Rooted in history and religion, each law is specific about what types of food you can and can't eat. The laws are also strict about the way you prepare, process, and inspect food if you're going to call it kosher.
Keeping kosher is a commitment. It governs what you eat and the way you prepare your meals and use your kitchen and dishes every day. But anyone can eat kosher food. You probably have kosher items in your pantry right now.
Scholars believe that Jewish dietary laws may be the first food laws on record. The general principles of keeping kosher are in the Torah. It has commandments (called mitzvahs) to follow as ways to obey God. Keeping kosher is one of them.
Kosher food is essentially food that does not have any non-kosher ingredients in accordance with Jewish law. What makes something kosher is that meat and milk products are not mixed together, animal products from non-kosher animals (like pork, shellfish, and others) are not included, and any meat from kosher animals is slaughtered in the correct procedure.
There are a number of other requirements that need to be met, both in the process of food preparation and who performs the process. Kosher food is not just for the religious - the vast majority of customers of kosher products buy it for other reasons - whether because they want gluten-free, halal, or just because kosher food is seen as high quality.