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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  32 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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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
It was an interesting summary of the kosher food industry but at times too detailed. I wonder how she found all of the people that she interviewed. I especially liked the stories that I could relate to - I remember when Oreo cookies became kosher and when the kosher Subway opened at the Cleveland JCC.
Paulo Adalberto Reimann
Very good

Sue Fishkoff dismistifies why almost all food in the US grocery stores have the small circle with an u inside. Circle U. All is a matter of trust. In Brazil, where I live, kosher certified food pops out all around. From milk to nuts, meat to fish.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Well researched and an unbiased look at all aspects of the industry
Warren Friedman
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul Froehlich
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
All consumers buy kosher products, whether they know it or not. Even products not aimed at Jews, such as Easter bunnies and Christmas candy, may be certified kosher.

So why has the kosher food industry expanded so far beyond Jewish consumers? The main reason, explains Sue Fishkoff, is that kosher food appeals to consumers who have no religious motivation, but who perceive kosher food as better quality and safer than noncertified alternatives. That’s why food manufacturers willingly pay fees rangi
Liss Carmody
Feb 24, 2012 rated it liked it
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 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
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Oct 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
J L's Bibliomania
May 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, jewish, z-2013-reads
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. ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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). ...more
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Haley Beth
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. ...more
Michelle Schingler
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
The book was really fun, informative, great writing. NYPL Bernstein Award consideration.
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Barry Friedman
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I know a lot about Kashrut, but I'm learning, in this book, about the business of Kashrut, which is quite interesting. ...more
Yael Cohen
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A very enjoyable read so far. I like how it makes you think about the food in stores and the development of food cultures.
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2011
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. ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting look at world of OU, Star-K, etc. and why eco/ethical kashrut may become even more important (hopefully).
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Stan Cowan
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A must read for those interested in another side of the food business.
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Fishkoff did a wonderful job presenting kashrut from all perspectives and opinions in a unbiased and informative manner.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!!!
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sad book, made me doubt my faith.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enthralling until the last chapter. Only thing missing was a truly dairy dedicated chapter.
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