This post is a follow up to the Kashrut for New Olim post. If you haven't seen it yet, please check it out!
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES in Israel
Unlike in other parts of the world, in Israel fruits
and vegetables are NOT automatically "kosher" - here we need
to make sure that they are not "orlah" fruits (harvested during a tree's
first 3 yrs) and that trumot and ma'asrot have been taken (from both fruits and vegetables).
If you shop
at a market that doesn't have an ishur kashrut (kosher certification) on their produce, you'll
need to investigate these issues further, if
you are interested in adhering to the halachot of the Land of Israel OR if
you regularly host people who assume the food in your home is kosher! I must say that it's important to familarize yourself with these special halachot, as
they are part of keeping kosher in Israel! (If you say you keep Kosher in Israel,
everyone assumes that you have taken care of these issues; and if you don't, then you may be unwittingly putting someone in a situation they don't want to be in!)
It's definitely possible to
take trumot and maasrot on your own (I do it often), so vegetables are easiest to buy without a teudah, as that is all you need to do (and very often, it would be without a bracha). Some of the fruits
on the market may be ok to purchase even from a non-certified
establishment and just take trumot and maasrot, because of the extremely low percentage of orlah fruits
being sold, but those lists change frequently, so you'll constantly need
to stay up-to-date. There's a phone number to call for the new orlah
list every month - 02-648-8888, ext. 3.
Other fruits can be a problem, because of a high possibility that they are orlah (from the first 3 yrs after the tree was planted). I am going to try to post a monthly update here, with a list of the fruits where the percentage of orlah fruits on the open market is greater than 0.5%, so should only be bought from a reputable source that does not sell orlah fruits (i.e. a place with a teudah):
Update for Sivan 5777
Fruits to AVOID buying without a teudah:
Prickly Pear (Sabra Fruit)
I have also seen lists stating that the following fruits also have a high percentage of orlah, despite the fact that they were left off the list when I called the number above:
Please be sure to speak with your personal Halachic Authority about purchasing fruit in Israel without a teudah. Not everyone holds by the 0.5% threshold. This information is just for informational purposes and is not a halachic psak! Even if you follow a psak that relies on the 0.5% threshold, you still must take trumot and maasrot on all produce grown in Israel (or be sure it has been taken), in order to fulfill your halachic obligations.
Also, this list does not apply to fruit grown by an individual. If your friend has a fruit tree, you'll need to find out how old it is!