important information about checking food for bugs.

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