kosher foods at Whole Foods

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  • #604777

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello Coffee Room,

    The first Whole Foods has come to my area, and I was wondering what CR people’s experience has been in finding a wide variety of kosher food there that is high in quality and reasonably priced. I have little hope that their food will be reasonably priced but am hopeful that nonetheless there may be some kosher gems? Thank you for your recommendations as always!

    #896904

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello again Coffee Room,

    I am asking a follow-up question on this thread I began because I have been reading some things in the CR that confuse me regarding Kosher foods and drinks.

    As I write this post, I am looking at a box of Manischewitz matzo ball mix and notice the following designations that seem to be applicable:

    pareve

    a U in a circle

    a P

    Kosher for Passover and all year round

    What I am wondering is, are these symbols and statements enough of a guarantee that a product (at Whole Foods or anywhere else) is kosher enough to ingest?

    I have been uncertain after reading some things on, e.g., the recent thread about Dunkin’ Donuts.

    If these symbols and statements aren’t sufficient, what else should I be looking for on the packaging?

    Thank you for the guidance!

    #896905

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The Manischewitz is Kosher. The O-U stands for the Orthodox Union, Other common symbols you might see are A K in a circle O-K , A K in a star The Star K and the hebrew letter Kof which looks like a backward C with the K in the middle (A Kof-K)

    About the Dunkin Donuts, There is a idea of “Jewish Milk” or Chalov Yisroel, It is milk that was milked by a Jew , bottled by a jew etc. It used to be before Pasterazation things like Pigs Milk were used to keep milk fresh (Pigs Milk isnt kosher) About 50-60 years ago (I am not sure when exactly) a major Rabbi in the US Rabbi Moshe Feinstein rules that in the US Milk is from a cow and cannot be from a Pig because the government enforced the laws about Milk and most milking is done by machines anyway that only fit a cows udder and not a Pigs udder.

    Many more Charedi groups did not accept this and stick to the Kosher Milk only.

    IMO and most people who deal with Kiruv issues, They would not recommend you take up this stringency unless you are ready or want to. It is perfect OK and Kosher to Eat Breyers or Eddys Ice Cream and the Milk you buy in the supermarket.

    The Dunkin Donuts thread was about the Kosher Milk, It is likely that the Dunkin Donuts nearest to you is NOT Kosher though, most are not, only a few in NYC and Baltimore areas are Kosher to my knowledge

    #896906

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Pareve means something not dairy or Meat like an Apple or a Fish

    And Passover has special kosher laws so O-U pareve passover means something that is kosher for Passover that can be eaten with Dairy or Meat

    #896907

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Aurora, I have only been toa whole foods a few times in my life (I wanted to see what it was like), I used to car pool with this asian woman who used to call Whole Foods, Whole paycheck and when I visited whole foods I found the prices to be very high.

    There isnt a whole foods convient to me so I rarely go there anyway.

    However from what I did see, most items did not seem to be kosher anway, the meat for sure not. I cant help you get Kosher Meat, but Empire branded Chicken might be available to you at your local supermarket.

    #896908

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you so much for explaining all of this to me zahavasdad! I have heard the “Whole Paycheck” thing about Whole Foods too. I was hopeful that since they seem to market themselves as organic and concerned about environmental and and other issues that they might pay special attention to various dietary needs like kosher as well. Is there any food or drink that is kosher naturally? As far as coffee chains (and I do LOVE coffee!), is there any chain in which the coffee is kosher no matter which store you go to? I am truly thankful that Breyers is kosher…I love their coffee ice-cream, surprise surprise 🙂

    #896909

    shein
    Member

    A “U” in an “O” (i.e. a circle), is the kosher symbol for the Orthodox Union, the largest (by far) kosher cerifying agency in the United States. That symbol on a food product, indicates the product is kosher. The “P” next to the O-U symbol means the food product is not just kosher all-year round, but it is even Kosher-for-Passover use. (The 8 days of Passover has much more stringent kosher requirements.)

    The “pareve” designation indicates it has no dairy or meat in the food product (and this can be consumed with either dairy or meat products.)

    #896910

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you shein for explaining all of these distinctions to me!

    #896911

    daniela
    Member

    I don’t think you can rely on the internet, for example fish is pareve, but you can’t eat it with meat, much less cook them together. Also it would be very hard to make your kitchen kosher without asking for help. However, many people would be happy to help you for free.

    For the time being, perhaps you could tell us what you ordinarily eat, and may be we can give some advice.

    Most food of vegetable origin is intrinsically kosher, but it is important to make sure it is free of insect and parasites.

    #896912

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello Daniela,

    I eat a lot of mixed greens as salads,and I’ll usually have other vegetables like green beans, zucchini, corn, or broccoli with some grilled meat such as chicken, salmon, or hamburger. That is dinner. My lunch is often a grilled cheese sandwich. And for breakfast I will usually eat Cheerios (actually, it’s Trader Joe’s Os!). I absolutely LOVE cheese pizza but don’t make a regular diet of it. I drink mostly regular water or seltzer water or mineral water, and ALWAYS a lot of coffee with half and half. We eat vegetables very plain (including salad) — very rarely do we use dressings or sauces on them. I am hopeful that it will not be too difficult to make these foods completely kosher?

    #896913

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Chicken you might be able to find the brand Empire, in the NY area most regular supermarkets carry it so maybe they will carry it in your area especially since the plant is in PA.

    Cheese also must be kosher, the biggest brand of kosher cheese is Millers, around here the regular supermarkets carry it, so maybe they will have it by you as well.

    Hamburger will be tougher, its much harder to find kosher BEEF hamburger meat outside of a jewish butcher or supermarket (You might find Empire Chicken or Turkey burgers)

    Salmon really isnt a problem and I wouldnt worry about that

    Water , Seltzer, Coffee and half/half is probably ok as well. Flavored coffee might be a problem, but I wouldnt worry about it for now.

    #896914

    Nechomah
    Participant

    Aurora, as usual, I commend you on taking initiative and looking to learn about and progress to taking on the acts that are most identified with religious Judaism. Keeping kosher is not simple, but obviously the first step is to buy kosher products, as you have obviously realized.

    There are on line sites now for many certifying agencies, such as star K. You can google kosher symbols and come up with an array of them. Once you become familiar with how the symbols appear and finding them on products, you will be able to familiarize yourself with which brands of products are already certified kosher. You probably eat a lot of these things (not just Manishewitz products) without even realizing it.

    Like others have said, you will hopefully be able to get chicken in a store not far from where you are located in PA. A more extensive list of meat products might require a trip to Philadelphia. You could think of it as making a kosher trip and go in on a free day (or half day-depending on travel time) and, once you have determined where a kosher store is located, you can go in and stock up on whatever meat products you would want to eat for the foreseeable time until you could return. Store it in the freezer and you’ll be all set.

    As far as dairy, now that’s a whole other kettle of fish. As you have seen from the DD thread – there are 2 types of milk – cholov (milk) Yisroel, which is milk that has been supervised by a Jew from the time of milking (he does not have to actually milk the cow, just watch the farmer milk it) until it is processed. We are fortunate that in our times we have a large variety of dairy products available that are cholov Yisroel.

    As zahavasdad said, from where you are coming, there is no requirement for you to restrict yourself to cholov Yisroel products. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, of blessed memory, was a great authority in Jewish law in the last 50 or so years in America. After examining the issue, he declared that because farmers would be afraid to mix anything into their cow milk products (pig or camel or horse milk for example) because the USDA would give them a fine, so we can rely on the fact that these products only contain cow’s milk and we can drink almost any milk product that is sold in regular grocery stores (I’m not sure about thinks like raw milk or products that have added vitamins or minerals). Other dairy products, such as cheese, do have other ingredients, like rennet, that require kosher supervision, so be sure to check for the certifying symbols on your products.

    The only suggestion I have in addition to the above would be to avoid eating meat and milk together. This may sound simpler than it actually is since many products do have some dairy products in them that you would not suspect. That includes even things like cookies (Oreos have an OU-D certificate).

    Once you feel comfortable with this, you will decide what new aspects of kashrus you want to look into.

    As always, Hatzlacha!

    #896915

    daniela
    Member

    Dear Aurora

    I try to outline a few basic points.

    Meals should be either meat, or dairy. That means no meat is allowed anywhere close to dairy, not in cooking, not in serving, and viceversa. Meat also includes poultry. Meat (and poultry) needs to be kosher certified because it must be slaughtered and prepared in a specific way and by an observant jew.

    For dairy, the cheese has to be kosher certified, but with milk or butter, you can rely upon the regular ones.

    As I mentioned, you can eat fish in a meal with meat, but there are restrictions. You can’t cook them together and you can’t eat them together. If you wish to do that, you have to cook separately, then you eat the meat dish, then you eat something else (vegetables, eggs, bread) and then you eat the fish. You can also do the reverse order. There is no restriction with fish and dairy.

    You don’t have to buy certified fish, but you need to be able to recognize kosher fish, because not every fish is. Or you can make a list of fish you ordinarily buy and have someone read it.

    Eggs can be eaten with milk or with meat. Same with vegetables. When you buy them canned, the easiest thing is to search for kosher certified, which in fact are no more expensive than competitors. If you buy them raw and clean them, you have to check for insects and parasites. There are guidelines that you can find on the websites of reputable kosher certification agencies. You can also find on the internet plenty of discussions about the kosher status of coffee-based beverages. To tell you the truth, I only drink black coffee.

    There is one more item which would require kosher certification, that is wine, grape juice, wine vinegar. The beers and liquors, as long as they are made from kosher ingredients (e.g. there is some tequila which includes a nonkosher, and disgusting, ingredient) do not require certification. Soft drinks, you can usually find them certified. Mineral water and sparkling mineral water does not require certification, but there are brands who have certification anyway.

    There are restrictive rules on Pesach but that’s many months away 🙂

    The other thing you should know, is that your kitchen cookware, dishes, etc. will eventually need to be rearranged, because it can absorbe nonkosher taste or it can create a forbidden mixture of milk and meat. Perhaps you should ask someone to do that in person, because it is difficult to explain over the internet.

    Also, of course, nonkosher food (e.g. for the cats) has to be prepared separately and care should be taken when you use and store the food, the pots, etc.

    I wish you much success!

    #896916

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you so much zahavasdad, Nechomah, and daniela for all your explanations and guidance regarding finding and eating kosher foods. Your encouragement is very meaningful tome, especially when I am daunted by the prospect of ever getting it all right!

    #896917

    aurora77
    Participant

    That should have been “to me,” not “tome”!

    #896918

    DovidM
    Member

    Whole Foods is generally more expensive, but I have found a few items that are consistently cheaper than at other supermarkets.

    With regard to Cholov Yisroel, I have heard it argued that the heter that Rav Moshe gave Cholov Stam was conditional. For example, if Cholov Yisroel was not easily obtainable, and a doctor had recommended that you drink milk, then Cholov Stam was permissible. If this is the case, those who drink Cholov Stam when Cholov Yisroel is available are not in line with what Rav Moshe intended.

    #896919

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello DovidM, that is good to know. Which are some of those kosher foods at Whole Foods that are cheaper there than elsewhere? Thank you!

    #896920

    DovidM
    Member

    Old Fashioned Quaker Oats is cheaper at the local Whole Foods than at any other chain I have found. I am referring to the regular price rather than a “once in a blue moon” sale price. I also have found some spices cheaper there than at, say, Stop & Shop.

    #896921

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Hello, aurora77,

    Kudos to you for your commitment to keeping kosher. My advice to you is simple. Don’t believe everything you read on an anonymous forum.

    Although most of what I’ve read in this thread is true, there are some inaccuracies and oversimplifications. You might want to contact the OU directly, so that at least you know from whom you’re getting your information.

    Good luck.

    #896922

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you Daas Yochid for your well wishes and suggestions!

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