What Is Kosher Produce?

If you’re not familiar, “kosher” is a Jewish word that roughly translates “fit or suitable.” Today’s use most often refers to a set of strict dietary guidelines followed by Orthodox Jews. Brands all over the country and around the world are beginning to be more aware of dietary restrictions, and with that, many are seeking kosher certifications. But what is kosher, and how does it apply to produce growers? Read on to explore the ins and outs of kosher produce.

Kosher Categories

In the most basic terms, kosher foods fall into three categories:

  1. Fleishig: Meats and meat products, including things like broth or schmaltz (rendered fat)

  2. Milchig: Milk and dairy products

  3. Pareve: Everything else, including fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds

These three categories are important because you can never serve milchig and fleishig in the same meal, but pareve foods can be combined with either of these categories. Kosher produce falls into the pareve category, but surprisingly, not all produce is kosher. 

Kosher Produce Standards

In their pure and unprocessed state, fruits and vegetables are undeniably kosher as they contain neither dairy nor meat products. But for those who follow a kosher diet, purity is key.

The most common way that unprocessed produce can be disqualified from a kosher diet is through insect infestation. The Torah (the Jewish holy book) mentions a prohibition against consuming insects five times, and the rule is considered very strict. This means that any crop that may be contaminated with insects or the remains of insects is not kosher. 

Insect-infested produce can be made kosher by careful examination and removal of any insects or insect parts. However, this can be very challenging for some types of produce where it is nearly impossible to see into all of the folds and crevices where tiny insects could hide. 

Kosher Certification

There are five main kosher certification agencies in the US: 

You’ve likely seen their certification logos on products in your pantry, though if you’re not Kosher, you may not realize what they are. 

Kosher certifications can be challenging to achieve for growers. In general, the focus is on cleanliness and washing systems. There are several steps to the process, and each one can be difficult to pass if your produce shows any signs of contamination. 

First, the certification agency will examine a sample of your crops. If this sample is determined to be clean, they’ll move on to the next step, a site inspection. In this inspection, certifiers will examine your entire operation, including the condition of growing plants and how they are handled after harvest. 

Once certification is achieved, each crop must continue to be inspected before and after washing. The after-wash inspection is the most difficult to pass as any evidence of insect matter, no matter how minimal, will render the entire crop unsuitable for Kosher certification. In some cases, Rabbis must be present for the washing process to ensure that everything is done to the highest standards and purity is achieved.

Kosher Greenhouses

One of the best ways to get a kosher certification is to ensure your crops have minimal chance of insect infestation in the first place. While this is simply not possible for open-air growing, greenhouses can offer a high level of protection against pests and contaminants. 

If you’re looking for a method of growing that simplifies the kosher certification process, look no further than Eden Green Technology’s hydroponic greenhouse system. Cleanliness is maintained throughout the growing process and paired with regular inspections for any pests or other contaminants. In fact, our growing process is so clean, it’s often favored for R&D and other research-based growing that requires laboratory conditions. 

Want to learn more about our clean and pest-free greenhouses? RSVP for a virtual greenhouse tour of our R&D facility today, or contact our hydroponic experts to discuss how you can start a commercial greenhouse in your area.


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