Kashrut and Health – Are they mutually exclusive?

It often seems that to those who keep kosher, healthy eating is left to slide.  Meanwhile, those on the outside, often think that Kashrut (the practice of keeping kosher) is inherently healthy.  So which is right? Can both be accurate?  I like to think so….

I have long been interested in the melding of kashrut and healthy eating.  I think that Judaism places such an emphasis on the value of human health, and too often we forget that when it comes to our food.  The laws of kashrut are so specific, that it is easy to follow them to the letter and ignore the fatty way in which we are preparing them. There are plenty of seasonings which are not high in sodium or fat, which can still make a mean chicken soup, brisket, and kugel – I promise!

I think the essential component is to admit this, and to take a step back and really look at our diet.  The catch phrase of late “don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food” is just the start.  Even my grandparents ate a lot of processed food, and I like to hope that I am a catalyst for changing the diets of those around me as they adapt to what I am willing to cook and serve in my home, and what I will eat in other people’s homes.  While of course I do not make anyone else cook the way I do, I can be selective in what I eat anywhere.

You are the only person who can take responsibility for the food you eat.  So if you care enough to uphold the laws of kashrut, why not hold yourself to a higher health standard?  Make a more conscious effort to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned ones which no longer resemble their original form.  Select brown rice and whole grain breads and pastas instead of their white counterparts. These small differences in your diet, can make a huge difference in your health!

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2 thoughts on “Kashrut and Health – Are they mutually exclusive?

  1. I joke that Michael Pollan’s “don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food” should be changed to “don’t eat anything SOMEONE’s grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” especially for those of us of Eastern European descent. Schmaltz may be natural, but it’s hard to justify it as healthy; conversely, I’m pretty sure that my great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize many of the fruits and vegetables that I eat regularly.

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