What is LoKo?

May 12, 2011

LoKo is a non-profit organization that educates Jews about the origins and history of kashrut and the evolving kosher meat industry in the United States. We believe that kashrut is an important Jewish spiritual practice of humane and sustainable meat consumption that is especially relevant today in the era of industrial food production.
LoKo has two missions. First, we run workshops for synagogue, school, and other groups about the spirituality of kashrut and the issues facing the modern kosher meat industry. Second, we serve as a liason between farmers, kosher meat producers, and consumers.

OUR WORKSHOPS address the following questions:
What is the connection between keeping kosher and your most essential Jewish values?
Are you concerned about the health and sustainability of the meat you eat?
Do you wonder whether kosher meat is the most ethical choice?
What fundamental moral principles do we express every day by keeping kosher?
How is kashrut a spiritual practice that imbues our lives with holiness?
How does the conscious practice of kashrut change and deepen our relationships with G-d, animals, and the earth?
How do the restrictions that kashrut puts on sharing food with others in fact deepen our commitment to world citizenship?
Is kosher meat as humanely and sustainably produced as the local farm-raised meat now widely available?
How does keeping kosher in the modern world bring unique challenges and blessings?

Our learning has three components, which are tailored to the needs of each particular workshop group:
Text study. Participants look at a series of texts from the Tanakh, the rabbis, and other Jewish thinkers. Through in-depth study of selected fundamental texts, participants together draw conclusions about Jewish laws and values.
Open discussion. Eating is a highly personal act, and we create a safe space for people to discuss their goals and concerns. Sharing moral and spiritual struggles challenges participants to extend and deepen their practice of kashrut.
Participation in a demonstration shechita and kashering process. Participants are able to make a personal connection to the shochet and appreciate the role of shochtim in Jewish food production. Experiencing shechita and helping with the kashering process bring alive the powerful way that kashrut laws change our understanding of the world.
This course is ideally structured as a series of classes with the option of culminating in a hands-on shechita workshop, but it can also be taught as one workshop incorporating shechita and text study, or as text study and discussion alone.

AS A LIASON between farmers raising animals, businesses slaughtering and processing kosher meat, and consumers looking to understand where kosher meat comes from, we increase transparency, encourage consumers to follow and shape the course of the new Jewish Food Movement, and deepen understanding of how the kosher meat industry works. Visit our “Kosher Meat Industry” section to learn about kosher meat producers across the U.S., the differences between them, and the theological and logistical issues that affect how the industry treats animals and the environment and produces meat. There have been many exciting recent developments in the industry as new producers aim to reinvigorate traditional kashrut and integrate kashrut into the local food movement.

WHAT IS LOKO AND WHAT DO WE DO?
LoKo runs educational programs on the importance of kashrut as an ancient system of humane and sustainable meat production, and its relevance for Jews today as we make decisions about how we eat. We run workshops for synagogue, school, and other groups. These workshops include observing shechita, participating in the kashering process, and a learning session about the ways in which Jewish law and tradition intersect with our growing understanding of the impact our food choices have on our world. If you have ever worried that keeping kosher conflicts with making ethical food choices, then this workshop is for you and your community. Come and learn how Jewish law has emphasized local, humanely raised, sustainable food for thousands of years, and meet the dynamic leaders who are working hard to ensure that kashrut stays true to its roots. If you are interested in getting a group together to participate, or you would like to discuss the workshops in more details, please contact info@lokomeat.com.
Our next workshop is on October 24th at 1 PM at Temple Emunah in Lexington. Please contact Temple Emunah to sign up.

It’s been a busy summer for LoKo and friends. LoKo is going in a new direction for the fall. Here’s what’s been happening:

First, the report on summer production. LoKo participants, along with Farmer Dave and Shochet Naf, put in some hard work on our shechita dates of June 27 and August 8. Dave needed to give the birds some extra coddling this year to coax them outside to forage, but with a nice henhouse and some of his best grass they led a happy and healthy life. Naf has been busy with his own venture to bring ethically raised and slaughtered kosher chicken to the Northeast, but he continues to travel to us and get his hands (very) dirty so that we here in Boston can eat chicken that we feel good about. We had some kids as young as 9 working with us this year and boy, did they do a good job. I was honored to work next to a little girl who determinedly plucked an entire chicken by herself; she was so proud and she definitely earned that chicken dinner!

Now, on to the changes afoot at LoKo. There are a lot of people in our community who aren’t comfortable with the cruelty and environmental degradation involved in industrial meat production, and who have realized that such production betrays the spirit of kashrut. The demand for LoKo meat has been overwhelming over the past few months, and as a small, local co-op, we’ve been unable to meet it. There have been a lot of disappointed folks who we’ve had to turn away, and our farmer is exhausted. If a meaningful segment of Boston’s Jewish community wants to make the switch to sustainably raised meat, then there will have to be a lot more farmers raising animals for us. This increased scale is not something that we at LoKo can coordinate. Luckily, our shochet is an experienced farmer himself, and he is committed to making sustainably raised, pastured kosher chicken available to all who need it. He recently started working with Amish farmers to make this meat available in Boston, and you can find out all about it at growandbehold.com.

What does this mean for LoKo? We are shifting our focus to education about the importance of kashrut as an age-old system of humane and sustainable meat production, and its relevance for Jews today as we make decisions about how we eat. Starting this fall, we will run workshops for synagogue, school, and other groups. These workshops will include observing shechita, participating in the kashering process, discussion with our shochet, and a rabbi-led learning session about the ways in which Jewish law and tradition intersect with our growing understanding of the impact our food choices have on our world. If you have ever worried that keeping the ancient spiritual tradition of kashrut conflicts with ethical food choices, then this workshop is for you and your community. Come and learn how Jewish law has emphasized local, humanely raised, sustainable food for thousands of years, and meet the dynamic leaders who are working hard to ensure that kashrut stays true to its roots. If you are interested in getting a group together to participate, contact me at info@lokomeat.com.

Thank you for supporting our efforts, and please get in touch to keep the learning and growing going!
Marion

Our June 27 shechita date is pretty much full, and we’re now accepting reservations for our August 8 shechita date. On August 8 we will have both Cornish Rock Cross chickens and a new heritage breed called “Freedom Rangers.” Heritage birds tend to consume more grass and insects, grow more slowly and remain small, and taste “richer.”

To sign up for the August 8 date and reserve chickens, or if you have any questions, send an email to info@lokomeat.com. Remember to read through the rest of the website first to you know how it all works. We can work with groups as well as individuals.

LoKo is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Boston-area Jews with local, kosher, free-range, humanely raised chicken and meat. Our goal is twofold: to provide a more nutritious and humane source of kosher meat than is commercially available in Boston, and to encourage Jewish spiritual growth through education about the meaning of kashrut.

Here’s a recent article that appeared in the Jewish Voice and Herald of Providence. The author provides a thoughtful summary of the growing interest in humanely raised kosher meat.
Kosher meat goes out to pasture

By Stephen A. Sherman
Special to The Voice & Herald

Naftali Hanau is not your average kosher slaughterer. After completing the Adamah Jewish environmental fellowship in Falls Village, Conn., Hanau felt uncomfortable consuming conventional kosher meat. “It became very clear to me that the kind of meat I wanted to eat was meat produced on a relatively small scale… raised in a way that’s healthy for the animal and healthy for the planet,” Hanau said.
After an unsuccessful search for pasture-raised kosher products, Hanau took matters into his own hands. He went to New York City and trained as a poultry shochet, or ritual slaughterer. Between meeting his own needs and teaching ritual slaughter, or shechitah, to the curious, Naftali Hanau has joined a growing number who would like Jews to eat pastured, kosher meat.
Since the first allegations of animal welfare and labor abuses at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in 2004, many of the estimated 1.3 million kosher-observant Jews in the United States have begun to reevaluate the source of their meats and poultry.
Proponents of pastured meat claim that conventional animal husbandry undermines Jewish teachings on environmentalism and can violate the biblical injunction against pain to living creatures, or tza’ar ba’alei chaim.
Conventional production is troubling for Marion Menzin of Newton, Mass. In 2007, she cofounded a nonprofit organization called LoKo (for Local Kosher). The purpose of the group is to give Boston-area Jews an alternative to the perceived cruelty of industrial poultry farming.
LoKo does not merely sell pasture-raised poultry. Customers personally participate in the rituals of kosher law. On periodic processing days, Jews from the Greater Boston area drive to Caledonia Farms in Barre, Mass. There, shochet Naftali Hanau slaughters about 100 chickens raised on pasture at the farm. Participants then pluck, eviscerate, soak, and salt the birds according to tradition. At the end of the day, customers can purchase up to 20 birds apiece to take home.
For many participants, the physical engagement with kashrut makes the act of consuming meat more meaningful. Marion Menzin says this personal connection to meat is an often-overlooked function of kosher law, one that LoKo is hoping to facilitate. “I think it’s rewarding for people to do the physical work… [Then] there is also the knowledge that you’re doing it the right way. You are doing what’s best for the animal and the farmer,” she said.
For some, the question is not how meat should be raised or slaughtered, but whether it should be consumed at all. Dr. Richard Schwartz, president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, asserts that a vegetarian diet is permitted and even encouraged by the Jewish ethical tradition.
Genesis 1:29 defines the original diet of humankind as vegan. According to renowned Torah scholar Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, it was only as a concession to human weakness that God permitted the consumption of animals after the flood.
Schwartz is in respected company. Kook himself was famous for practicing and promoting vegetarianism. Rabbi David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland, was also a vegetarian.
When asked about LoKo-style pastured meat production, Schwartz responded in an email message, “I think veganism is the ideal… [but] if all meat was produced that way, we would have a far better, healthier, environmentally-sustainable world.”
Here in Rhode Island, there is a growing interest in alternatives to conventional kosher meat. Rose Forrest of Daniel Gourmet Kosher Catering in Providence has had some requests for pasture-raised chicken at different functions, but the economic recession has decreased demand. Most clients who request local or organic products are vegetarians anyway.
Rabbi Joel Seltzer of Temple Emanu-El in Providence reports the issue has generated intense discussion in his congregation. “People are longing for their kashrut to catch up to their ethics,” he said in a telephone interview.
The biggest deterrent for many is cost. Kosher meats already command a premium over non-kosher products. Conscientious Jews facing a limited budget may be forced to choose between kosher or pasture-raised.
This conflict has not escaped the notice of shochet Naftali Hanau. “This meat is expensive, but it’s worth it, and maybe we should be eating less of it anyway”.

LoKo will hold its next workday on June 27. Visit is Web site: http://lokomeat.com/ for more information.

Stephen Sherman is a senior in the agro-environmental sciences program at McGill University in Montreal. He is a resident of Barrington.

Spring News

May 7, 2010

We’re moving into an action-packed summer here at LoKo. I just got off the phone with our farmer, Dave, and we’re looking into raising some heritage birds this summer. It will be interesting to see how they compare to the Cornish Rock Cross. Heritage birds tend to consume more grass and insects, grow more slowly and remain small, and taste “richer.” Hopefully we’ll have these birds available for our summer shechita.

In other news, Natan and Marion taped a segment for “Jewish Perspectives,” a show on Channel 7 that covers local Jewish news. We discussed the genesis of LoKo and where we hope to take it in the future. I believe it will air Sunday, June 13, at 6 AM. So set your alarm clocks now!

Our next processing date is June 27. To sign up for our June or summer (we should have our summer date soon) processing dates, or if you have any questions, send an email to info@lokomeat.com. Remember to read through the rest of the website first to you know how it all works. We can work with groups as well as individuals.

LoKo is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Boston-area Jews with local, kosher, free-range, humanely raised chicken and meat. Our goal is twofold: to provide a more nutritious and humane source of kosher meat than is commercially available in Boston, and to encourage Jewish spiritual growth through education about the meaning of kashrut.

Welcome to LoKo

December 11, 2009

LoKo is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Boston-area Jews with local, kosher, free-range, humanely raised chicken and meat. Our goal is twofold: to provide a more nutritious and humane source of kosher meat than is commercially available in Boston, and to encourage Jewish spiritual growth through education about the meaning of kashrut.

Click here to read more about our mission.

OUR FIRST SHECHITA OF THE SEASON WILL TAKE PLACE ON JUNE 27! Click on “How It Works” to read about how you can purchase chicken. PLEASE DON’T leave a comment as a way of contacting us! Just email info@lokomeat.com. If you have previously left a comment and not heard back, please send us an email instead.

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