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Brussels Sprouts

Q: A blogger has been blasting kosher agencies who forbid the consumption of Brussels Sprouts due to the presence of bugs. He makes a theological argument that we have no right to ban a vegetable and that doing so casts aspersions on the previous generations who ate it. I am sincerely interested in your position and defense on this question which bridges theology and kashrus, so any details or information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

A:It is true that our forefathers were as careful about not eating bugs as we are, and therefore if we know that they ate a given vegetable (e.g. romaine lettuce, parsley) we should assume that there is a way to remove all of the bugs before eating them. Accordingly, it is our job to find the right method of cleaning and checking, rather than ban the use of that vegetable. On the other hand, all of the major kosher agencies that we are aware of do not allow the use of Brussels Sprouts and that should give some indication that there’s probably some merit to that position.

The reason for the “ban” on Brussels Sprouts is that in order to wash and check them, all of the individual leaves have to be peeled off. This is perfectly effective at removing the bugs and would be acceptable, but most people want to eat/serve the Brussels Sprouts whole. Thus far, no one has been able to figure out any way to check the Brussels Sprouts whole and therefore we do not recommend them. However, the Rabbis at the cRc regularly investigate and consider new methods and information, and we would be happy to consider any ideas you might come up with.