Wednesday, August 26, 2009

James Ate Kosher.

...just wanted to make a quick update to remind Mo that I am teaching the book of James each Saturday at the Carpenter's Shop, and you can listen online, or download them here.

I had no idea that James was such a controversial guy. Evidently, few commentators of the Reformation believed that it was Jesus' brother who wrote the book, and just as many didn't want to include it into the canon of scripture. For the record, James ate food that was kosher. He was a Jew, raised in a Jewish home, in a Jewish community... and his older half brother was, well, God incarnate, so it is a safe assumption.

I still need to finish my thoughts on eating kosher, don't I?

Where does my family stand on this today? Thought you would never ask.
We buy foods that have a hechscher. It has to have the symbol - even if it is canned fruit, it has to be hechschered. We don't eat out often because of the expense of it, but when we do, we know which fast food places have kosher food, and which don't - we have to do a little research to find out, but it is worth it.
In the end, there is no guarantee that the food we get has no unclean things in it... unless it has the symbol - and even that sometimes is a little sketchy. Certain organizations are more strict than others. We typically stick with the most recognizable; there are literally hundreds of symbols, the "Circle U" being the most prominent around here (on right).
But what about meat? Meat is somewhat of an anomaly when eating kosher, as it has its own set of rules, and there are specific methods that make it kosher. As for now we still eat meat bought from the store, but that is subject to change. We are starting to lean more toward eating fish as our only meat - less to worry about.
I should note that none of this is hard. In fact, once you start looking at what is in the food we all eat, it is a little shocking at first and you will feel compelled to keep looking. This leads me to my next surprise in the drive to eat kosher:
...just what are "natural flavors?" Good question.
Here's the definition of “natural flavor” under the Code of Federal Regulations: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22)

Most disturbing find yet:
Did you know that L-cysteine, a common dough conditioner, flavor enhancer in human and pet foods, and precursor in some dietary supplements, is most often derived from human hair or duck feathers, and to a lesser extent from pigs' bristles and hooves? (from

Yes, human hair.

I'lll leave you with that for now. I still need to revisit the meat issue in greater detail, but I want to move on to the kippa (head covering) next, as it has been on my mind a lot lately...


Chris Cox said...

who's Mo? and L-cysteine? makes me nausious

Aaron Benge said...

Haha!!- Mo is my mother, and L-cystein is found in almost all breads that are not marked. "Wonder is kosher."
Mo doesn't eat kosher...yet.
Man, when are you coming back!?!? As I write this, I smell fresh challa baking, and Luke just put on a fresh pot of dark roast, primo-Shabbat coffee.
Long story short - we miss you, ans I want to talk Torah with ya in person, so lets speed it up a little, could we?