Kosher Anyone?

I left Southern Eastern Asia thinking about animal welfare, and considered quitting certain foods. Frankly when you consider the laws of Kashrut you start to understand why the Hebrews were very strict on what could be eaten, and what was not to be touched.

Deuteronomy, Chapter 14:8-10:

And the pig, because it has a split hoof, but does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You shall neither eat of their flesh nor touch their carcass.

The Hebrews developed their own set of strict food regulations based on what they call kashér, a term meaning “fit” in the context of ‘fit for consumption’.

The Hebrews distinguished between four-legged animals that chew their cud, such as cattle, goats, and sheep, etc. Pigs digest by chewing and swallowing food, as we do, so it they have a much higher rate of consumption, pigs eat and eat.

The pig was outlawed and why? We know one reason is it does not chew its cud, and the other reason the split hoof. In the Middle Eastern climate, the pig consumes a quantity of food that is disproportional to its value as a food source. Solid material is chewed thoroughly in a cow and in a pig, it digests the way we do. Pigs have a relatively simple, single-chambered stomach. Cattle and sheep have three additional chambers before the true stomach.

Another reason could be, ruminants are able to achieve a very high-efficiency of feed grinding, and produce a by-product that could have been used as fertilizer.

‘Rumen microorganisms themselves are very effective – they synthesize protein from low-grade nitrogenous materials such as ammonium salts and urea added to the feed. Equally important, they utilize sulfate to produce the essential amino acids cysteine and methionine, and they also synthesize B group vitamins, particularly vitamin B12. Rumen microorganisms obtain their own energy anaerobically with only a relatively low energy yield. Thus, the ruminant is able to take the residual energy from products of fermentation such as acetic, propionic, and butyric acids. The acidity of these substances is buffered by sodium bicarbonate from the saliva.’ Source:

The long and short of it, a pig is inefficient, it eats and sleeps, and basically defecates everywhere and takes the liberty of rolling in its own.  I too would avoid pig in those times, it was low to the ground, useless in terms of work, dirty and noisy. It is obvious when it comes to animal hygiene that the pig has the appropriate name.

In addition, some of the health benefits to be derived from kashrut were not made obsolete by the refrigerator. For example, there is some evidence that eating meat and dairy together interferes with digestion, and no modern food preparation technique reproduces the health benefit of the kosher law of eating them separately. There is no question that some of the dietary laws have some beneficial health effects. In all, after seeing first hand the hygiene practiced in Southern Asia, it begins to make sense.



Categories: Life Cycles

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