Fruits and Vegetables
Almost all fruits and vegetables are kosher. This is good news, because fruits and vegetables are available almost everywhere. There are a few situations where fruit may not be kosher. The fruit of the first three years of a tree’s growth are called orlah and are forbidden to eat. Generally you do not need to worry about orlah if you are buying fruit from at a market or from a local shop.
Some fruits and vegetables may contain bugs. Bugs are not kosher and need to be removed before eating the fruit or vegetable. I have not come across many fruits that have bugs; however, berries can sometimes be a problem. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, and so on need to be inspected carefully for bugs. Vegetables, especially leafy ones like lettuce and flowery vegetables like cauliflower, are prone to bugs. These need to be inspected carefully before eating.
The fruit and vegetables in developing countries will almost always have more bugs than what you may be used to if you are coming from a developed country.
Here is a great guide to learn how to check fruits and vegetables for bugs.
Produce of the Land of Israel
Produce of the land of Israel has many complications. The first time I was in Israel I was a teenager. I bought some bananas and apples from a street vendor and began to eat. An older man approached me and explained that the fruit I was eating was not kosher. For the life of me I could not understand how a fruit could not be kosher. I then learned about the Biblical rules, the laws from the Torah that control the use of agriculture produce that is grown in Israel. For produce grown in the Land of Israel there are various tithes that must be given like: Terumat HaMaaser, Maaser Rishon, Maaser Sheni, and Maaser Ani. Produce that has not been tithed is called tevel. There are further laws regarding fruit grown in the sabbatical year known as shmitah that, unless manged carefully, are forbidden to eat. Because of all these complicated laws, you will find kosher certification symbols (haskacha) on fruit and vegetables and on the shops that sell them.
In Thailand you can buy fresh orange juice almost anywhere on the street.
It is okay to buy fresh juice from a stand that serves only cut up fruit and fruit juice. Places where I remember there being a strong presence of many fresh fruit juice bars are: Jordan, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and India.
Plain dried fruit is kosher provided it is not coated in any oils. Check for bugs.
When I was in Japan I found fruit to be incredibly expensive. A simple piece of fruit could cost $2-$3 with a handful of grapes easily costing $20 -$-30. This challenged me, because fruit is what I mostly eat. I checked many places to try and find cheaper fruit. I managed to find some but not much. What I realized is that to the Japanese people it is all about how the fruit looks. Its presentation needs to be perfect. Every carrot and tomato needs to be exactly the same size, shape, and color. This got me thinking: things don’t all grow to perfection – where is all the imperfect fruit? I then discovered vegetable and fruit juice is sold around Japan incredibly cheap. I looked around in some local markets and purchased huge bags of dried fruit for a few dollars. I also found wild fruit trees from which the local Japanese would not eat because the fruit was not perfect-looking. So even in Japan where fruit and vegetables are very expensive, you can still get good nutrition by drinking fruit and vegetable juice and eating dried fruit.
Here are some other fruit & veggie themed posts we’ve made: