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What is Kosher?

If you’ve ever looked at the packaging of the food you buy, you may have noticed a little sign that reads ‘kosher’ on certain products. Many of us might not know what that little sign entails or why it is important. Kosher, or Kashrut, is a principle of Judaism that applies to food. Eating foods that are kosher is one of the most important rules of Judaism and is essential to many Jews, whether they are practicing the religion or not. There are certain rules and regulations that determine whether a food is kosher or not. For example, only mammals that have split hooves and chew their cud are allowed to be eaten (cows, sheep, bison), only sea creatures that have scales and fins are allowed to be eaten, and meat and dairy cannot be eaten in the same meal. These principles makes certain foods, like pig and shellfish, not kosher and therefore not allowed to be eaten. There are also specific slaughter rituals that make meat kosher, meaning not all meat is kosher. For a product to be certified kosher, the company that makes the product must have a rabbi observe and approve of the process in which the food is made. Nowadays, many products in supermarkets in North America are kosher, or have a kosher alternative, which makes the diet more accessible to all who partake in it!