Organic kosher foods are those that meet both government guidelines for being labeled "organic" and Jewish dietary laws, known as the laws of kashrut. For foods to be labeled as organic, they must be grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, free from antibiotics and hormones and otherwise grown naturally. Kosher foods are those designated by Jewish law as suitable for human consumption and prepared in a kosher manner. Organic kosher foods combine both and are widely available for purchase in most major grocery stores and specialty stores, identifiable by label markings. Homegrown and home-prepared organic kosher foods are an economical alternative to pre-packaged and commercially produced foods.
Pre-packaged and processed foods, such as frozen ready-made meals and boxed dinners, will have an organic label and a kosher symbol if they are both organic and kosher. Foods labeled as “natural” or “kosher” do not necessarily mean they truly are organic or kosher. In the U.S., the specific designation “organic” appears on the label if the product meets minimum government standards for such labeling. The two most common and credible kosher designations are those with a “U” or a “K” inside a circle, although KSA, KIR, Star-K and others are possible, depending on the location. The symbol generally appears on labels on the front of the package or at the end of the ingredients list, and some are more credible than others.
Nearly any type of pre-packaged food is available as both kosher and organic, including convenience foods such as canned soup, macaroni and cheese, rice dishes, soup mixes, sauces and other canned and boxed foods, and frozen dinners. Organic canned and frozen vegetables also will carry the kosher certification symbol if appropriate. Raw whole fruits and vegetables are kosher and do not carry the kosher certification, although they must carry the “organic” designation if they are to be sold as such. From a kosher standpoint, some packaged foods that do not list obvious dairy ingredients in the ingredients list may be designated as dairy, either because of the processing equipment or because some additive or preservative is derived from a dairy ingredient. Organic kosher dairy products also will carry both certifications and, depending on the kashrut agency, will include a “D” or “dairy” next to the certification symbol; those foods suitable for Passover will include an added “P” next to the symbol, and meat products sometimes carry an additional “M.”
Organic kosher meat products often have the designation “organic glatt kosher,” which applies only to meat and signifies that the animal's lungs were smooth and free from defects; it does not apply to fish or poultry. Other types of organic kosher foods include those ingredients that carry both designations and are used for cooking, such as grains, legumes, yeast and other baking agents, herbs and spices, sugar, flour and other items. These are often given the kosher designation "pareve" and can be used to make either meat or dairy dishes. Purchasing individual organic ingredients and making kosher dishes from scratch using those organic ingredients is often much more cost-effective than purchasing pre-packaged foods with both designations. Organic fruits and vegetables also can be grown at home, although organic meat still must be taken to a kosher butcher for slaughter.