Is Artificial Pork Kosher?

Scientists in the Netherlands have been working for years to turn stem cells into pork!

Dutch scientists have been growing pork in the laboratory since 2006, and while they admit they haven’t gotten the texture quite right or even tasted the engineered meat, they say the technology promises to have widespread implications for our food supply.

Great invention, huh? It may seem a bit odd at first, but if meat protein (not tofu, meat) could be grown instead of raised, millions of acres of land could be cleared up, a major source of pollution (animal waste) would be removed, millions of gallons of fuel (truck shipment) would disappear, lessening our dependence on foreign oil which his a major source of international strife. Seems like a good thing, right?

But, is it kosher?

And the swine, because he parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, but cheweth not the cud, he is unclean unto you. Of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcasses ye shall not touch; they are unclean unto you.
-Leviticus 11:7-8

Pork that is created in a laboratory not only never had cloven hooves, but never ate food, cud chewing or not.

Mary Douglas, in her book Purity and Danger, theorized that the Jewish kosher laws, that were derived from the Levitical Code, were all about categorization; that they were an early attempt at at natural philosophy by the writers of the Priestly Code. That’s why pigs, shell fish,and homosexuality were all called abominations (loosely translated, unclean in a ritualistic sense)*.

These may ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, that may ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of all the living creatures that are in the waters, they are an abomination unto you,
-Levitcus 11:9-10

The theory goes like this, fish swim in water and have scales. Yet, there are these creature that swim in the water but do not have scales. What are they? It’s not a fish because it doesn’t fit all the criteria of a fish, therefore it’s not part of God’s creation; it is therefore verboten, off limits.

Cattle, which we can eat, have cloven hooves and chew the cud. Pigs have cloven hooves, but do not chew the cud. Don’t fit. Abomination.

Homosexuality: not the norm, must be an abomination.

Seems to fit. But, what will the rabbis say?

It is this categorizing of nature in Leviticus that makes me accept the late dating of the Priestly Code, citing that it was written after the Babylonian Exile. During the Exile, the Jewish people came into contact with Zoroastrianism which had a dualistic view point of the natural world: the nice things in it were created by the all good god Ahura Mazda, the nasty creep crawly things were created by his evil counter part, Ahriman. In Zoroastrianism, this duality makes perfect sense since Ahriman, being an equal but opposite god to Ahura Mazda, can create. In Judaism, however, it does not fit. All things on earth would be a creation of Yahweh, so there should be no evil creations. This ill fitting scheme seems to imply that the theory behind Kosher laws is an import into the religion.

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2 Comments on “Is Artificial Pork Kosher?”


  1. You may have something there.

    My folks used to tell me that they had a prohibitio9n on pork because of trichinosis (sp?) as though the ancients could ever ake the connection between under cooked pork and illness. They also said that since shell fish becomes toxic quickly if not kept cool, they knew the potential of fatality in a hot climate was elevated.

    Frankly, it sounded like bull shit. Monkey meat has no trichanosis and wouldn’t go bad any faster than beef or sheep.

    I wonder how Rabbi’s will interpret the Torah when we start eating Soylent Green.


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