What is strictly forbidden in Kosher foods?

We all know that Kosher foods are the foods consumed by the Jewish people, which meet the requirements of their religion, but how much do we actually know about Kosher foods? What are the foods that Jewish individuals cannot eat? Why is that the case? Here is a brief rundown of the foods that are forbidden to be consumed under Kosher law.

First we will look at meat. Kosher meat must comply with a number of rules under Jewish dietary law. The only types of meat that can be consumed are cattle and game that has cloven hooves and, in the word of the Torah, “chew the cud”. If for example the animal only qualifies for one of these, like the pig for example, then its meat cannot be consumed. Animals that are Kosher are bulls, sheep, lambs, goats, veal, springbok and cows. When the animal is slaughtered, it must be done under the supervision of a Kosher Supervisor. The carcass must be have the blood removed, as well as the veins and the skin. To do this the meat is trebered, then soaked in a bath, then put on special salting tables for an hour on each side.

For birds, the only birds that can be consumed are goose, duck, chick and turkey.

All dairy products must come from Kosher animals and it must not contain any additives that are not Kosher.

One interesting Kosher rule is that it is against dietary law to combine meat and milk. According to the Torah, you cannot cook a young animal in the milk of its mother. As such, milk and meat products can never be mixed together, whether it is cooking them together, or serving them together at the table.

Eggs are allowed, but not if they contain eggs, so all eggs must be examined individually.

Only fish with fins and scales can be consumed, which includes tuna, herring and salmon. Lobster, crab, mussels and shrimp cannot be consumed.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

New To Organics? What Should You Enjoy First?

usda-organic-sealIf you have spent your life eating processed foods, you are making a good choice by moving towards organics. Organic food is good for you and it is good for the environment. If you are new to organic food though, you may be wondering what exactly you should begin with eating organic. One thing you are going to discover is that there are a lot of products out there that advertise themselves as being organic, but that is far from the case. For example, if you buy a container of juice and it says it is organic, it may have been organic early on in the process when it was grown but by the time the juice has made its way to you at the grocery store, it is no longer organic because of the various products put into the juice over the course of that time.

As well, “all-natural” does not mean that it is organic. It really means nothing, so it is best to just ignore things that say “all-natural” as that is an example of greenwashing.

The first thing you should get that is organic are fruits and vegetables. this is where you see the biggest advantages to organics, and it is really what you should be focusing on when you are going organic. Ensure that the organics that you buy are certified organic by a government agency. This is the only way to know for certain that the products you are buying are actually organic. You can get organics at a farmer’s market, but this is not always guaranteed to be organic, but it is more likely than if you buy organic food at the grocery store.

When you go organic, nothing will taste the same again. Everything will taste better, you will feel healthier and you will be helping the planet in the process.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Is Grain Fed and Free Roam, Organic?

HerefordWhen you hear about organic, you think of it as being related to no pesticides, herbicides or hormones. What about grass fed and free roam? For many people, it is important that the food that they eat is coming from animals that were treated properly and in a natural manner. This means no cages, no harsh hormones, etc being put into the bodies of the chickens, pigs and cows.

Is this organic though? In many ways it is because it is more natural, and it is treating animals in a more natural manner. There are also rules in place related to grain fed and free roam, so that companies are not just stating that their products are free-roam and grass-fed. That being said, the rules related to free range and grass-fed are much more liberal than those related to organics.

In the United States, free-range regulations only apply to poultry, and it requires that the animals be allowed access to the outdoors. There is no requirement on the size or quality of the outside environment. The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Inspection Service requires that chickens raised for their meat have acess to the outside to receive the free-range certification. It doesn’t have to be pasture, and can be dirt or gravel.

For grass-fed animals, this is often labeled as organic, or natural. Pasture or grass-fed animals are often termed as free-range animals because they are in a pasture, eating grass. There are also corn-fed animals, but these animals are not considered to be organic because the animals are not eating the diet that is natural for them. You should always make sure that the meat you are buying is pasture-fed or grass-fed, as these are the best for the animals and the environment.

Organic doesn’t always mean grass-fed or free-range, but it is a step in the right direction.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Organic on a budget

downloadGoing organic is a good way to stay healthy, but it is not always cheap. That being said, organics are getting cheaper by the day, but there are still ways that you can order organic food online, and keep things cheap at the grocery store. Just follow these tips to being cheap on an organic budget.

The first thing to do is to buy organic is to buy the food in its raw form. When food is processed, it becomes more expensive. That is where organic prices go up. Try to buy food that is raw and unprocessed, to give you the most control over your food and your wallet.

Next, cook everything from scratch. This not only makes you a better cook, but it also helps prevent additives and preservatives from being mixed into what you eat, because you know everything you are eating is organic.

Instead of buying things you need that day, buy in bulk. When you purchase items in bulk, you are making it cheaper for yourself in the long-run. Buying in bulk can seem more expensive at first, but if you are really into organic cooking, and you use a lot of ingredients, then it is really the best option for you, and it will be the cheapest option for you in the long-run.

Another good option is to ensure that you buy your produce in season. In season organic produce is going to be cheaper than if it is out of season. This also helps you have more variety over the course of your year, since you will be buying different foods for each season.

Choose foods that are better for you organic. What we mean by that is that some foods are so coated in chemicals during the growing process, that if you buy them organic, you are getting the most benefit. If you can’t afford to buy all food organically, buy the ones that are the most chemically-laden, and choose to have them organic.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Tahini Tips

imagesWhen you are looking to cook a good Tahini meal, you want to get the most out of the tahini. For one, it is a fantastic product that can do a lot of good for your body, thanks to the high protein and many other beneficial minerals and vitamins found inside.

If you want to get the most out of the tahini though, try these smart tips.

  1. Tahini is often used as part of a sauce, so why not use it as a salad dressing. Of everything tahini is used for, this is probably the most common. Take a few spoonfuls of tahini and mix it with the salad to create a taste that is creamy and rich, without being overpowering to what you are eating.
  2. Tahini also makes a great dip. Tahini, after all, is a big ingredient in hummus, but you can certainly make it a dip of its own. If you want, mix it with some sour cream and use pita chips to dip into it. This is a great way to really enjoy tahini.
  3. A lot of people like to mix yogurt into their smoothie or into their granola. You can do them one better by mixing in tahini. Tahini works great in granola, especially because it is already a nut butter, so you are really complimenting things. In smoothies, you can add it in and get a great shot of protein, and a healthy dose of several other vitamins, in an already healthy smoothie.
  4. Lastly, you can put tahini into brownies and cookies. Tahini can take the taste of a desert and bump it up to the next level. Tahini offers a sweet, earthy flavour to deserts, so it is really something you should try.

Tahini is a very healthy, natural product that has been used in the Middle East for centuries as a dressing and paste. Now you can discover how good it is too.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

The Growth of Organic Wine

downloadOrganic wine may seem like a new thing, but it is quickly becoming a standard for many people who enjoy wine and wine tasting.

Essentially, organic wine is wine that has been grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. The use of organic wine has steadily increased as well. In 2009, the consumption of organic wine grew by 3.7 per cent alone, and it has continued to grow and outpace the growth of the consumption of non-organic wine since then. It is estimated that there are currently, 1,500 to 2,000 organic wine producers throughout the world, with nearly 1,000 located in France alone.

In conventional wine growing, chemical fertilizers are used in order to promote a larger yield and protect from disease, but the problem is that these chemicals are then absorbed into the sap, and passed into the leaves and the fruit. Eventually, these chemicals make their way into the finished wine itself. The chemicals also damage soil and water quality, so many wine growers are looking to go organic. Many people do not even realize that many wine growers actually use hazmat suits and breathing apparatuses when spraying the vines, and we are putting that into our bodies.

In the United States, there are very strict rules in place for the growing of organic wine, covering all aspects of the growing, harvesting and production. Even the types of yeast, the storage conditions and more are all considered with organic wine.

In the United States, to receive organic certification on wine, there must be suffite levels of less than 20 parts per million.

In the United States as well, the National Organic Program handles the certification of organic wine, through the United States Department of Agriculture. Many different nations are also using certifications of organic, through government agencies.

It should also be noted that many wineries are organic without the certification, because they have always grown organically through their history.

There are also natural wines that only use native yeasts in the fermentation process and no sulphur dioxide. Roughly 10 per cent of all organic wine in the United States is natural wine.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Kosher Food Symbols

imagesWhen you are looking to eat kosher, you want to make sure what you are eating is actually going to be kosher. Just like organic certifications, there are kosher certifications to put the consumer at ease that what they are eating is actually going to be what it it says it is. In order to make sure you are actually eating kosher food, look for these companies and symbols on the food that you eat.

First of all, the four biggest kosher supervision companies in the world are all found in the United States and they use the symbols OU, Kof-K, OK and Star-K. They are very recognizable and if they have their symbol on the food, then you know for sure that it is kosher.

Other well-known and reputable agencies include:

  1. Regional American Kosher Certifiers: These are the companies that regionally approve kosher meals. The United States has more of these than any other country in the world, and they are often found in areas where there are large groups of Orthodox Jewish individuals. New York, New Jersey, California and Florida all have several.
  2. International Hecshers: The big four have already been mentioned, but there are several other international agencies that are very reputable and can be trusted. These are London Beit Din, Kashrus Council of Canada, Kosher Australia and Rabbi Mordechai Rottenberg, or the Chief Rabbi of Paris.
  3. Israel has many agencies, and any one of the agencies based in the country will have reputable kosher practices and will be safe to import into the country because of the strict guidelines that they follow.
  4. Speciality Certifications: These are certifications where the food is kosher, but also vegan, organic, or GMO-free. There are many companies that offer these certifications but the biggest are EarthKosher and Natural Food Certifiers.

If you are looking for kosher food, make sure it comes from an agency that is reputable with a long-history of customer satisfaction.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Why Should You Eat Tahini?

imagesTahini is a unique dish that is foreign to many in Western countries, but it has been consumed in India and the Middle East for centuries. It is a simple paste, made from whole sesame seed, that has a great many health benefits for the body. There are many reasons why you should be eating Tahini, and these are just a few.

The first major reason is the fact that it is full of minerals that the body needs including lecithin, potassium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. It is also a huge source of methionine, which helps your liver detox your body, which in turn keeps you healthy and happy.

Our bones need calcium and a lack of calcium can cause severe problems in our old age. As such, Tahini is a great dish for getting calcium back into the body as it is a big source of it. It is also a big source of vitamin E, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15.

Studies done on Tahini have also found that it can promote healthy cell growth in the body, which is important for keeping us healthy and looking young. On a similar note, it can prevent anemia from developing while also maintaining healthy skin and muscle tone in the body.

One major benefit from Tahini is the fact that it is made up of 20 per cent protein. This actually gives it a higher amount of protein per serving than you get from nuts, and you can use Tahini in so many dishes that nuts are not a part of. While it is high in protein, it is very easy for the body to digest because it has a very high alkaline mineral content. This in turn can help you lose weight because of how easy it is for the human body to digest.

Tahini is also very high in unsaturated fat, which is the good fat that helps to clear your arteries and keep you healthy.

So, try a dish of Tahini today and start feeling healthy immediately!

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Why Organic Is Good During Droughts

usda-organic-sealAs we all know, California is quickly running out of water with the state having roughly one year of water left in it. This is a very serious situation, but once again it shows the importance of having a different mindset for the food we eat. While we have become dependent on foods grown with the use of chemicals, organic can actually be better for the environment during a drought. Studies have found that organic produce and growing is better during a drought, which may help lower the cost of organic food in the long-run. In an analysis of 100 studies at the University of California, it was found that organic farming created a mix of biodiversity in the soil and the environment around it, that was nearly impossible for synthetic chemicals to mimic.

While organic farms are typically 20 per cent less productive than conventional farms, that gap is slowly narrowing as more and more investment and research goes into organic farming.

In another study done by Rodale Institute, they looked at the productivity of organic farms and conventional farms from 1981 to now. They found that organic plots on the property outperformed the conventional ones, in the long-run, especially when there was something like a drought happening. It also found that organic farms are far more resilient of droughts than conventional farms. They also handle things like frost and flooding easier.

Essentially, it comes down to what is in the soil. Organic farms build up organisms in the soil and bacteria that helps it survive during tough times. The soil, organisms and all the plants develop into a mutually-dependent relationship. For example, fungi provide channels for nutrients and water to go up into the plants from deep in the soil. This allows the plants to absorb less water and need less water overall.

As you can see, going organic is good for you and the environment, especially when droughts are causing severe problems for California.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg

Know What You Buy

downloadWhen you go to the grocery store, it can be very easy to just buy what you think you will enjoy, without looking at the ingredients. Often, you choose what will taste good, even if it is bad for you. Our brains are wired for immediate gratification and we get more of an immediate gratification from eating something like chocolate chip cookies instead of an organic pear. It can be hard to fight this, but it is important that we choose not to eat food that is bad for us, and bad for the environment.

Processed foods taste great, but have you looked at the ingredients? They are not exactly made for consumption. Here is a tip, if you can’t pronounce what the ingredient is, you probably shouldn’t be ingesting it. Yes, it tastes great, but there is a huge amount of bad stuff in it that can really harm your body over the course of time.

You need to have the willpower to choose good real food that is organic. Real food is food that is just that, real. It is food you can eat right off the tree, without having to mix anything with it. It is organic, and it is good for you and good for the environment. The world is going through an obesity epidemic right now, and a big part of that is the processed food we keep putting into our bodies. Those processed foods stay with our body, in our fatty tissue, slowly harming us. Sure, sometimes eating a Twinkie tastes much better than eating a plum, but in the long run, the plum is going to do you a lot more good than if you are eating the Twinkie. Ya, you can have bad food on occasion, but your diet should be good food, that is organic. You need to know what you are buying, and what you are eating. It can do a lot to help you lose weight and feel healthier for many years to come.

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Written by: Yehudith Girshberg