Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Good Pig - Kosher issues

Good Good Pig CoverSy's husband is Jewish. Howard's parents
"...were observant Jews, sufficiently Orthodox to keep separate plates and silverware for milk and meat in their home. It was enough that they had to tolerate a shiksa wife - - but a pet pig?
To my relief, they had no problem with Chris. "Just don't eat him," said my father-in-law. When it came to pigs, at least, I was in perfect accordance with the code of Leviticus." (Page 52 - hyperlink added)
One of the most "visible" differences between religous customs are dietary restrictions. Jews and Muslims don't eat pork. (I'm simplifying.) Buddhists don't have any absolute restrictions, but eating another living thing hits pretty low in their ranking of suggested practices. Seventh Day Adventists have strong rules about acceptable dietary practices.

Without starting a deep, theological discussion, what do you think led to the the religious dietary restrictions?

The reasoning I've heard most frequently is these restrictions originate with health concerns. We hear about pigs and trichinosis. One of the points that the author makes in the book is that pigs and humans are so alike that pig skin can be used as a temporary skin graft for humans. (See pages 66-67). Another book, Living With Pigs by Chuck Wooster, also comments on the similarity, and suggests that pigs and humans are so similar that they can share diseases. Wooster strongly recommends NOT feeding pigs table scraps, as pigs could pick up any diseases the human diners had...

In ancient times, there were difficulties with refrigeration and with adequate cooking. This would make safe food handling more difficult, and dietary restrictions far more important.

I cannot use an egg that even looks like it may be cracked. If I start to open a can of tomato sauce, and it makes a Pffft! noise when the can opener cracks the seal, I'm apt to put on a pair of rubber gloves and take the can out to the trash, in a sealed plastic bag, then wash my hands obsessively.

What food handling habits have you picked up?

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