A Brief Survey of the LGBTQ Jewish Community
Any plant - vegetable, fruit or grain is kosher (providing that it is not dangerous!) The only thing to worry about is that your food is thoroughly cleaned and that it is not concealing insects which are definitely not kosher!
Fish which have fins and scales are kosher; any other water life is not.
Fresh, smoked and frozen kosher fish may in general be eaten as long as they are still identifiable or are named on the package. Fishmongers will use the same knives for kosher and non kosher fish so it is advisable to buy the fish whole and clean it yourself. Tinned Fish are sometimes packed in "edible oil", which could be of non kosher animal origin, so look for tins specifying vegetable or Soya oil, or brine.
Kosher animals are the ones which chew the cud and have cloven hooves. By the time you actually buy your pound of mincemeat, it's not in a position to do much chewing and certainly shouldn't have hooves. The way actually to recognise kosher meat is to see whether the shop that is selling it has a current license.
The choice offered by your butcher will generally be between beef, lamb and chicken, though other meat and poultry may be available. Most of the preparation, "Koshering", of the meat e.g. removal of forbidden fat and the salting process to drain the blood, will usually have been done by the time you buy it. Many pre-packed and frozen kosher meat products are available - they will have a label on the pack indicating that they have been produced under Rabbinical supervision - and some non Jewish shops stock them.
If you don't know where to get kosher meat and there is no obvious Jewish shopping area near you, ask the nearest Jewish community, or call your local Jewish Student Union, your Chaplain/Rabbi or the local Kashrut Division.
Eggs & Fowl
Only eggs which come from a kosher bird are kosher and are considered pareve. The kosher birds are identified from biblical passages, with the help of the oral tradition; practically hens and duck's eggs may be eaten
If however an egg contains a blood spot it shouldn't be used. It's advisable to examine each egg in a glass on it's own. Only red spots are a cause for concern.; brown spots may be ignored.
Since it is not possible to distinguish kosher milk (i.e. milk from a kosher animal) from non kosher milk, the rabbis insisted that one should only drink milk if one could be sure that it had come from a kosher animal. In both the USA and the UK, for example, the source of mile offered for sale is guaranteed by civil law, so it can be assured that what is offered for sale as cow's (or goat's) milk is indeed from a cow, or goat, and therefore kosher. Despite this many people still prefer only to drink milk whose production has been rabinically supervised. People referring to 'kosher' or Chalav Yisroel milk usually mean supervised milk and do not imply that non-supervised milk is not kosher.
Any pure butter is kosher; blended butter may mean a blend of butter with non kosher margarine.
Hard cheese is made using an enzyme - rennet - which is responsible for the form of the cheese. Until recently, rennet was obtained only from the stomach of calves or pigs, though now it is made synthetically. The problem encountered in cheese production is not however one of meat and milk, but the risk of benefiting from an improperly slaughtered animal. As a safe guard, hard cheeses, even when the rennet is not of animal origin, are regarded as non kosher unless produced under rabbinical supervision. Opinions differ as to whether this safeguard applies to soft cheeses made without rennet; it is anyway worth noting that rennet is often now used to accelerate the production of cottage cheese. Some rabbinical authorities permit the non supervised cottage cheeses, provided of course that the ingredients are kosher. A wide range of supervised hard and soft cheeses are available.
Plain and fruit yoghurts are in general kosher; some may however contain gelatine, or unsupervised emulsifiers or stabilisers, which render them non kosher.
The rabbis also discouraged the consumption of bread not manufactured by Jews, though in a place where Jewish manufactured bread is not available, or is of inferior quality, commercially produced non Jewish bread can be used, subject tot he following conditions.
Bread usually contains fat, which may be of animal (or unknown) origin. There is also the possibility of an emulsion or glaze being applied to the crust, or of non kosher fat being used to grease the baking tins; such fat may not appear on the list of ingredients. Further, the bread may be baked in the same ovens as non kosher bread or cakes; this too would render it non kosher.
Today, in a number of countries including, but not limited to, the USA, the UK, South Africa and France there are multiple brands of generally available breads from regular companies that are now registered as kosher. You may also find that health food shops may stock vegetarian bread.
Rabbinic decree also forbids the consumption of non kosher wine, grape juice or wine vinegar. These should be used only if produced and bottled under rabbinical supervision and labelled as such.
Although it is clearly impossible to deal with all the problems presented by modern eating and buying habits, we offer some thoughts on a few particular common ones.