What is Kosher?

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What is Kosher?

Kosher is a set of dietary laws that govern the way those of the Jewish religion eat. Kosher also pertains to the proper way of preparing food. If a food is not kosher, Jewish religion forbids the consumption of such. Foods that are not kosher are termed ‘treif’.

Kosher, also known as kashrut, is derived from a Hebrew word meaning ‘fit’ or ‘correct’. These laws are derived from the Torah, in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Although these dietary guidelines exist in the Jewish holy book, no actual reason is given for them. There are three groups of food under kosher: meat, dairy and parve (basically ‘miscellaneous’)

For meats, some of the rules include: blood cannot be consumed and must be drained from any animal prior to consumption, and meats should be broiled clean. Certain animals also cannot be eaten at all, including rabbits, camel, rodents, amphibians and pigs.

Dairy cannot be handled with the same materials that have touched meat. Dairy also should never be eaten with meat under Kosher law.

Under parve, Jews are forbidden to eat grapes that were not grown by Jews. Fruits and vegetables must be inspected to make sure that they have no bugs before the can be considered kosher. Fish must have fins and scales to be considered kosher, and eating shellfish is forbidden.

The kosher way of slaughtering animals requires the butcher to kill the animal through a smooth, even slit in the throat that causes the animal the least pain possible before falling into unconsciousness (this only applies to herds and flocks, thus exempting fish). This is widely believed to be one of the most humane ways of slaughtering animals.

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