Over the years, kosher organic cheese has become much more popular and consequently easier to find. Where it was once made and sold only through small or family stores, today there are several companies catering to organic-minded kosher families. It's important to note, however, that just because a food is kosher does not mean it is organic.
What Makes a Cheese Kosher
A kosher food is one that follows the rules of the Torah, the foundational text of the Jewish faith. To understand what makes cheese "kosher," it is necessary to know a few tenets of what being kosher actually means. Here are a few basic principles to know.
- A kosher animal must have cloven hooves and should chew its cud. This means the pig, among other animals, is forbidden.
- Shellfish are not allowed.
- Approved animals must be slaughtered according to the rules of Jewish law.
- Utensils used on non-kosher foods may not be used.
- Meat and dairy (this includes cheese) cannot be prepared or eaten together.
Foods derived from animal sources, like cheese, eggs, and milk, must also adhere to these rules. Cheese, in particular, is a complicated product in the world of kosher foods, because it is often made using an animal enzyme called rennet. Because this product is often taken from an animal, it is absolutely crucial that the animal not only be kosher, but slaughtered according to the rules of the Torah. Rennet can also be made from non-animal sources.
Requirements for Organic Cheese Labeling
Organic foods are those that are produced using no or limited amounts of artificial (man-made) materials. In the United States, companies which produce and packaged foods as "organic" must obtain certifications, which ensure that their manufacturing processes and food products adhere to strict regulations. Cheeses with the organic label should be produced from animals fed a healthy diet and which are given no growth hormones.
Much like kosher foods, there was a time when it was rather difficult to find organic products. Today, the organic market makes up a healthy percentage of grocery goods and can be found in a variety of grocery stores, big and small. However, many people still like to shop farmers markets and local stores for their organic goods.
Where to Buy Kosher Organic Cheese
Again, the terms kosher and organic are not interchangeable and just because a product carries one label does not necessarily mean it can be classified as the other. If you are interested in eating a kosher, organic diet, you may need to do a little research before you shop. Because kosher foods are slightly more difficult to find than organic ones, when looking for kosher organic cheese, you should start with kosher retailers.
- Tillamook - This well-known cheese company not only makes a kosher cheddar cheese, it also uses milk from grass-fed cows and is therefore hormone-free.
- The Cheese Guy - These handcrafted artisanal cheeses are low-fat, kosher, and certified organic.
- Spoke Creamery - This company features certified kosher and certified organic cheeses in several varieties.
Checking Organic and Kosher Certifications
There are a variety of organizations through which you can check on the certification of kosher and/or organic products and get more information on living this type of lifestyle.
- Kosher Organics - Founded in 2007, the organization aims to bring awareness to the need of organic goods for consumers following a kosher diet.
- OK Kosher Certification - This certifying organization is one of the most recognized kosher organizations in the world.
- National Organic Program - A program of the United States Department of Agriculture, the NOP oversees the production, handling, and labeling standards and certification agencies for organic products in the USA.
Available at Your Local Grocery Store
It's now easier than ever before to find kosher organic cheese on the shelves of the grocery store you already frequent. All it takes is a little bit of research to ensure that the practices and manufacturing techniques satisfy the requirements of both kosher laws and organic regulations.