Canada's cultural and religious diversity has, without question, shaped the selection of fresh and prepared foods available today at both retail and foodservice. Religious dietary food laws are present in most major religions. These laws date back millennia and not only dictate what foods may be consumed, but also how such foods may be prepared and even cultivated. The reasons why religious food laws are so diverse are exceptionally fascinating and are the subject of much scholarly debate. Religious food law and modern food law do, however, have points where their relationship intersects.
One of the most intricate sets of religious dietary laws is the kashruth. This defines what foods are kosher, a term that is literally translated as what is fit or proper for consumption. In 1911, Crisco was among the earliest foods in North America to be widely marketed as kosher. In the early 1920s rabbinical authorities in the U.S. and Canada began efforts to bring more oversight to kosher labelling and advertising. Nevertheless this remained largely unregulated and was the cause of much frustration by Canadian consumers.