EarthKosher is a relatively young company whose goal is to allow smaller, health-conscious businesses to sign on to affordable, trustworthy kosher certification. In just under 15 years in operation, the kashrut agency has signed on more than 400 companies in more than 20 countries, according to its founder and CEO, Rabbi Zecharyah Goldman.
Now, the agency is looking forward to spreading its wings in Canada, Goldman says from his new part-time base in Winnipeg. Last May, the Boulder, Colorado-based Orthodox rabbi married Winnipegger Ardith Henoch, who has become EarthKosher’s marketing and outreach representative in Canada. (Goldman now divides his time between Boulder and Winnipeg.)
Rabbi Goldman notes that while there’s a company in Vancouver that also provides affordable kosher certification, there is always room for competition. “We believe that there is opportunity in Canada,” he says.
Rabbi Goldman’s “aha moment” came in early 2000 while shopping online for environmentally friendly, healthy fish. In response to his question why the company’s canned salmon was kosher-certified but not its flash-frozen salmon, the company representative referred to the high cost of kashrut certification.
It occurred to Rabbi Goldman that there were undoubtedly a lot of smaller health food companies that weren’t kosher-certified because they couldn’t afford the fees. He subsequently made an arrangement with Rabbi Zushe Blech, a world-recognized kashrut expert from Monsey, N.Y., Rabbi Blech is Rabbi Goldman’s business partner and EarthKosher’s senior kashrut administrator.
EarthKosher focuses on small companies that produce organic or natural food. EarthKosher charges clients by the actual cost of the kashrut service provided rather than a percentage of sales.
Rabbi Goldman notes that EarthKosher’s ability to keep its pricing down is due to its more streamlined operation. “Traditional Orthodox kashrut agencies, such as OU and Star-K, have tremendous overhead costs,” he says. “We don’t.”
And, while there is huge demand in India and China for kashrut certification, EarthKosher prefers to stick with English-speaking countries.
Rabbi Goldman notes that, as with other large kosher-certifying organizations, EarthKosher works through local rabbis to provide kosher supervision.
Also, EarthKosher does not certify meat. “It’s not a matter of principle,” Rabbi Goldman says of the decision. “There is just a lot more involved in certifying kosher meat and more things can go wrong. We don’t want to deal with the potential liabilities.”
Rabbi Goldman points out that EarthKosher’s uniqueness is in its combination of affordable kosher certification with recognized standards, as well as its focus on healthy eating, the environment, fair trade and other similar concerns.
“We are looking to expand in Canada,” Rabbi Goldman says. “I think that the dynamics of kosher certification are much the same in Canada as they are in the United States. It makes more sense for smaller environmentally friendly food processors to work with EarthKosher. We will go the extra mile to make kashrut work for the companies that we certify.”