Passover is Expensive!
Consider this a rant. Every Passover, Jewish families are stuck shelling out 3-4 times the ordinary amount of money they spend on food just to survive the 8-day-long holiday. I mean, $7.99 for 6 processed and mediocre-looking chocolate cupcakes? You have got to be kidding me! Chocolate cupcakes might seem unnecessary for “survival” but I assure you there are many other more necessary Passover foods that are beyond overpriced as well. And I need to complain about it.
Before I go any further, I should explain what Kosher for Passover means. The basic definition for Kosher for Passover foods means no grains or foods that contain yeast, sourdough or anything that causes fermentation. This can be extrapolated this to mean: no bread, no pasta, no rice, etc. but a strict observance of Passover involves much more than simply omitting these foods from your holiday diet.
While products like applesauce or apple juice do not seem like they would breach the basic definition, it’s possible that the apple juice you’re used to buying is not kosher for Passover. For instance, the conventional recipe might incorporate grains or other non-kosher for Passover ingredients OR the juice could have been processed on equipment used to process non-Kosher for passover products as well. But how would you know?
Enter: the Kosher For Passover symbol. Like all kosher foods, in order to identify a product as truly Kosher for Passover, you need to look for a symbol on the packaging. This symbol is called a “hechsher” and it indicates that the product was supervised by a Rabbi and made in accordance with kosher laws. This is what distinguishes “Passover food’ from any regular food that might not seem unkosher for Passover. And these foods have the prices I’m complaining about.
Back to my rant:
Is it the supervision that costs so much? Why would Passover supervision cost more than regular kosher supervision? I do recognize that there is much more cleaning and scrutiny involved, but if you think about it…Passover is not a surprise every year and they should have separate equipment ready to go.
It’s just frustrating when you spend $70 on one tiny trip to the grocery store and all you have brought home is some matzo, wine, cookies and a can of mushrooms. And believe me, the portions weren’t large either. Or how about the other time I spent $25 on some hot cereal, almonds, brown sugar, ground walnuts? The stuff adds up! Neither of these grocery trips was enough to feed a family, let alone put a seder together for guests.
I just don’t understand why a bag of potato chips that has 2-3 servings has to cost $3.69 ($3.99 at a more expensive store). While regular food prices have fluctuated due to the economy this past year, most prices have been back down for months. And the ingredients used in most Kosher for Passover products shouldn’t be too different from the potatoes or oil (for this example) we use normally.
Sure, instead of buying that Passover cake for $11.99, you can make your own Passover Hazelnut Chocolate Viennese Torte. But the problem is: your ingredients are still going to be expensive. It just seems like some companies are taking advantage. Consumers expect prices to go up for Passover but this year’s prices are unreasonable. Maybe companies should factor in expensive Passover supervision in products throughout the year to make the prices on Passover more manageable?
The sad thing is there are people who want to observe Passover but can’t because of these prices. An organization called Maot Chitim asks for donations every year to send Passover food to religious families who can’t afford it. Believe it or not, the donation requests have increased 25% to feed the same amount of people as last year. What costs $72 last year to send a food package to a family of four now costs $90. If that doesn’t reflect the huge increase in food prices, I don’t know what does. To make a donation, click here.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you share in this frustration? Do you know why Passover foods are so expensive? Do you have a solution to avoid this problem in the future? Post in the comments!