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Ivan Novikov

25.03.2016
11:04

The price of kashrut




Observing the commandments of Judaism requires increased attention to everyday matters. The rules of kashrut demand a more attentive approach in choosing ingredients and organizing the kitchen. Additionally, far from all the ingredients permitted for consumption by religious Jews can be bought at the neighborhood supermarket. The price of ingredients also differs, because of the special supervision of the quality of production of meat, fish and milk.

On average, a kilogram of kosher meat or cheese costs practically twice as much as the non-kosher equivalent. On the other hand, the conditions of keeping animals in farms where kosher slaughter is practiced are close to organic ones, and the quality of products is much higher than in other shops.

In this article we will look at to what extent the daily expenses increase for a family that to moves to a kosher diet.

What is kashrut?

Kashrut is a system of rules that determine whether certain substances comply with Jewish law. When applied to food, the concept of “kosher” determines whether a product is suitable for a religious Jew, and whether it is prepared correctly. Additionally, the norms of kashrut establish rules for the storage and actual consumption of food – for example, a pause between dairy and meat products, and the prohibition on eating meat and fish at the same time.

It is easy to establish whether an animal is kosher – it must chew cud and have cloven hooves to be suitable for consumption. Additionally, poultry may be eaten: chicken, duck, turkey and goose. Also, to ensure that the meat of the animal is kosher, it must be slaughtered by a specially trained butcher – a shoikhet. The meat of kosher animals not slaughtered by a shoikhet is considered treif (non-kosher).

The main indication of whether is a fish is kosher is that it has scales and fins. If it is hard to detect these signs, specialists look at the fish’s gills and spine, which only kosher fish have. Additionally, fish which are permitted for eating must spawn. If a fish complies with all five points, it is kosher, while other types of fish, such as mollusks and crustaceans, are not kosher.

The main laws of kashrut concern the main drink of any Jewish celebration – wine. Kosher wines do not differ in their essence from non-kosher wines, but they are prepared under the supervision of a person who is authorized by the community to supervise preparation of wine. Any drink made on the basis of wine spirit is also not considered kosher if its preparation was not supervised by a mashgiach.

The benefit of kosher food

“I think you need to ask a dietician this question. But we know that kosher food is not just eating products that are allowed by Jewish laws, but the actual culture of eating, the division of meat and dairy products, and eating meat after fish. From this we may draw conclusions about the benefit of kashrut and its effect on the human body,” says Itskhak Karasik, the chairman of the board of the “Esh a Tora” community in Kiev.

However, there are numerous discussions about the benefit of kosher food, including even in non-Jewish environments. Dieticians compare kashrut with the popular practice of separate eating, which prohibits eating meat and dairy products at the same time.

On the other hand, a clear advantage of eating kosher meat is its quality. The goal of the shoikhet is to slaughter the animal in the most painless way. Additionally, the butcher inspects the health of the animals and the conditions they are kept in, as the meat of a sick or injured animal will not be considered kosher. The supervision of quality of products, raised to the level of a religious commandment, does not allow for compromises – chicken purchased at a kosher store will be fresh and nutritious.

What it costs

The price of kosher products is almost double the price of non-kosher equivalents. The difference is caused by the relatively low demand and the stricter conditions for keeping animals and preparing products. Additionally, the price is affected by the services of the shoikhet and mashgiach and the constant supervision of the state of animals.

Name

Kosher (hryvnia per kg/l)

Non-kosher (hryvnia per kg/l)

Chicken

70

58-62

Chicken fillet

150

70

Beef

160-220

75-90

Beef

150

from 75

Mayonnaise

50

from 25

Sausage

от 200

from100

Milk

25

from15

Wine

60-150

from 35

*Average price in three major Kiev supermarket chains. Products from the medium and low-end price segment.

Products which do not require the supervision of a mashgiach in preparation can be purchased at any supermarket:
Any vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, sugar, flour, eggs and grain can be bought at a supermarket without a problem, but before consumption they must be examined for insects. In supermarkets you can also buy products permitted under kashrut – macaroni, chocolate, canned fish, canned corn and peas, salted goods, fish, nuts, raisins, yeast, spices, and dairy products (not halav Israel). In some supermarkets products with the kashrut sign are sold – canned fish, sauces, humus, wine. You can also buy alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages with this sign,” says Itskhak Karasik. “Any information about whether certain products are kosher can be obtained at synagogues and from rabbis who are kosher experts. Kosher meat, sausage and dairy products (halav Israel), mayonnaise, ketchup, confectionary and many other things can be bought at shops at synagogues or at community centers.

The majority of types of beer, vodka, whiskey and gin are permitted alcoholic beverages. It is not recommended to drink whiskeys kept in barrels used for sherry or wine.

Conclusion

The high price is formed by the limited demand for kosher products. If demand starts to increase, the price will also drop. At the current prices for essential kosher products, moving to a kosher diet will raise the average monthly family food budget by around 50 percent.

Despite the high cost of products, more and more Jewish families are moving to a kosher diet. At present the amount of kosher products available satisfies the everyday requirements of the Ukrainian Jewish community.

“There are numerous organizations working in this sphere. In Ukraine a large assortment of meat, dairy and confectionary products, as well as baked goods, are sold. Additionally, the production of kosher wines has been established. Our wish and hope is that in the near future it will be possible to buy any kosher product at supermarkets,” concludes Itskhak Karasik.

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