Have you ever noticed any of the symbols in my picture above, on your food products that you buy from the grocery store? Most of you probably have not, however, these symbols have special meaning. They mean that the product has been certified as being “kosher.” When you buy kosher foods, you are reducing your risks of buying food that have contaminations, diseases, and bugs.
As you can see in my photo of symbols, there are a plethora of them. If you go to your pantry right now, you will probably notice that you have several kosher foods. The word kosher comes from the Hebrew word “Kashrut,” meaning fit, proper and correct. As it pertains to food, it follows the direction of the L-rd written in Scripture about food that is good to eat–the Dietary Law. G-d gave the Israelites, your ancestors, a fit and proper way to eat, not only because He knew what was best, but also for general good health.
In order for foods today to carry one of these kosher symbols, the food must meet the following standards:
- meat and foul must have been slaughtered properly in the least painful way to the animal, killing them swiftly, so they do not experience prolonged agony. The animal must also be free of disease, ailments, and broken bones. Once the animal is slaughtered, all of its blood must be drained from its body. The animal must be a “clean” animal as written in scripture. These animals include cattle, goats, lamb, chicken and some other birds, fish that have fins and scales, and several other animals. The meats that are “unclean” according to scripture are swine (pigs), shellfish (crabs, lobster, scallops, oysters and others), many fishes (catfish, etc.), anything that crawls on the earth (snails, snakes, alligators, etc.), insects and bugs. The L-rd calls these unclean for good reason. Also forbidden is drinking the blood of animals as some cultures do, and eating the fat the surrounds the liver and vital organs of an animal. For a complete list of clean and unclean meat, see Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14.
- Meat and dairy products cannot be cross-contaminated and cannot be processed on equipment that is cross-contaminated with meat and/or dairy products. It is very important to kosher standards that meat and dairy, (not necessarily foul and fish), do not mix, even when eating them. If eating meat and dairy together, the dairy should be eaten first, rinse your mouth with water, then the meat. For example, such as mashed potatoes that have milk and butter ingredients and roast beef. If the meat is consumed first, then there is a 3 hour waiting period before eating a dairy product. There are substitutes for butter and milk that can be used in mashed potatoes if you really want to be strict about it.
Kosher foods are prepared and processed using the highest food preparation standards. The food and equipment are oftentimes under strict rabbinical inspection and supervision. Once prepared, they are certified by a Rabbi of the kosher certification organization. Many people buy kosher because kosher foods are deemed cleaner, healthier and better than non-kosher products.
With the many different problems the food industry faces today including diseases coming from our meat and sub-par preparations from different countries, genetic engineering, GMO’s, processed foods, insecticides, and plain old carelessness, it is satiating to have standards for foods that are kosher certified, signified by its symbol. Of course, it would be difficult to replace every single food item you eat with a kosher one, unless you scrutinize your purchases to the fullest extent.
I personally eat kosher and have for over 15 years. It really helps to understand these symbols on our food and why they are there. I am convinced that if more people would eat kosher, there would not be the epidemic of diseases there are today such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
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