Monday, April 10, 2006

Whose Fault is it?

Any way you slice it, Pesach is expensive.

I'm not even talk about those who spend amounts of money that could buy a car on a mere 8 days in a hotel. That was last year's Pesach piece.

Your average family in Brooklyn will inevtiably spend, only on food and wine, approximately $1,000.

Someone who lives out of town, and doesn't buy his own Matza asked my father, "How much is a pound of hand Shmura these days?" My father responded, "about $16," and was met with, "Chillul Hashem." I understand, they have to pay the workers, they have to pay rent for the factory, as well as ingredients and maintenance. But tell me how flour and water can add up to $16 a pound. Then we get broken matzos half the time that you can't use for the Seder, so that tricks you into buying a few extra boxes knowing that you need 3 whole ones per man for 2 Sedarim. But it's food for a Mitzvah, and they work hard to provide us with something we cannot make ourselves. So, Hakoras HaTov I guess.

That's not even so bad once you think about the take-out. The exploitation is front and center, and even moreso, SHAMELESS. We had Pesachdik take-out for Shabbos, and the prices were exoribitant. What's the difference between this and the "Chametzdik" smoked turkey breast? Nothing. They charge more because they know they can. Most things sold in take-out stores are not Chametzdik to begin with. So if they need to use Cottonseed Oil and Kosher L'Pesach mayo, there is not much of a price difference there. Not on the Supermarket level, at least. Potato salad? Same thing. Cucumber salad, cole slaw, chicken cutlets, (except the breading, and potato starch is pretty darn cheap) Zucchini, Potato Kugel? SAME THING.

Okay, so they make some new products for Pesach to make up for the Pasta salad, rice, and other Kitnyot and Chametz foods. But this is an excuse to charge $10/lb for kugels?? To raise the prices of things that are identical to what's sold all year? I just don't see the need for it. I see it draining the money out of our pockets. I know, I know, you don't HAVE to buy take-out, and by doing so, you're allowing them to take advantage. Okay, fair argument. There are people who don't eat any take-out on Pesach because of Kashrus. Won't get into that one.

But what about the meat?

Raw freakin' meat. Certainly, they jack up the prices. That's sick. Meat is meat is meat. It's not Chametz all year, so what happens Pesach time? Guess what, there has been Chametz in your meat all year. That's why Atkins hasn't worked. There was leaven bread hidden in your meat. Until about 3 weeks before Pesach.

So, about 3 weeks before Pesach, all meat has a "Kosher L'Pesach" sticker on it, and to go along with that, higher prices. This is not so our neurotic overly-prepared neighbors can start meat shopping in advance.It's a moneymaker for the meat people. They know that people buying meat for Chametz have no options and have to spend more, hence a longer period of time to reep in an extra profit. No wonder the meat guy I know drives a $60,000 SUV.

Again, like Matza, meat isn't something that we can all prepare on our own. We're not all Shochtim and all that. So we're at their mercy, and they take great advantage of that. This meat thing is just a blatant demand for more money for no good reason. Chillul Hashem.


At 4/10/2006 11:56 AM, Blogger Y.Y. said...

matzoh- costs alot to produce from the cutting of the wheat till the end process.
meat/milk- the animals are fed different more expensive food so it shouldnt have chometz.
the other stuff you mentioned you are probably right i personaly dont think the matzoh bakeries make that much money as i know a few owners and they dont have money the other pesach stores however is a different story

At 4/10/2006 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all i can say is you hit it on the spot, great blog

At 4/10/2006 6:44 PM, Blogger Josh said...

First, Mich, you are correct, Pesach is expensive, even if you don't go away. Take your entire kitchen, throw everything out, and now restock it, and, yes, that will be expensive. Now invite over 20 of your closest friends for at least two meals, and you're feeding a whole lot of mouths.

But. You fail to understand the cost of the items. Yes the ingredients are the same. But do you know what it takes to kasher a business, to stop producing for a few days to clean everything? And all that food that doesn't sell, it has to be thrown out, because nobody's buying Pesach food after the last day of Pesach. Matzos? All those broken, burned, and 19 minute matzos get junked. That's a lot of waste.

Truthfully, however, the blame lies on the consumer. We pay for our convenience. We want prepared foods, whether from the grocery or deli. So marketers make products that will help us, and apparently we are willing to shell out a lot of cash to make our lives easier.

So I'd suggest you go into the grocery business, and you can show all your neighbors how a Yid lives by forgoing the SUV.

At 4/10/2006 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've gotta go with Josh, here-
I like your blog, but you obviously don't know anything about the food business. It ain't a piece of cake. Matzoh-bakery owners with accounts in Switzerland? I don't think so, hon. And you know that meat-store owner with the big SUV? He's a successful businessman, sure, and I'll bet he has tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding 'tabs' on his books. He's not making a living by sucking Pesach blood.
Lately it seems like every post is just a rant against something. Stick to what you know, please.

At 4/10/2006 8:32 PM, Blogger lost99 said...

no pesach packaging stories, michelle? ;-P how was friday? i forgot to ask.

and i apologize for turning your wall into aim.

In any case, you know I agree with you on this subject, as I do on most of your flatbush enlightenments..

Chag Kasher V'Sameach in any case, ill be seeing you..

At 4/11/2006 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry guys but the butchers are making big bucks. I don't know about the others but some butchers turn over in excess of half a million over the Pessach season with higher margins than usual.

At 4/11/2006 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YY - get your head out of your ass. Al pi halacha, there is no need to stop giving cows chometz for meat and milk. Don't believe everything you read. Of course they get away with jacking up the prices - because suckers like you buy into their lies.

At 4/11/2006 7:13 AM, Blogger almost_frei said...

Michelle, I totally agree with you and it is even worse outside of NYC or the US!

It is worse than a chillul hashem, it is also pure genevah

At 4/11/2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Juat for the record we buy matzos that cost 6.99 a pund on sale in some stores that are the same brand sold for 16 in other places and let me tell you they are all whole and just as kosher. you have got to check the competition. these stores make the sale to attract the people but for those of us who shop there all year round there is no reason not to go there and buy it

At 4/11/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Well, there are many anonymouses here today, and I'm too lazy to number them, so I guess you'll all figure out who I'm talking to.

Yes, I know I know nothing about the food industry. I know it takes time and money to kasher. But such a crazy markup is sickening.

The Matzah--yeah I thought of that, too, Josh. The 19 minute Matzos, and all that. And, after reading other gutless anonymous comments, I appreciate EVEN MORE your non-accusatory, and Dan L'Caf Zchut tone. Thank you very much for your sanity and manners.

Anon-where do you shop? 6.99?? I'll take it!

Anon- you tell me all i do is rant. look back at posts that I've written and considered "positive,"--I've gotten either little or negative feedback. people tell me it's boring. I have many positive things to say,but it seems most of my readers don't care to know of them. So what do you suggest???

At 4/12/2006 8:03 AM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

supply and demand??
if you dont want it dont pay!

At 4/12/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger The Real Neo said...

Well, obviously you are feeling bettr and I will definitely do my best to stay on your good side :)

I think there are a lot of truths at play here. It is true that companies charge mor for pesach items because their cost is more. I alos believe it to be true that the mark ups are very high and seem to be disproportionate.

As far as "sticking to what you know," well, I don't think that was nice or fair to say to you. This is your blog and if someone doesn't like it, they can feel free not to read it.

Who knows, maybe the oppressive prices and costs for pesach can be used as reminders to our slave day and help us appreciate our freedom even more.

Chag kaher v'somiach and may you be blessed with emunah and hakaras hatov.

At 4/17/2006 3:50 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

Michelle, I hope you wont accuse of what you mentioned in your last comment on my blog..

But, If your husband was paid 20$ an hour to basically just sit in the take-out place, and fress all day, and then bring you home nice presents, I dont think that you would be complaining. Like everything in life, it depends whose ox is being gored.

At 4/23/2006 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for a butchers and we didnt take our prices up - although we should have - the customers are SO difficult at this time of year, they treat you like dirt, so people if your stressed, dont take it out on the workers please! :)

At 4/24/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Yeah, you're right.
I hate when customers treat the people behind the counter like garbage. Partially because they can. And it's disgusting. Keep your eyes peeled for new post. Any day now, bli neder.

At 4/25/2006 7:14 AM, Blogger JBL the first said...

That's the world today MONEY, and everyone (cuuulam) is out to make money. Same thing now with the big five oil companies. Just won't help anyone to try to stop it. Why don't you bring another 20 jewish price gouging like esrogim etc?

Anyhow i just love your attitude and openness on everything. Can't say I agree with everything 100% but I strongly agree with 80% you say. Just found your blog today and spend a bit of time reading etc. (all the bais Yaakov articles just take me back a couple of years when I used to hear my sisters say just that)

At 4/25/2006 2:53 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

I am reading all your comments through e-mail. Keep em coming.
What don't you disagree with? Just curious. Thanks.

At 4/26/2006 8:15 AM, Blogger JBL the first said...

I already disagreed on your new post. Actually I sent another one yesterday under anonymous (hint it's about internet).

At 4/26/2006 9:58 AM, Anonymous Chani said...

I work with a woman whose father-in-law was a butcher. She told me that he said it was the biggest joke-a month or so before Pesach they would take their knives, clean them, & give them out as "Pesach knives." Then all the meat they cut would cost double or triple what it should normally cost just because of the "Kosher for Passover" on the wrappers. This woman told me that she buys her meat way in advance & deep freezes it, because it's the same stuff.

At 5/02/2006 8:52 AM, Anonymous The Unorthodox Yeshiva Guy said...

Hey Michelle! Your blogs are really great!!! (all 6 of them)... please keep 'em coming!

As far as this particular pesach post is concerned, are you so sure that the butchers and take-out places that are to blame for this outrageous injustice you describe?

Somehow, I tend to suspect that this is the work of the same shady and corrupt kashrus industry that uses mafia-like strongarm tactics to bully kosher stores and restaraunts into paying their exorbitant fees!

Michelle- have you ever blogged the kashrus industry??

At 5/03/2006 3:26 AM, Blogger The Truth said...

Hi Michelle your blogs are pretty well written and to the point (just found them recently).

You're pretty much right about this issue. I think there is also price gouging going on in the kosher wine market a whole year including Pesach. Due to lack of competition.

Please check out my blog and tell me what you think.


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