Jews have been wrestling with how to eat meat in an ethical and holy way since the beginning of our history. From our shepherding forefathers to animal sacrifice in the Holy Temples, to the dominance of “glatt kosher,” and worker abuse at Agriprocessors, the issues abound.
What should “Kosher Meat” mean in the 21st century? Where is the intersection between kashrut laws, Jewish business ethics, and our modern, Jewish, environmental values? These pages are meant to be a starting point for the discussion about how Jews today are observing kashrut, sometimes challenging the mainstream Kosher meat industry as they bring together their ancient traditions and modern environmental sensibilities.
This homepage for the conversation about kosher meat is a collection of many of the resources that exist related to the contemporary issues. For some Jews, eating meat that has been slaughtered according halakhic laws of kashrut is a necessary, but not always sufficient criteria for eating. There are other concerns halakhic and otherwise that people consider when making the choice to eat meat. Keep in mind that there is room to incorporate non-meat options.
Resources for finding ethical kosher meat
There is a growing demand for meat that is local, kosher, humanely raised and ethically slaughtered. Here are resources for you to make your search and your decision to eat meat in accordance with all of these values a little bit easier. There are always new findings and developments in this area, and we appreciate your help keeping our list up to date! If you know of other projects or businesses we’ve missed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Grow & Behold Foods brings you delicious pastured meats raised on small family farms. Our meats are produced in limited quantities to ensure that we adhere to the strictest standards of kashrut, animal welfare, worker treatment, and sustainable agriculture. We do it right, so you can enjoy every bite. Hechsher: OU (glatt kosher) Products: Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Veal, and Lamb. Distribution: Shipping nationwide, home delivery in NY and Philadelphia Contact:email@example.com or 888-790-5781
- KOL Foods is committed to health, transparency, animal welfare, sustainability and offering the most delicious meat on the planet. Their animals roam free for their entire lives and are never confined in feedlots or given hormones or antibiotics. KOL Foods products are available with convenient shipment to your home. Member of the American Grass-fed Association. Hecksher: KOL Foods sells glatt kosher meat and kosher poultry approved by the OU, the Star-K, or the CHK. The certification and glatt status is indicated on the butcher’s label on each package. Products: Pre-cooked meals, deli, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck and Alaskan sockeye wild salmon Distribution: Nation-wide. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-366-3565
- Kosherorganics.com: The mission of KosherOrganics.com is to contribute to this movement, not just in our kosher certification and advocacy of green products and organic and natural food for kosher consumers, but to be a source of information, education and support for the social, agricultural and business communities on a local and global scale. At Kosher Organics we support environmentally responsible initiatives to protect the earth and its inhabitants, and we donate funds to worthwhile organizations that benefit you, the place you live, and the environmental future for tomorrow. Hekhsher: Green-k (orthodox certification)
- Robariah Farms is a small-scale poultry enterprise specializing in pasture-raised, organically fed, kosher chicken. Located in Western Massachusetts, we use sustainable, rotational grazing practices to provide our chickens with the highest nutritional benefits of fresh daily pasture. We use only certified organic, non-GMO grain and never administer antibiotics or hormones. Our kosher practices ensure that chickens are processed, cleaned, inspected and prepared in a framework of high ethical principles and practices. Robariah Farms is run by Robert Friedman and Shemariah Blum-Evitts, who met during the Adamah program in 2004. Since 2012, we have sold more than 1,600 kosher chickens and countless duck eggs to families, restaurants, coops, and conference centers in our surrounding Western Massachusetts, Boston, and Connecticut communities.
- Wise Organic Pastures believes that animals should be treated with dignity and allowed to roam free. Meat is no place for antibiotics or hormones or pesticides. Families, not big business, make the best farmers and that the quality and purity of the foods we eat is not negotiable. Heksher: Crown Heights Kosher and OU. Products: Chicken, Turkey, and Beef. Distribution: Online shipping is available. Contact:email@example.com or 718-596-0400
Past posts from The Jew & The Carrot
We have gathered some personal stories about the process of slaughtering an animal with intention and in accordance with Jewish law.
- Andrew Kastner – Thoughts on becoming a shochet
- Roger Studley – Talking Turkey (Interview)
- Anna Hanau – Thoughts on the Turkey Shechting
- Marion Menzin – Sustainable Kosher Turkeys for Thanksgiving
- Leah Koenig- Grow and Behold: A New Line of Kosher Chicken Launches A Conversation Around Food Ethics
- Devra Ferst- Washington State Upholds Kosher Slaughter Law
- Devra Ferst- Dutch Bill Puts Kosher Meat in Jeopardy
- Simon Feil- Schecting at the Food Conference: A Messy Business, and Schecting at the Food Conference: A Messy Business, Part Deux
- Simon Feil-Diary of a Pair of Boots
Meat at the Hazon Food Conference
- The goats – 2007
- The turkeys – 2008
- We also highly recommend Sue Fishkoff’s new book, Kosher Nation, which includes in the last chapter a description of the shechita at the first Hazon food conference, and the leaders in the field of ethical, sustainable kosher meat who were involved.
An immigration raid on the Agriprocessors Kosher slaughterhouses, operated by the Rubashkin family in Postville, Iowa spurred a boycott of Kosher meat and a broader conversation in the Jewish community about worker rights, industrial meat production and the definition of kosher (fit-to-eat) meat.
- Uri L’Tzedek is an Orthodox social justice organization guided by Torah values and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression. They took a lead role in the Agriprocessors boycott. For more information on their defense of workers rights in the slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa see this link.
- Magen Tzedek is the new ethical certification seal that will be introduced to the kosher food industry in the coming months by Hekhsher Tzedek a project of the Conservative movement to bringing Jewish values of fairness, compassion and justice in food production front and center to any consumer of kosher products. The beginnings of the Hekhsher Tzedek originated with Allen’s first trip to the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, IA.
- News and Views on Agriprocessors from the JCarrot archive.
Texts on meat from Food for Thought
Kosher Meat in the News
- Kosher Wars – New York Times, October 9, 2008
- Making kosher food more sustainable, December 27, 2008
- Local Meat is Becoming Easier to Find- New York Times, June 8, 2010
- For Some, ‘Kosher” Equals Pure- New York Times, January 12, 2010
Questions? Want to continue the conversation? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.