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Kosher, Natural... Delicious?

Rafael Medoff

As the natural foods market expands, manufacturers are capitalizing on kosher consumers who see what growing numbers have already accepted: Natural food is better for you and tastes good too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ever tasted a kosher vegan crab cake? Or sprinkled kosher New Zealand sea salt on your Shabbos challah? Or sampled strawberry purple raw carrot juice? These and other exotic-sounding foods may not be part of your bubbe’s repertoire, but some manufacturers of natural foods see signs of a growing interest in health foods among kosher consumers — and are investing accordingly. At the four-day Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California this spring, a surprising number of the more than 3,000 exhibitors showcased kosher products.Brad’s Raw Crunchy Kale, a snack resembling a cross between potato chips and popcorn, bore an OU (Orthodox Union) stamp. A line of organic salad dressings made by RawFoodz sported the COR (Kashruth Council of Canada) symbol.Caroline’s Vegetarian Five-Bean Chili, produced by Atlantic Natural Foods, is supervised by OK Labs. Tens of thousands of health food industry professionals filled the enormous Anaheim Convention Center, many of them buyers looking for the next product to bring back home to their customers. Exhibitors ranged from small mom-and-pop booths showcasing a particular new granola bar or all-natural seasoning, to a line of intensely focused Asian chefs preparing organic stir-fry, whole wheat egg rolls, and other Oriental treats in a row of sizzling woks. Kosher attendees missed out on such sampling opportunities, of course, but there were plenty of uncooked and sealed products to choose from. Rabbi Reuven Flamer of Monsey, founder of Natural Food Certifiers, has been attending natural foods gatherings for the past 15 years, but this year’s Anaheim expo was the first one at which he took an exhibitor’s booth — a reflection, he says, of the growing interest among natural foods manufacturers in kosher supervision.

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