Passover Debate: Is Quinoa Kosher?

(Image credit: Emily Han)

When we posted a Passover recipe for sweet and crunchy quinoa salad last week, we had no idea that quinoa may not actually be kosher. A comment on that post brought it to our attention, and this weekend the New York Times delved more deeply into the fascinating debate surrounding this South American grain and its place on the Passover table.

While many have happily welcomed quinoa as a fresh addition to their kosher repertoire, some rabbis question the methods farmers use when harvesting and processing the grain. Although quinoa itself is unleavened, inspectors have found traces of wheat in some samples, possibly because the same equipment is used when handling different crops.

To settle the matter, a rabbi from a kashrut (kosher dietary law) certification group will need to inspect quinoa operations in Bolivia, but that’s easier said than done, according to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, director of the kosher supervision service of the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

“We’d like to get someone up there to inspect the operations, but it’s a four-day trek into the wilderness,” Rabbi Fishbane said. “Until we can get someone there, we’re going to have to make the best decisions we can with the information we have.”

In the meantime, his organization recommends Ancient Harvest and Trader Joe’s, two brands sourced from Bolivian farms that exclusively handle quinoa.

What do you think about this debate? Will there be quinoa on your Passover table?

(Image: Emily Ho)

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