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Calorie Count Blog

Is Kosher Healthier?


By +Carolyn Richardson on Jul 14, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

There are a reported three to six million Jews in America and estimates suggest that only 15-25% of Jews keep kosher. So how is it that 25% of all new food products are being labeled as kosher? Since 2007 a new food marketing strategy has increased kosher labels by ten times. These foods follow preparation guidelines from Jewish dietary laws which are based on religious principles. The proliferation of kosher labels may lure non-kosher shoppers to certain products. But is there anything about kosher foods that is safer or healthier for those who don't keep kosher?

How To Treat Kosher Meat

Aside from certain meats such as pork, shellfish, and catfish, Jewish dietary laws allow most familiar meats Americans eat. What sets kosher meat apart is how it is fed, killed, and processed. The slaughter process is said to be more humane and the meats are salted which can protect from bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. However, research by the USDA in 2007 showed salting alone did not reduce Salmonella contamination. What also may make kosher meat more desirable is cleanliness; utensils used for processing and cooking, including knives, cutting boards, pots and pans must be kept separate between meat and dairy products as well as vegetables. However, the separation between raw meat and produce utensils is a common practice in the USDA’s food handling procedures for all meat whether it is kosher or not.

What Kosher is Not

While there are restrictions on meat and dairy being eaten together, there is no kosher style of cooking. Therefore, a kosher restaurant refers to the processing practices referred to above, but may not necessarily serve Jewish cuisine. Another misconception is that religious officials ‘bless’ food to make it kosher, but this is not the case. While Rabbinic inspectors do exist, slowly non-Jewish food inspectors are being trained in kosher practices as is the case in New York state. There is no health-related benefit to foods labeled kosher, and although most kosher food, including produce, requires additional inspections than usual, the rules that govern kosher preparation do not make it better than a non-kosher alternative nutritionally. Lastly, many people believe kosher meat is raised and fed differently than regular meat. While many kosher meat producers use hormone-free feed, there is actually no regulation of how kosher meat is fed before its processing at a kosher slaughterhouse. Therefore kosher meat is not necessarily raised cage-free or fed organic feed. 

Who Benefits Most from Kosher Labels

Kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy, and pareve. Some dairy products have meat additives like gelatin, rennet, or food coloring, and kosher dairy would exclude these ingredients. Many vegetarians buy kosher products for this reason and look for foods indicated as "pareve." Those with food allergies may also look for pareve items to avoid dairy. Other religious groups, such as some Muslims, Hindus, and Seventh-Day Adventists, may also look for the kosher label to adhere to similar dietary laws. Aside from this, there are no defining benefits to buying kosher meat.


Your thoughts...

Which kosher products do you seek out and why?



Comments


I think killing the animals in a more "humane" way is a good enough reason to try eat kosher when possible..



Has your information been confirmed by a Rabbinic council or is this an attack on Jews?



Yes indeed where did you acquire your information? The OU as far as I am aware and as per it's website is rabbinical and they have their mark on the majority of food labeling. I see you didn't mention the Halal mark on thousands more food products and the fact that halal gelatin now makes most dairy products unsuitable for vegetarians.


This is not an attack on Jews. Relax. As a Jew this info is corrected. And no I am not kosher but I was brought up in a kosher house. And the comment about the Halal mark this is about kosher food that is why the Halal mark is not mentioned. Duh!


There's no need to be rude, the point is whether labeling goods with ANY religious dietary mark is healthy or not, which SHOULD have been the point of the article and not specifically directed at kosher. The author should have been more objective.


FYI, Halal gelatin is made from vegetables, not animal products. 



The health benefits of kosher meat include the fact that the meat is inspected for any blemishes or impurities, if they are found, the meat cannot be deemed kosher. Kosher labeling is also varied in which mark (heksher) is used. There are different overseeing agencies and some are stricter than others. By stricter, I mean that a very 'good' heksher means that a kitchen or processing plant has a certified person, well versed in the laws of kashrut who is there all the time, while a lesser mark may be from a group in which a kitchen is checked when it first opens but only rechecked, monthly, or much less often, so one is not totally sure that that the laws of kashrut are being followed in between. As for the Halel mark, this is a symbol for Arabs/Muslim dietary concerns and have nothing to do with kosher certification. Kosher laws have to do with the things mentioned in the article and much more. It is based on the guidelines in the Torah, a religious scale, not a physical health scale. Although, the restrictions for dietary consideration back in the days of Torah were indeed health related. Today, foods that may have been a health danger in the past may be safe, the religious guidelines remain. I am sure that the reason that more and more foods are labeled kosher is partly so that things which are inherently kosher, salt, vegetables, etc, are available to a wider purchase base. Many things are kosher, there is no insidideous plan to Kosher-ize America. I live in Israel, I am an observant Jew, and I must differ in the opinion that there is no such thing as a kosher style of cooking. A kosher kitchen is a complex thing, if you want to know more, feel free to ask. My point is really that this article seems to imply that kosher labeling is a marketing ploy, when in fact it is only an indication to those who are concerned, that the food they are buying and eating has been prepared in a halachically (Torah law) acceptable manner. Many many foods are kosher, (grape nuts, Oreos, etc) and they are not Jewish foods. However were they not labeled kosher, I, and many others could not and would not buy them.


Are you people insane? Kosher means the animal had it's throat slit and hung upside down to drain of blood until it dies.

Yes, that sounds much more humane.

beyond that, cleaner equipment for the dissection doesn't make it healthier, just reduces the chance of bowel based e-coli poisoning.

A more healthy option would be no meat! Or meat that lived a free outdoor life like the cows in Argentina. But the actual scientific evidence that meat from animals raised in that way is still non exsistant. Just because something certainly sounds like it must be healthier, doesn't mean it actually is.



Original Post by: yespecan

FYI, Halal gelatin is made from vegetables, not animal products. 


FYI please check your info halal gelatin IS made from animal tissue http://www.halalgelatine.com


Comment Removed

@israelgal: since you are an observing jew (btw, it would matter whether you're Ashkenazi when talking about kashrut, they seem to be more strict), and are referring to the Torah a lot, I was wondering. The most known kashrut law - separation of dairy and meat - stems from a sentence that approximately says "you shall not cook the baby goat in its mother's milk", right? Now that seems okay from the ethical point mostly. As I understand the rabbis have then interpreted this law further in the both Talmud variants, leading to the modern interpretation. Reasoning being that when buying from the market you cannot be sure that a piece of meat could be from the "baby goat" and the milk from its mother. Fair enough. But why has this law been interpreted so broadly then? What about dairy made from cow milk (say butter) with goat meat. Why can they not be eaten together?

Thanks in advance from a genuinely curious agnostic.



Kosher labeling, like gluten free labeling is designed to let people who follow a specific diet know what foods they can eat. Nothing more, nothing less. To even imply that it's deceptive labeling is ignorant and almost insulting.

By saying that since only a small amount of people keep kosher, kosher labeling is a gimmick, you're implying that people who keep kosher have no right to know what processed and packaged food they can eat. Are you also going to suggest that gluten free products are a gimmick, since only a small portion of the country has medical reasons to avoid gluten? Are sugar free products a gimmick since not many people are diabetic? 

Not every food label is advertising or a gimmick and not every diet is followed for express purpose of losing weight, and to imply that labeling foods is deceptive marketing to the dieting crowd is incredibly close minded. Think before you write. 



Interesting she equates kosher food with a diet craze (like gluten free).  The sad part of people who think this is all a marketing ploy is that there are some people (like people with celiac disease) that for them, it's a matter of life and death.  If the whole population (or a large part) decides to go gluten free (or kosher), it actually helps the people who need the diet because then companies are encouraged to put out more gluten free (or kosher) products.

Kosher food is tied to a religious system, and although she makes the point that clean knives and utensils are used (and highlights the separation of meat and dairy), she misses an important component of kosher food: the animals slaughtered are declared "clean."  This means they don't scrounge around in the mud and dirt (like pigs) or are bottom dwellers in the ocean (crabs & shellfish).

In ancient times, kosher practices might have avoided some of the problems that we avoid today by cleaning practices.  However, pigs still scrounge around in the mud and dirt and crabs, shellfish and catfish still populate the bottom of lakes and oceans, scrounging what has fallen from above.

In addition, there are certain cuts of meat that are not kosher.  Hebrew National (a hot dog company) has a great diagram in their logo space on hot dogs that shows what cuts of meat are kosher.  Most of the front of the cow is kosher, but the back part (intestinal area & buttocks) is not.

I am not a Jew, but I eat a Jewish-like diet (no pork or shellfish, although I eat meat with dairy, so Jewish-like, not kosher).  Although I can't say that the day I stopped eating pork or shellfish I felt instantly better and have never gotten sick since, my blood pressure & cholesterol numbers are really good (my husband has even sort of adopted my diet because the meats that I eat -- beef, poultry & fish with scales and fins -- are lower in cholesterol than pork and/or shellfish).



What's with all the vitriol over this article?  I'm not Jewish, but I once worked for an orthodox Jewish foundation, and I know there is a lot of confusion in our society over what kosher really is.  And there are people who buy kosher food thinking that it's healthier and/or better for them if they're trying to lose weight.  So, I think this article is useful because it's addressing misconceptions and clarifying what kosher means.



@viddar 1. Yes I am Ashkenazi 2. You are correct about the origin of the seperation of meat and milk, and technically, it is a specific prohibition against cooking an animal in its mothers milk, which is about not mixing 'life' (milk) with 'death' the animal. It gets complicated when we add rabbinical law which places 'fences' to protect Jews from possible transgression. This is similar to having a young child in a home where there is a wood stove. The parents will of course instruct the child not to touch the stove as it may burn him/her, but most will also put a barrier around it so that the child may not accidentally touch it. In this case, the law has been expanded to the point of not eating meat and milk together at all. One must also not eat chicken and milk, although chickens do not nurse or have milk.... Yes silly, but that is how it is. The Torah tells us that these rules will always stay intact, and that we must abide by our rabbis as experts in interpreting the laws. It is confusing, and sometimes seemingly nonsensical, but if one is an observant kosher Jew, that is the way it goes. There are a lot of laws that I have questioned till I am blue in the face, but it will never change the fact that if one chooses to observe at a high level, some things must just be accepted and obeyed.

@Frannyan - EXACTLY!!!


Where I grew up there were no and I mean no Jewish people.  I never even met a Jewish person until I was in my twenties and had absolutely no idea what 'kosher' meant.  My understanding now (which is obviously limited)  is that kosher food has been blessed and prepared in such a way that it follows the biblical teachings, and is totally a religious following.   To me this has nothing to do with health or diet and is strictly spiritual.

I cannot understand why a recipe intended for everyone would call for 'kosher' salt.   Salt is salt to me,  however it seems to me that a devout Jew would automatically already  be using kosher salt and would not need to be told to do that.  Just my two cents worth Cool



Great dialogue and exchange of comments.  

@israelgal:  Bang on!!  No right or wrong, simply level of observance.  



@suzeekay - kosher has absolutely nothing to do with blessings. Only in the manner that food is prepared. As for KOSHER salt, in America it usually means a coarser, irregular grind. All salt is kosher by nature. An orthodox observant Jew makes his or her own blessing on any food consumed, including water. There are particular blessings each for fruit, vegetable, cereals, bread, wine, and general foods that fit none of those categories.


I am a Muslim and eat Halal food. I actually created an account so I could comment on this article. First off, I do not agree with this article at all. The fact that you are taking a religious sacrament and trying to either turn it into (a) a health fad; or (b) a marketing scheme is ridiculous. Certifications such as Halal and Kosher are made for those people who abide by those methods of eating due to religious reasoning. It may have health reasoning, as in the case of halal meats, they are drained of their blood and impurities, I believe the Kosher process is similar (I could be wrong). At the end of the day however, we eat halal or kosher strictly due to religious reasoning.

For those who are arguing about halal gelatin, once again, it does not matter if it is derived from plant sources or animal sources, because it is not supposed to be a vegetarian option, but a halal option. If some halal/kosher options work for vegetarians and others, thats great, but remember, that is not the reason they are produced in the first place. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I just don't know why anyones even arguing the fact.

Alright, point made, now I can go shopping with my two year old in peace lol ;)



Kosher and Halaal butchery is cruel imo. Modern mainstream butchery has many faults, but at least the animal is stunned before it is killed, rather than being left to bleed to death. 



As a great man said, it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of his heart, that being said, I believe the ensueing conversations from this article generated alot of good info, thanks!

 



Actually, once you cut the jugular vein of the animal, it is dead instantly. That is how the animal is slaughtered. Any spontaneous spasms are natural as the blood flows out and muscles relax. The animal itself is dead, not alive anymore, to feel any pain. Anyways, I don't want to argue, I don't have the time to go back and forth, but you can look it up.



I honestly hate these kinds of articles because it makes people mad and then I want to comment. Anyway, I keep kosher and I always have. I never in a million years would try to equate kosher with healthier. It is just a religious specification. In fact some of the kosher food I have even has been the least healthy I have had because many products have to choose other options if they want it to be pareve. The point is, kosher is kosher for people who need it that way and for people who don't need it should not look at it as a healthier option. I will say that when I was also a vegetarian kosher for 15 years it was very healthy to know what was pareve or dairy and therefore vegetarian just by looking at the marking. I am sad though that people had the inconsiderate all of proofreading to allow this article to essentially call kosher a marketing ploy. I also didn't understand the dirt part of the article: should companies not try to accommodate people who have specifications and therefore reach a larger population? Should people with specific diets just have to deal with having fewer options? I love how many things are out there for me to eat that I never had when I was a kid! Also, you would not believe how many products that you would imagine to be vegetarian are actually loaded with animal products. Kosher marks just make my life so much easier and I wish more people would open their minds to the ways that other people live their lives.


It's like a mirror. People look at the laws of kashrut and seek confirmation of their starting position in any debate. In practicality kashrut labeling does have some benefits, ie winnowing choices, for some groups whose dietary standards seem compatible with kashrut rules and practices. There is one point though that she missed. Foods with the parve label may have fish and/or eggs in them. e.g. Worcestershire sauce has fish as an ingredient.

In the end I do agree with the authors comment that kosher is not the same as healthy. I keep kosher because I'm an orthodox Jew and I choose to follow the rules (commandments) my rabbis have taught me so I can have a relationship with G-d.

One further point the reason some salt is called kosher salt is because the grains are larger than average and was used the the removal of blood from meat right after slaughter. Regular table salt is quickly absorbed into the meat, leaving the blood trapped inside.

 



@rkdesktop Kosher salt doesn't mean it's kosher to eat (all salt is kosher) the reason why it's called kosher is because it's used to 'Kasher' the verb for cleaning a chicken (for example)  to make it kosher for use - you're not allowed to eat the blood of an animal so the more coarser version of salt is used to help drain the blood for proper consumption



@israelgal: thanks for the explanation :) ... I guess the main difference then is whether you are following the rabbinical teachings or are a Karaite. I understand these days most (religious) Jews follow the rabbinical teachings, though.

@ronit: I agree. I'd think that the author doesn't hold anything against the religious dietary laws but rather wonders whether it is a hype and whether it has a health benefit or not.

 

I've had Jewish couch surfers over from NYC. Nice folks - Ashkenazi, too. The most peculiar and somewhat sobering thing (w.r.t. hospitality I could offer) was that they couldn't use my pottery or in fact anything in the kitchen other than the tap water, fridge (I know some Jews have even separate fridges) and the stove. They had brought their own pot and so on. So when I asked how they would be able to convert my utensils into kashrut-compliant form one of them explained that it could be done with a blow torch. Well, I declined as you can imagine. And as strange as that answer seems to an agnostic, I follow the principle of: live and let live.

Let's face it: in the end it's all math. Set theory to be precise. Various dietary laws and life styles and you get to choose which you follow. There are overlaps and that means for example vegetarians have another label to look out for. Nothing bad about that.

The main thing the author, in my not so humble opinion, tried to stress is that there is no particular inherent health benefit. While observing Jews (or as we saw Muslims concerning Halal) see this as self-evident, the misconception could exist with people that never bothered to read up on these things. And yes, I think the article has actual value for these people.

Shalom. As-Salāmu `Alaykum. Peace.



I say, you are what you eat. If you eat animals that are slaughtered in such a way that it lessens the amount of pain that the animal experiences you will most likely feel better about consuming it.



I say, you are what you eat. If you eat animals that are slaughtered in such a way that it lessens the amount of pain that the animal experiences you will most likely feel better about consuming it.



I say, you are what you eat. If you eat animals that are slaughtered in such a way that it lessens the amount of pain that the animal experiences you will most likely feel better about consuming it.



This article is wrong on and in so many areas it needs to come down instantly.  I don't know where they are getting some of these ideas from but as a Kosher eating Jew, I can tell you the article is mostly misleading and leans on the side of totally false, intended or not. 

 



@wings2: could you perhaps substantiate your complaint? What exactly is wrong with it? I'm sure the authors are more than willing to replace factual errors with corrected data if you point it out and substantiate it with authoritative sources. One of the misconceptions (blessing the food) that the author addressed was even voiced again in one of the comments (making me doubt the commenter read the article to the end). So what exactly is wrong about debunking those myths and misconceptions? Is it the fact that the author isn't an observing Jew herself? Did you actually read the article to the end yourself?



There are several flaws the main one being focus.  It is hard to pin down what her real focus is within the article kosher meats or kosher labeled food products.  There are several flawed assumptions in the article on both counts.  Mostly in the realm of misleading statements or statements made out of a lack of knowledge.

To show the lack of focus between meat or food products, slaughter or food preparation the writer confuses Kosher meats with the act of Kashering meats, which are totally different things and processes.  Kashering is a completely separate technique.  In fact, the impression is given in the article is that is somehow has something to do with salmonella; is has nothing to do with salmonella prevention or trying to rid the meat of salmonella at all.

It is unclear in the article where the author is drawing the line at slaughter or processing other food items.  The verbiage is not clear and is misleading. She seems to shift between the two as if they were one thing.  An example is the idea of mixing produce with meat and dairy.  Since vegetables are parve they can be used in the processing of all three types of kosher food products, but what does that have to do with the slaughter or value of kosher meat?  It is only dairy that cannot be mixed with meat but again how does that effect the value of eating kosher meat?

You could go out and eat a batch of stinging nettle or poison ivy and it could even be labeled kosher, not healthy perhaps but kosher.  However, if you use badger musk to flavor those cherry suckers then those suckers won't get a kosher seal on them.  So the idea of produce being inspected is misleading and what types of flaws cause something not to be kosher not clear in her article.  Again, mainly because she shifts focus. 

Companies producing food products and want them to be labeled as kosher are inspected to make sure the product has the right stamp and that the ingredients on the label are in fact what goes into the product. Every item on the label is inspected and its plant inspected as well. Why, because only kosher products can go into kosher products.  It is not as simple as it sounds in the article.  A kosher product, not just food mind you, has every step of the production inspected right down to the the sealing of the item.

It is inspected from the items going in right down to the the glue being used to seal the product. This includes the soaps and cleaning agents that are used in the plant and on the equipment , the bug sprays used in the packaging area as well as in the boxes or containers of each ingredient.  Training is provided to the supervisors and guidelines for handling foods while on the line as well.  Again this is if she is talking food products in general and many have nothing to do with kosher meat at all.

For the most part but the bulk of the article is filled with confusing statements having little to do with kosher meats but more to do with kosher foods in general.  So although her title and ending are somewhat on the same topic the body of the article seems to be a confusing mess.

To demonstrate this in her closing paragraph she is speaking of kosher food and only the final sentence mentions meats alone.  Hindus for the most part don't eat meat at all and Muslims only abstain from pork.  Vegetarians do not eat meats either so why are kosher meats and issue for them?  She must be speaking of kosher food items in general not meats only.  Yet her closing sentence is strictly a statement on meats.

In closing, if her topic is indeed on kosher meats only, as her closing statement leads one to think, she should have stayed on topic and not wandered about so much discussing kosher food products.   If her conclusion is on kosher foods in general then she should have changed her opening and closing statement to reflect that idea and gotten more accurate information to substantiate her position.



I am really upset by this article. It seems that the author wikipedia'd the topic for a deadline and smashed together tidbits of information without really understanding it. For a more fleshed out review of why, please refer to @wings2's article above mine. Well said.

She immediately needs to edit out the part where she calls kosher a "deceptive advertising [practice]" or make an apology for her poor phrasing. As stated numerous times above, it is an essential branding for a particular diet governed by religious specifications. If she were seeking to clarify the difference between kosher and healthy, she could have easily done that without being inflammatory to the practice of a kosher diet.



@wings2: thanks. I think the salmonella point was targeted at the misconception that kosher is about hygiene (which I think some of it was, but mostly in the context of the Middle Eastern climate :)). The lack of focus is true and that is a pity.



For those of you who were offended or put off by the article, I sincerely apologize. The article was meant to help those who do not keep kosher understand what the increasingly visible kosher labels mean on familiar food products and dispel the health myths about kosher vs. non-kosher meat. This was not meant to demean or belittle those who keep kosher or Jewish Dietary Laws.



@carolyn_r: I think honesty counts for more than political correctness. It's clear that there are myths about "kosher" and I think that as someone who is clearly not an observing Jew you've still done a decent job debunking some. Alone the fact that one of the commentators repeated that myth about "blessing food to make it kosher", shows that myths exist. It's also obvious that Jews don't share those myths, mostly because they have been educated about kashrut laws, were socialized this way or are interested in the topic for self-evident reasons. Given the limited possibilities of written communication I think one should always assume the best rather than the worst intent in what another person writes.



Sometimes I really wish people would read and reread articles before they draw conclusions about them. I read this article, and as a non-Jew I saw value in it. There is a proliferation of labels being applied to food packages these days- gluten free, all natural, fat free, kosher....... The first and last are very important labels for those who follow diets based on these restrictions. This article is not aimed at those who follow Kosher diets. It's aimed at those who want to eat healthier and wonder if kosher eating has added health benefits. I read labels all the time and as someone who does not have a good idea of what Kosher means, this article helps me to understand, and decide if it's something I may want to incorporate into my own diet.

I did get a bit of an impression that the author felt that the Kosher label was a marketing gimmick, and if so I have to disagree with that. Even if only 15-25% of Jews keep kosher, those 15-25% still need to know if the food they want to buy has been correctly prepared. Kudos to manufacturers if they accommodate this segment of the population.



@latoyakvh and @vidarr made some good points here.

  1. When reading an article it's wise to read it at least twice before responding. Although @carolyn_r did make some obvious mistakes in understanding what kashrut is I could see her main point was to dispel the myth that kosher means healthier/cleaner food products. And that use of kosher symbols as a 'quick guide' might have some benefit only to very specific interest consumers, e.g. vegetarians not vegans (parve products can contain eggs or fish and still be labeled parve), people with dairy allergies.
  2. As we grow more health conscious we're not just looking at the advertising hype on a package of food. Instead we're reading labels and wanting to understand all the symbols we find there to see if they would be a 'quick guide' for us to use as well.
  3. Finally, as @vidarr said: It's also obvious that Jews don't share those myths, mostly because they have been educated about kashrut laws.

I'd like to end with an observation and question for @vidarr. When you responded to @wings2 you restated the myth that kashrut has some origin in hygiene. "I think the salmonella point was targeted at the misconception that kosher is about hygiene (which I think some of it was, but mostly in the context of the Middle Eastern climate :))" We Jews have another practice that has a similar myth. When we sit down to a meal where bread is consumed we wash our hands in a specific way. We could have come straight from a bath yet we still will wash our hands before we eat the bread. If it's for hygienic reasons, why wouldn't the bath be enough?



@ronit: keep in mind that this is a theory I have (about it being related to hygiene). My reasoning here is, that in the climate of the Middle East, even up to 4000 years ago, these rules probably made sense for hygienic purposes. Now if someone has a more conclusive theory I'd like to hear it :)



A lot of people have the misconception that Jewish people follow the Torah because it makes sense.

There are many things in the Torah that make no sense at all (to the human mind). Jewish people follow the Torah because it makes them closer to G-d and they believe that G-d has their best interest in mind.

The human mind is always searching for answers. While we may come to the conclusion that the reason there is a rule of washing hands before you eat is because of hygiene - the fact is you have to wash your hands anyway - even if you are just coming out of the shower.

You have to wash your hands before you eat bread but you also have to wash your hands if you touch (and this is not a conclusive list) say, mid-thigh, bellybutton, inner ear, your feet - if you scratch your scalp -- even when you visit the cemetery and attend a funeral. Also when you wake up in the morning before the morning prayers

One of the reasons behind the washing of hands in certain circumstances is basically a reference to the temple services that the priests conducted. Before prayers they washed their hands and feet because -how can you serve G-d without having clean hands and feet? The washing of hands is of a spiritual nature (in addition to the physical) it's to impress upon the person that you are serving G-d. You may have just stepped out of the bath, but if you consciously wash your hands before you eat bread and think about sustaining your body well so you can continue your day in the service of G-d - you've achieved the main goal.

Interestingly, eating properly (which CC members help motivate each other to do and what CC is all about ) is one of the things that the Torah also advocates. There is a verse in the Torah - where it's commanded to protect yourself from harm. Deuteronomy - Chapter 4 Verse 15. Can be loosely translated into many things. Protect yourself by eating properly not overindulging, not smoking. Basically living a healthy life is in the service of G-d!

So even though a label says 'Kosher' because it follows the rules of Kosher doesn't necessarily mean it's good for you - like full-fat ice cream with bazillions amounts of calories. But if you're pregnant for example and you crave it - there are Jewish laws that even allow a pregnant woman to eat pig if she will be seriously ill if she cannot satisfy herself with another option. What? you gasp? Yes! A pregnant woman can eat crispy bacon. (Of course you can try to convince her to have Ben & Jerry's instead - and you might succeed but if not a Rabbi may allow her to do so.

I hope my comments helps :)



As a Jewish woman who has, and will, always observe Jewish dietary laws (Kashrut), it is so helpful that the Orthodox Union (O-U) and many other supervising organizations have made it possible for me to have so many choices of to select from in any supermarket.  The symbolic icons take the doubt out of my shopping trip to my local Trader Joes.

The challenge of choosing the healthiest diet for myself is still quite there.

Thank you Calorie Count for giving me the support in that aspect of each day.



I understand the tendency for people to be offended by this article, because, even though I am not Jewish, it seems clear that the author was not an expert on the subject.  The author clearly did some research, but it is just as clear that kosher practices have deep roots in belief and tradition, and that your understanding of those roots changes and deepens when it is a part of your life or upbringing.

It is the same feeling I get when non-Mormons talk about Mormon beliefs they have read or heard about.  I am not Mormon - but my Mother is, and part of my extended family - and when the situation arises I correct people's misunderstandings.  Sometimes the facts are misunderstood, such as the 'magic underwear' thing, and sometimes their facts are wrong, such as the misconception that Mormons believe in polygamy.

So, I say that I understand the 'tendency' for people to be offended by this article, but I think they are mainly misunderstanding the author.  I don't feel that the author was commenting on religious beliefs or practices directly at all.  The author never said that there was no important reason for Kosher labeling.  Of course Kosher labeling matters to people that eat Kosher.  The article was written for non-Kosher eaters that might be attracted to Kosher labeled products because of the perception that they are better or healthier.   She made it clear that that was the focus of the article with, "There are a reported three to six million Jews in America and estimates suggest that only 15-25% of Jews keep kosher. So how is it that 25% of all new food products are being labeled as kosher?"

Yes, it could have been better stated, and you certainly have the right to be offended whenever you find something offensive.  Most offensive things people do and say are not as obvious as your boss slapping you on the rear (the stereotype of sexism at work).  However, and in my humble opinion, the article was about diet, not religion.  That is why the author did not write 20 pages about varying traditions, definitions of kosher, and levels of regulation thereof.  It was also not about whether or not kosher labeling had a purpose beyond attracting consumers (it obviously does!).

 I feel like everyone is so ready to be offended that we can't talk about anything.  You should always stand up for yourself and you shouldn't feel obligated to keep quiet when you disagree with others.  But going beyond what people are saying to assume something offensive is a social trend I am noticing, that I think most of us could work on (me included).  I

didn't find the article detailed enough to be super informative, but I was interested in the topic, and would like us to be able to continue to discuss any relevant health topics on this site. I appreciated those of you who added to the info about what Kosher really means in practice.



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Original Post by: kmishl

The author is an idiot. First, let's say half of the jews in America keep kosher. Many times the non-kosher Jews have to buy kosher to be able to offer to friends/family. It also allows companies to expand their consumer base and allow Jews to eat.. And make more money. Finally, with respect to basically calling people stupid and saying they know nothing about "health" and ignorantly buy kosher. I agree-- people are stupid. The "in" thing is vegan/vegetarian. "Skinny b*tch is in and meat is out. So why are their increased sales lately? Because lazy vegetarians/vegans just have to look for kosher and know it's ok to eat. They don't have to learn all the jargon.

Huh?  Kosher is not vegetarianism (meat is a-okay with Kosher) . . .



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From a Jew, who observes Kashrut, and loves caloriecount-- this article is pretty awful. 



No. Kosher is not any healthier than conventional food. Israel eats Kosher. According to statistics they did worse than US or European countries on most accounts such as heart disease, blood pressure, arthritis etc. Israel has LOTS of VERY fat people. especially women. worse than alabama. If you are trying to find medical or health aspects in kosher you are wasting your time. it's about religion and how you want to deal with it. same goes to vegetarians. most recent study from Univ. of Vienna published a clinical study where they followed some 8000 people. vegetarians and not. vegetarians did a lot worse. heart disease, occurrence of cancer, medical visits etc. do you think any vegetarian will go back to carnivore diet after reading that? i seriously doubt it. when beliefs are involved... logic rests.

by the way did you know that jews cannot eat eel fish? because it does not have scales. i found out just a coupe of years ago. still can't process that 



No. Kosher is not any healthier than conventional food. Israel eats Kosher. According to statistics they did worse than US or European countries on most accounts such as heart disease, blood pressure, arthritis etc. Israel has LOTS of VERY fat people. especially women. worse than alabama. If you are trying to find medical or health aspects in kosher you are wasting your time. it's about religion and how you want to deal with it. same goes to vegetarians. most recent study from Univ. of Vienna published a clinical study where they followed some 8000 people. vegetarians and not. vegetarians did a lot worse. heart disease, occurrence of cancer, medical visits etc. do you think any vegetarian will go back to carnivore diet after reading that? i seriously doubt it. when beliefs are involved... logic rests.

by the way did you know that jews cannot eat eel fish? because it does not have scales. i found out just a coupe of years ago. still can't process that in my mind 



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