I keep thinking that the need (or the debate over the need) both for government laws and industry rules or guidelines or standards, in the food industry, has some parallel to the more primitive rules of Kashrut.
To some extent, could it be said that one of the functions of the Torah over the last 2000-3000 years has been to attempt to help us remain physically healthy via attempted assessment of what would be good food-related rules to follow, and attachment of superstition-related inducements to those rules? I think that's obvious.
Now that modern scientists have had a chance to try to assemble updated ideas for health, there are times when it would seem to beg a question as to parallels with keeping Kosher. In some cases, this is just about personal habits (e.g.: is it advisable for a person to eat meat or not, and if so, how much and what kind(s)?). In some cases, this is a matter of the law (e.g.: some of us consider the question of whether many GMOs may prove harmful to human health to be unsettled at best, or (at worst) settled in favor of harming human health.
I did not grow up in a kosher or religiously observant environment, but there were some modest amounts of these principles, so as I follow the GMO debates, and as I just try to formulate and practice good eating and exercise and other health habits and practices, it goes through my mind sometimes that however primitive the Torah was and is, it seems a forensically interesting attempt to address food issues.
I wonder, if Judaism survives as a sort of New Atheistic Judaism, if it will include some sort of New Kosher type of concept.
I may copy and paste this question over to the forums, I'm not sure if the groups or the forums are where there is more discussion.
Thanks for the response. Since trying to start this thread more than a year ago, my thinking has more or less stayed about the same. IMO, there is a real and ongoing need for some form of guidance on what is healthy and what is not healthy in food. It is up for debate (I think) whether theoreticaly this can just come from private sector folks or whether there is additional need for governmental intervention.
One particular private sector person I've been following is the foodbabe, and she's doing a superb job, in my view, of carrot-and-stick assessment of the space. It takes some shaming (such as the recent outing of Starbucks unhealthy pumpkin drink ingredients) and some positive focus on what is healthy and clean (I've come around to drinking much healthier organic tea for example).
Speaking of tea... Greenpeace just found that a lot of tea grown in China and India has hazardous levels and types of pesticides, with DDT and other banned pesticides in some teas. ("Poisons in our tea") As for organics, Ruth wrote there that "my friend... from China... confirmed that organic certification of Chinese tea shouldn't be trusted."
Besides health and hygiene, the "benefit" of the kosher laws might well be to discourage observant Jews from socializing with non-Jews, leading to the "horrors" of intermarriage and assimilation. That would be an adaptive trait for a religion, helping it "be fruitful and multiply", by ensuring that (1) most adherents -- hosts of the mindware -- don't find spouses whose competing religious or irreligious mindware might weaken the religion's hold, and (2) most adherents raise their children to be receptive hosts in turn.
Maybe also, the effort and costs involved in following the rules might make the system of traditional Judaism seem more valuable and more "right", as adherents justify their actions to themselves.
I hope one day religion no longer holds so much power over people's lives ... live your life the way you want....
Amen! (In the original sense of "what he said!" "I believe it!" Doesn't have to have anything to do with prayer.)
Then again, being Jewish is more being part of a large extended family than about religion. (And it's not a single, uniform religion by any means!)
I actually know a third-generation atheist, with no previous connection to Judaism, who became a Humanistic Jew by choice -- she was inspired by our strong traditions of investigating and questioning everything, and of working to make the world a better place. No god needed; it's up to us.