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Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America's Food Answers to a Higher Authority
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Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America's Food Answers to a Higher Authority

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  128 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Kosher? That means the rabbi blessed it, right? Not exactly. In this captivating account of a Bible-based practice that has grown into a multibillions-dollar industry, journalist Sue Fishkoff travels throughout America and to Shanghai, China, to find out who eats kosher food, who produces it, who is responsible for its certification, and how this fascinating world continue ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Schocken (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 287)
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A 5-star book, IMHO. Thorough, incredibly well-researched history and contemporary analysis of kosher food and practice, mostly in the U.S., but a bit globally as well. The most difficult chapters to read were the final two, as they forced me to confront two of the most important issues for kosher-keeping people today: when kosher food isn't ethically sound, and how to merge valuing environmental sustainability and keeping kosher.
Zev Friedman
Feb 28, 2012 Zev Friedman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I finished reading this about a month ago. Gosh, I read so many books and I'm just getting active on this site, and loving it! This was a fascinating book, to me! All the behind-the-scenes of kosher. So much stuff I never knew. And all the scandals and corruption in the kosher world, some intentional, some unintentional. Who knew? And that there are teeny tiny bugs in almost everything we eat which comes from the ground and no matter how many times you wash blueberries you can virtually never ge ...more
Liss Capello
Never have I learned so much about kosher certification, the kosher food industry as a whole, and the history of keeping kosher in America. Along the way I learned a fair bit about kosher food laws (and the general differences between Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform communities). Mostly this book focused on the industry, however, although it dove into the issues of ethical food (particularly meat) consumption towards the end and discussed grass-roots movements to produce small quantities of m ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Martin added it
A very thorough, very well-researched and quite revelatory book. It answers long-standing questions of mine with aplomb, like what exactly chasisidha shchita is and why it's so popular (partial answer: they're pretty much the only ones that do it, of COURSE it'll be their standard!) and what mashgichim do on a daily basis (answer: a LOT). She also leaves almost no stone unturned, covering every major kashrus organization, every major product and every major scandal. Ironically, the one item I ca ...more
This book starts out with great promise. It studies why the kosher food industry has become a multi billion dollar one, despite the fact that observant Jews who keep strictly kosher are just a small part of the market. There are some fascinating peeks into the processes, most fascinating is a "tour" of a Chinese factory where a large number of products used in food processing are made, despite the fact that being kosher is surely not important to those owning this factory.

The loss of a higher ra
An eye-opening book that reiterated some of what I thought to be true, dismissed some of what I thought to be true and codified some of what I thought to be true. I remain impressed that so many people who deliberately or specifically buy kosher products do so for "other" reasons (more healthful, vegan, Hindu, etc.). It remains to be seen if the kosher/CSA/organic model is sustainable, and whether some of these things will arrive in cities outside the large Jewish population centers (especially ...more
Sep 05, 2014 Beth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
Many parts were fascinating--I certainly learned a great deal, and found the glossary in the back extremely helpful. I agree with other assessments about the loose organization, but I am not sure there is a good way to tighten things up without strangling the flow and readability. I enjoyed the mix of facts, history, and personal anecdotes, ad would be interested in knowing more about how the trends she identified are playing out, since it has been almost five years since this was published.
J L's Bibliomania
Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America's Food Answers to a Higher Authority is fascinating but uneven. It reads more like a collection of essays than a cohesive whole. The chapters following individual Mashgiachim (Kosher inspectors), particularly the ones about grape harvesting and kosher supervision in China, were the highlight of the book. The chapters covering the history of Kashrut in America were rough to get through.
An interesting read for anyone who wants to know more about the "kosher industry." For the most part, Fishkoff takes a hands-off journalistic approach, reporting on her subject rather than judging it, which I appreciated. There were a few places, though, where I know she got the details wrong, which makes me suspicious about other aspects of the book (although the overall picture is probably fairly accurate).
It's true: good things come to those that wait. I put in my due diligence and was rewarded in the end. Fishkoff's last chapter is well worth muddling through the rest of the book. She provides interesting insight into the future of the Eco-Kosher food movement.I am impressed with the work that is being done on this frontier and am anxious to be a part of it.
Michelle Schingler
My tour guide through my own kosher year. Humorous, well-researched, lively--and the author directed my eye (and palate) to some impressive kosher vintners, for which I'm grateful. Will be reading more from this author.
The author shared a lot of interesting facts but the organization or thematic structure escaped me. Unfortunately, it made the book a little tedious to read despite all of the well researched facts.
I didn't realise Heinz was the first company to mass produce kosher foods back in 1923.

Plus the great Thin Mint incident of 2008? Good stuff. No one messes with the Girl Scouts!!!
Just when I thought everything about Jews and Kosherocity had been covered, lo and behold, there's 6 more chapters! But it was interesting and I did learn quite a bit.
Yael Cohen
I read this in 2 days over Pesach. It was a very well written easy read about the kosher food industry. I found the historical background particularly interesting.
This book was well-written and helped me understand the history of kashrut in America. Fishkoff also wrote The Rebbe's Army about Chabad in America.
Courtney Ali
It wasn't quite what I expected but still really good. I don't think someone who wasn't Jewish would find it as interesting.
May 31, 2014 Gwen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gwen by: 12.23.2010 Marginal Revolution
Shelves: religion
Excellent book - wished it were longer. Hydrox = the kosher alternatives for Oreos for years until Oreos were made kosher.
Ms. Fishkoff did a wonderful job presenting kashrut from all perspectives and opinions in a unbiased and informative manner.
A very enjoyable read so far. I like how it makes you think about the food in stores and the development of food cultures.
Barry Friedman
I know a lot about Kashrut, but I'm learning, in this book, about the business of Kashrut, which is quite interesting.
Interesting look at world of OU, Star-K, etc. and why eco/ethical kashrut may become even more important (hopefully).
The book was really fun, informative, great writing. NYPL Bernstein Award consideration.
Lots of interesting and informative and familiar details about the kashrus industry.
Stan Cowan
A must read for those interested in another side of the food business.
Sad book, made me doubt my faith.
Nancy G.
Nancy G. marked it as to-read
Dec 13, 2014
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