Kosher foods must meet a slew of dietary and processing rules, deeming them not only fit for the standards set by Jewish law, but also those for safety and health. Between 2003 to 2008, kosher food sales increased 64 percent, making it the fastest growing ethnic cuisine as more and more people are going kosher, and not just for religious reasons.
Could kosher be the new organic?
Although for religious reasons, kosher foods are closely monitored during processing, making them healthier and safer than many of their mainstream, traditional counterparts. Kosher foods exclude certain animal products and strictly regulate the ways in which animals are slaughtered. Animals are slaughtered quickly, with a deep stroke across the throat, which prevents them from experience pain or suffering. Imagine the adrenaline that flows through the animals’ blood in stressful situations and the expectation of death. Kosher meat also dictates that the animal not have died from natural causes or have had any abnormalities before death. From a health standpoint, this prevents the passing on of diseases to humans.
Meat and dairy are also restricted from being mixed, so during processing, all kosher dairy products must be prepared separately from the meat products and with different machinery. This extends to the utensils being used during preparation, especially in the presence of heat. From the health perspective, this prevents any contamination or spreading of bacteria. Heat can cause flavors and fats to penetrate the surfaces of machinery and tools used in preparation, leaving more opportunity for cross-contamination. In consideration of your health, the consumption of two proteins and their dense fats, like meat and dairy, is difficult for the body to break down and process in the stomach, which can lead to digestive difficulties. In this way, kosher aids digestive health by keeping the two separate.
Kosher grains, fruits and vegetables are also closely monitored so that they contain no bugs, worms or other insects. Good thing for the health foodie, as the presence of such insects can be harmful to the body or be parasitic.
Kosher rules also omit the consumption of shellfish, which are known to cause allergies and may even pose serious health risks. Shellfish are “filter-feeders”, which means that they filter water through their gills in order to get nutrients. However, considering the compromised cleanliness of the world’s water systems, shellfish are also filtering chemicals and toxins that can negatively affect your health if you consume them.
So, next time you think organic, why not go kosher instead? The guidelines are strictly followed by kosher food producers, as they are backed by religious ethics. Improve your health and experiment with your palette all at once.
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Photo Credit: Matt