Thursday, May 17, 2012

Behold, the Power of the Chocolate Chip

I can just hear people from the future, saying, "Ahhhh, remember Trader Joe's pareve chocolate chips? We thought the world was ending so we all stocked up. I still have one bag that I saved. Wanna see it?"


This week, the Jewish community — and specially the Chalav Yisroel adhering community — took a hard blow with the news that Trader Joe's famous chocolate chips will no longer remain pareve, soon to be stamped "OU-D" for "Dairy." News from the top is that, in actuality, they will be DE (Dairy Equipment), still rendering the chocolate chips off-limits for the many Lubavitchers who don't eat "DE" and for everyone else, unable to be served alongside meat.

Never before have I seen chocolate chips get so much publicity. Everyone's fainting on Facebook. Gathering the masses in uproar, signing petitions, arguing about the implications, defending the taste and flavor of these beloved chocolate morsels to anyone who dares question their superiority. 

It's interesting how quickly people recognize what they have only when it's threatened. 

(Okay, I know what you're thinking. Here Mimi goes, getting all intense on us. But, seriously people, this is deep stuff.)

We get used to things. We need and desire our homes, our clothes and our cars with such liveliness, but as soon as they are "ours" for longer than six milliseconds, it's all too easy to forget the life we had prior to their purchase. The life we had when everything depended on owning them. And the same things go with "smaller" blessings that we encounter without thinking thankfully. Like that someone invented those Garden Veggie Straws we give our kids guilt-free. Or that there is something called nail polish remover. And seriously, what would we do if they discovered that Facebook was illegal and needed to be shut down? (Personally, I just got goosebumps.) 

I wonder if anyone over the years has stopped to think, "Wow, thank goodness these chocolate chips are pareve. What would we do without them?" Probably not. Sure, we're conscious that we love them. After all, they're mostly everyone's chocolate chip of choice. But we toss them into the cookie dough with abandon, hardly stopping to think that maybe, just maybe, one day they could be a distant memory. 

I can just hear people from the future, saying, "Ahhhh, remember Trader Joe's pareve chocolate chips? We thought the world was ending so we all stocked up. I still have one bag that I saved. Wanna see it?"

I think its rad that women are sending around the petition. Power to the people. If there's a chance it can stay pareve, let's push for it! But let's also hear the deeper message from this unfortunate news and what it's unleashed. Let us all be grateful that not only does there exist this brilliant invention called the chocolate chip, but that its species comes in a variety of brands and packaging that, should we be forced, might actually make a fine new option. 

We must ask ourselves: If our lives are filled with the knowledge of all we have to be thankful for, would some chocolate chips really throw us off? Are our lives really so narrow that they become disrupted this easily? Are there other, bigger, issues that should be vying for our time, our voice? What, here, is really the issue? 

I encourage you to ponder these questions. As central to our lives as this sweet creation is, there is something very freeing about not being victim to a few morsels of chocolate.

4 LadyMama voices:

Evelyn said... [Reply to comment]

Great food for thought, Mimi. Glad to hear that it is just DE that everyone is fussing over, so the the chips will still be in my kitchen. I heard that many desserts labeled Dairy are now in fact DE because of the problem with severe dairy allergies. (Oreos?) Companies don't want to be sued.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

They're not just DE. They're made on equipment that has actual dairy chocolate chips and there is a real chance that one of the dairy chips will end up in your bag when you reach for it after your cholent (or in the chocolate chip cookies you serve to your guests). Not cool.

And pleeeez, don't even MENTION Facebook being taken away! :/

Li said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Mim :)
I read this last week and have been meaning to reply, but only just found a minute to do so now. In response to your questions: no, of course we don't want lives where our 'happiness' hinges on the kashrus of chocolate chips. I think if we did, we probably wouldn't be concerned about kashrus in the fist place.

That said, as Lubavitchers, I think we have a unique perspective that can somewhat unify the two 'camps' on this issue... and, as always, it's thanks to the Rebbe. That's because he told us that we're all shluchim, to the greater Jewish community and to each other, not just the 'card-carrying' members. As such, our focus is on a higher objective, but our daily lives - the focus of our actions - is on connecting with others. Now, we obviously all have different ways of doing this: you have this amazing blog, your husband makes amazing music, I help shluchim promote their events with fliers, etc. Another way many of us connect with our "crowd" is through food (the good old-fashioned Jewish way!). As such, the practical aspects of food prep - menu, ingredients, etc - become more significant. Now, I'm not saying that people show up for the chocolate chips, but I think the fact that the women in our greater community are focused enough on their food to really be impacted by the absence of tasty pareve chocolate chips is a GOOD sign - it means that we're invested in what we do, and take pride in it. And I'm ok with that :) (and the large stash of chips stored in my cabinet, lol).

Alicia said... [Reply to comment]

I guess it's time for a new maker!