Is it worth the effort to stay kosher?
Who determines the kosher status of “new” foods?
The answers here address the gelatin controversy. The question, however, was: who determines the kosher status of "new" foods?
While the vast majority of shomrei cashrus (those who obey the laws to stay kosher) consume turkey meat today, the cashrus status of this New World bird has been a major debate.
The North American bison is less controversial. Everyone agrees that this animal (sometimes called a buffalo) has the simanim of a kosher mammal. The question is, is it a behemah or a chayah? Do we have to do ksiui hadam? Is the back fat considered cheilev (and therefore it is forbidden to eat)?
I remember hearing that in practice kosher bison producers are machmir both ways - they make kisui hadam like it's a chayah (but without the bracha) but they don't eat the back fat (which would be classified as cheilev) . if it were a behemah).
The most confusing problems arise from New World starchy vegetables. For Ashkenazim, the question arises as to which of these vegetables on Pesach should be considered kitnyios and which should not.
Mais became Kitnyios due to a language defect. "Corn" means any kind of grain in Old English (and in other European languages). European explorers found these strange yellow cobs growing and called the stuff "Indian corn" (meaning Indian grain). When people asked their Ashkenazi rabbis if they could eat "Indian corn" on Pesach, the answer was, "Of course not! We don't eat corn on Pesach!"
So the New World corn was banned, but the New World potato survived the same challenge.
A recent Kitynios controversy surrounds quinoa.
To answer the question, why do some newly discovered foods eventually become commonplace (turkey) and others not?
Ultimately, it comes down to community standards. Different qualified poskim make different decisions about new foods. Then ultimately the marketplace rules.
That is why it is much less "kosher for those who eat gelatin" in Israel today than it was a few decades ago. It's not worth the kosher candy store's hassle to buy two different types of gum worms. (one with Treif-based gelatin, one with kosher fish or plant-based gelatin).
In some Jewish communities, quinoa salad is served on Pesach without a second thought. In other communities, if you were serving quinoa, you couldn't have company eat in your home.
In summary, a combination of the multitude of halachic decisions and the free market in Jewish communities determines which new foods are acceptable and which are not.
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