Sunday, July 15, 2012

Has The RCBC Gone Too Far?

I just got off the phone with my sister-in-law. She ordered chicken with broccoli from Chopstix and noticed that almost all of the broccoli in the food was stalks and not heads. The dish which the family had enjoyed for many years was now almost inedible. Who wants to eat broccoli stalks? They're edible but they're not what you want in your Chinese food.
My brother called Chopstix and was told that the RCBC now requires "Bodek" broccoli. For those who don't know, "Bodek" is a brand of vegetables that claims to be insect free and is under rabbinical supervision. Chopstix is now using Bodek broccoli in their food. It's more expensive than regular fresh broccoli, so it seems they're supplementing the Bodek broccoli heads with regular broccoli stalks, which are not thought to be insect ridden.
I've heard that the RCBC is a lot stricter than local Vaads in other towns and cities (not allowing the owner to act as mashgiach, requiring a certain wage for the mashgiach, holding the keys for restaurants), and that drives prices for kosher food in Bergen County through the roof.
I've also heard of the RCBC 'extorting' money by insisting on an additional RCBC mashgiach (paid at an exorbitant rate) at events in local shuls even when an outside caterer would provide a trusted and accepted mashgiach from a respected national or regional supervising agency.
In the last few years we have lost a huge number of kosher restaurants and food stores, like Mabat, Shalom Bombay, Jerusalem of Gold, Bake N' Bagel, Petak's of Teaneck, Jerusalem Pizza, Plaza Pizza, Fish of the C's, Chan's, Grill Street, Pita and Company, Pasta Factory, Ima's, Deco Dave's, Burgers Bar, Fliegel's, Big Apple Farms, Paul's Pickles, Cafe Adam, Walla, Ariel's, Hunan Teaneck, Le Chocolat, Sabrinna's, New Wave Cafe, Hatikva, Piccanti, Room For Dessert, Dale and Thomas, Gruenbaum's, Korn's, Little Tel Aviv, Premier Grill, Bergenfield Kosher Supermarket, Teaneck Wine Cellar, Breadstix and Glatt World. That's 37 kosher establishments we've lost in the last 5 to 10 years here in Bergen County. There are probably more that I have forgotten, and I did not include non-glatt places that closed, like Sol & Sol's. Of course these were not all the fault of the RCBC. But the RCBC drives the cost of operating a kosher business in Teaneck through the roof. This turnover has got to be way more than what would naturally occur in an open market.
Back to broccoli... Of course the broccoli we buy at the supermarket evidently contains bugs and we're all sinners unless we check everything we eat with a microscope.
So is it goodbye to chicken with broccoli, and pretty soon, goodbye to many other vegetables if the RCBC has their way? Has the RCBC gone too far? Have shul Rabbis told congregants not to eat store-bought broccoli? Shouldn't we be looking for a 'kula' of which there are many instead of 'chumras' like our brethren in the black hat world? Will we be told not to drink the water like the folks in Brooklyn?
Where does it end?