JERUSALEM (Aug. 30)
Bug-free lettuce, grown in massive greenhouses in the Gaza Strip, is rapidly becoming a consumer success story among Orthodox Israelis while at the same time spreading into non-Orthodox homes, restaurants and hotels.
The agricultural delight, pleasing to the palate and the eye, is particularly important to religious Jews, who regard even the smallest bugs as non-kosher.
Farmers of the religious Gush Katif settlements introduced the new agricultural line, which has expanded to include parsley and cabbage, in cooperation with rabbis and scientists.
Laboratories connected to the venture are now experimenting with a whole gamut of other vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, corn and onion.
The precise growing process remains a trade secret, except for the grower’s insistence that hardly any pesticide is used.
The indicates the probable reliance on physical blockage of pests, such as netting, to prevent crawling and flying bugs from even getting into the greenhouses.
The lettuce is marketed in sealed cellophane wrappers, so there is no additional opportunity for bugs to get into the produce before it gets the consumer’s table.
The bug-free produce is currently 30 percent to 100 percent more expensive than regular lettuce, but the growers expect the price gap narrow as the consumption increases.