“Kosher” is an English word that is derived from “kashér” in Hebrew. Kashér means pure, proper, or suitable for consumption. The kosher diet is not a culinary-based diet or weight loss diet, but rather a way of eating that follows the standards of traditional Jewish law.
The laws that describe the kosher diet, also known as kashrut, are found within the Torah, the Hebrew Bible. The kosher dietary laws describe which foods are allowed or prohibited. They also provide instructions for how foods must be produced, processed, and prepared.
For many Jewish people, keeping kosher is about health and food safety, but it is also about following and honoring their ancestral religious tradition. There are many different Jewish communities and cultures, and each community may follow kosher guidelines with different levels of strictness, or some not at all.
The interpretation and application of the kosher laws have been passed down for thousands of years from generation to generation through oral and family tradition. The long history and extensive laws can make kosher a complex diet to understand! If you’re interested in learning more about the kosher diet, read on!
Kosher dietary rules and regulations
A food item is not able to be deemed kosher based on its ingredients alone. Since kashrut establishes rules for how the food is produced, processed, and prepared, a food item must be monitored throughout every step from farming to transportation. In the modern, industrialized world, kosher certification can be a difficult process. If you are ever not sure if an item is kosher, the easiest way to know is to look for the OU kosher certification on the label.
Here are some of the most widely accepted and followed rules and regulations of kosher law:
- Mammals must have split hooves and chew their cud to be considered kosher
- This means that foods such as pork and rabbit are not kosher
- Fish must have fins and removable scales to be considered kosher
- This means that certain seafood such as catfish, sturgeon, and shellfish are not considered kosher
- Only certain birds that are non-predatory can be considered kosher
- This means that fowl such as eagle and owl are not considered kosher
- Reptiles and most insects are not considered kosher
- Any kosher species of meat and fowl must be slaughtered in an approved manner
- Kosher meat and dairy products may not be manufactured, cooked, or consumed together
- Any food containing non-kosher ingredients cannot be considered kosher, even if some of the ingredients are kosher
What does kosher certified mean?
For a product to be certified kosher, it must strictly adhere to all the requirements of kosher law and be approved by a rabbi. The organization OU Kosher performs the Kosher Certification process and marks kosher-approved products with an OU symbol on the label.
When a product is certified kosher, you can rest assured that all ingredients, byproducts, facilities, tools and machinery, and production processes have been inspected and deemed completely kosher and free from any non-kosher substances or practices.
Should you eat kosher?
While kosher is a traditional Jewish diet, many people of all backgrounds might be interested in eating kosher and learning more about the history and benefits of this ancestral diet.
Did you know that kosher items are growing in popularity with people who are Muslim? Muslims or anyone eating halal may wish to seek out kosher certified items because they also adhere to the Quran's dietary laws of halal.
Since kosher items are strictly inspected and regulated, anyone who is health-conscious may be interested in eating kosher or incorporating more kosher items into their diet because they may be safer, higher-quality foods.
One thing to remember is that eating kosher does not require you to eat only traditional Jewish foods. If you cook with only kosher ingredients and follow kosher law while preparing your food, then you can create any style or ethnicity of food in your own home and it will be kosher.
Shop kosher today
Do you already eat a kosher diet? Are you new to kosher but interested in learning more about kosher products now? We sell a wide selection of kosher certified products in our shop!