When Rabbi Shoshan Ghoori of the Orthodox Union first traveled to La Rinconada, Peru, the world’s highest city, the air was so thin that he needed an oxygen tank just to stay conscious. But the lack of air did not deter him from his peculiar mission: deciding whether quinoa should be kosher for Passover.
Over the next two years, Ghoori would return to the Andean highlands on nearly 10 fact-finding missions. Though he set out to discover only the food’s kosher status, he would become an unlikely champion of exploited Peruvian farmers, helping them export their goods for a fair price.
Before Ghoori undertook his quest, a competing kosher certification agency had ruled that the grain could be kosher for Passover. But the O.U., the nation’s largest kosher certification agency, had refused to give its stamp of approval.
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