KOSHER USA by Roger Horowitz
Columbia University Press
This book, which reads like a novel, follows the journey of kosher foods in the U.S. through generations, highlighting the bumps, the challenges the highs and lows along the way. The author shares experiences from his own family to trace this history, spotlighting iconic products such as Heinz beans, Manischewitz and Coca Cola and how they gained kosher certification.. and the controversial entry of Jell-O into the kosher conversation.
“ The author shares the details of the “contentious debates among rabbis over the incorporation of modern science into Jewish law; how Manischewitz wine became the first kosher product to win over non-Jewish consumers (principally African-Americans); the techniques used by Orthodox rabbinical organizations to embed kosher requirements into food manufacturing; and the difficulties encountered by kosher meat and other kosher foods that fell outside the American culinary consensus.”
The book spotlights kosher food influencers such as our own Atlanta Rabbi Tobias Geffen who made Coke kosher along with influencers like the animal-rights advocate Temple Grandin, a strong supporter of shechita, (Jewish slaughter practice). Kosher USA explores the overlap of Torah principles and modern scientific methods. The ever changing and expanding kosher world makes this book quite timely and significant as it traces the overlap and interaction of religion and science.
Some personal observations… kosher brands are multiplying and sales are booming. More and more mainstream companies have made the decision to go kosher. Why? To broaden their brand’s appeal and increase sales. In addition to the growing number of kosher homes particularly in the orthodox community, the number of non-kosher and non-Jewish shoppers seeking kosher is expanding. This group perceives that kosher meat and poultry are better. The reason -- ingredient transparency and the perception that kosher products are purer due to the extra level of inspection. Additionally the mainstream trend for more gluten free and dairy free products is growing; a kosher label helps to ensure the veracity of these claims.
As reported in Bakemag.com:” Of the 11 million Americans who buy kosher products, 20 percent are Jewish. Other kosher consumers include Muslims, Seventh-Day Adventists, the lactose-intolerant and vegetarians. Twenty-eight percent of the American population is affected by food allergies or sensitivities. The precise labeling on kosher products makes it easy for consumers to find dairy-free and meat-free items.
Ben & Jerry’s has been kosher certified by the Kof-K for about a decade. Now the brand has entered the non-dairy frozen dessert space with its 4 newly introduced vegan, on-dairy almond milk based flavors, also under the Kof-K agency. Even Starbucks has placed most of its VIA micro ground instant coffee line under the OU label.
Kraft foods is another example, kosher certifying most varieties of its Polly-O string cheeses and then there is the Oreo cookie. The statistics are quite amazing…sales of kosher certified foods have reached $17 billion annually, and trending upward.
Author Roger Horowitz concludes: “Kosher food its triumphs and limitations, our decision to observe or not forces Jews to remember that even if we feel rived by differences, we remain connected, and bound together…Whether we like it or not, we are still family, crowded around a table and arguing whether the food is fit and proper for us to eat.”
Question: Which product do you consider a kosher icon?
Twitter: #Entertowin KosherUSA by @Rogerhorowitz, book which shares the history of the kosher industry. Fascinating #giveaway #kosherstory
Free Giveaway - Kosher USA
Giveaway is limited to continental U.S. only. If not living in continental U.S, you may still enter and, if selected, "gift" your prize to a continental U.S. friend or relative. The winner will be notified by email. Once notified, the winner must respond within 48 hours or the prize will be awarded to the runner-up.
This giveaway has ended as of August 16, 2016. The winner is Yehuda Nathan of Brooklyn, NY.
If you just can't wait to see if you are the winner (or want to buy one), you can order online here: Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)