Ethical & Sustainable Kashrut
Some religious Jews separate certain technical laws of kashrut from the rest of Torah. They determine if a kosher food company is acceptable only if a small number of mitzvot, especially about slaughter and inspection, are followed. People in this school of thought believe that this is a “traditional” or “Orthodox” position.
Others, influenced by teaches such as Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi advocate integrating kashrut to include all Torah mitzvot. This would include mitzvot related to ecological considerations, humane treatment of workers, and humane treatment of animals.
Hazon has collected information on a number of companies who make sustainable, kosher food products.
Recent scandals in the kosher meat world have led many to reconsider what kosher meat really means. While we might have at one time assumed that kosher meat was healthier and more sustainable, in fact most kosher meat is raised the same as conventional non-kosher meat.However, a small number of crusaders have launched companies to make sustainably raised kosher meat available ….as more and more people are looking for meat that meets their standards of kashrut, as well as environmental sustainability, worker treatment and animal welfare, these companies are in the right place at the right time.
Green Pastures Poultry: Founded by Ariella Reback in Cleveland, Ohio, this company offers chicken, duck, turkey, and free-range eggs. Green Pastures Poultry can also help you organize an on-farm slaughter with your community.
Grow and Behold Foods: Founded by Naf and Anna Hanau, Grow and Behold Foods currently offers pasture-raised chicken under the product line Sara’s Spring Chicken, delivered fresh in the New York, Boston and Philadelphia areas.
KOL Foods: Founded by Devora Kimmelman Block in the Washington, DC area, KOL Foods (which stands for “Kosher Organic Local” offers grass-fed beef, lamb and poultry, shipped frozen nation-wide. http://www.kolfoods.com/
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:firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-596-0400
Another major player in ethical kashrut is Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization guided by Torah values and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression.
Through community based education, leadership development and action, Uri L’Tzedek creates discourse, inspires leaders, and empowers the Jewish community towards creating a more just world. Tav HaYosher, launched by Uri L’Tzedek, is a local, grassroots initiative to bring workers, restaurant owners and community members together to create just workplaces in kosher restaurants.
Thousands of workers are paid below minimum wage. Even more are denied their legal rights to overtime pay and time off. Workers are often subjected to unsafe and abusive working conditions.
There are three standards that a restaurant must meet to qualify for the Tav HaYosher:
The right to fair pay.
The right to fair time.
The right to a safe work environment