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Gaining Popularity in the United States
Kosher, which is a standard of quality given to food
by rabbis in accordance with a complex set of guidelines
based on scriptural instruction and oral tradition,
is growing in popularity in the United States. However,
it’s not only Jewish people that are going kosher
-- it’s everyone.
In fact, the growth of kosher-certified products in
recent years has been surprising even to the rabbis
who certify kosher foods. In the United States, one
study showed that the consumption of kosher-certified
foods rose sixty-five percent between 2003 and 2013.
Additionally, 28% of new foods and drinks that were
produced during the same period debuted kosher. Even
more interesting is that the same study revealed that
only approximately 15% of those who are eating kosher
are doing so because of religious beliefs.
The determination of whether or not a food is certified
kosher is group of rabbis who visit food processing
centers, trace ingredients, and consult with slaughterhouses
and fisheries to ensure that food is being created within
the standards of kosher. These discerning standards,
although based through religious texts and traditions,
are actually at their core simply healthy approaches
to eating and food production.
Kosher certified means that a food was determined to
have been created naturally without the use of chemicals
or pesticides. Animals must be treated fairly. Fish
must be sourced naturally. When it comes down to it,
these discerning standards are the same ones that many
Americans want for their families. The kosher label
makes it easier to determine if a food falls under these
sought-after standards. Particularly in the areas of
meat and fish, the kosher stamp of approval is important
to many Americans. Meat being kosher-certified means
that it was slaughtered humanely and that it was processed
under a strict set of rules with regard to cleanliness.
These standards appeal to a far-reaching group of people,
regardless of their religious affiliation.
Kosher is also helpful to those who have strict dietary
restrictions. For example, under kosher restrictions,
food is separated into three categories: meat, dairy,
and pareve, which means neutral. Pareve foods contain
no meat or dairy. Meat and dairy foods must not be created
or consumed together. So, if one is eating kosher, he
or she may eat meat or dairy along with a pareve food,
but all three cannot be consumed together. Therefore,
the determination of these categories is very strict.
So if, for example, an individual cannot have dairy,
he or she can purchase a product marked pareve knowing
that the product does not contain dairy.
In addition to the distinction of meat, dairy, and pareve,
during Passover, wheat and soy free products are available
for kosher consumption. Many Americans who have wheat
or soy allergies stock up on kosher goods that are produced
solely for Passover, such as cookies, margarine, and
chocolate that are produced wheat and soy free.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increased social
consciousness around food production, food processing,
food treatment, and the ingredients used in the products
we consume. The kosher label, while religiously affiliated,