Next Shechita Date and In The News

June 1, 2010

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.

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