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Feb 22, 2008 10:25 AM

Looking for well-raised Kosher meat ... any suggestions?

Recently I've been looking for well raised, or naturally raised meats. Ones with no hormones etc... and where the animals were kept in ideal conditions. I was suggested 'Fresh From the Farm' and I am happy, but what I would truly like is KOSHER along the same lines. Does anyone know where I can buy Kosher meat well raised?

I heard that many times Kosher is raised in factory farm and just slaughtered differently.... does anyone know about this?

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  1. I don't think you're going to have much luck. Kosher meat by definition has to come from an animal that has split hooves and chews its cud, and is healthy and clean at slaughter time. The 'healthiness' is traditionally determined by inspecting the lungs and other internal organs. There are no rules as to what the animal has been fed or the conditions it was raised in. The killing is done by cutting the animal's neck and letting all the blood drain out. Further washing and salting is also done in order to eliminate blood. Strictly Kosher meat will also only come from the front quarters of an animal. None of these requirements will ensure that the animal was naturally and humanely raised or be hormone free. You might want to contact someone like Toronto-based Chai Kosher Poultry to see if they have more insights and suggestions for you.

    1. I don't believe that battery chickens can be kosher. Beyond that, allowable living conditions are pretty wide open. There's a body of opinion to the effect that kosher chickens must have been free ranging, but I can't attest to the accuracy of this point of view. There are three poultry processors whose products are sold widely in Toronto, and whom you might contact for more information. They are Chai in Toronto, Marvid in Montreal, and Empire in the US.

      As to red meat, there are no rules that I'm aware of concerning the conditions under which the animals are raised. I can only suggest that you talk to some high end kosher butchers about their sources of supply. Hartman's comes to mind and there are a few others along Bathurst and in Thornhill. I'm not optimistic, since the market is so small, but it's worth a try.

      The supply of kosher bison and venison is very small, so perhaps the chances of getting humanely raised meat are better than with beef/veal and lamb.

      Unfortunately, much of the kosher meat in North America comes from an outfit called AgriProcessors and various affiliated companies. Though they are supervised by many different kosher certifiers, they are not known as a model operation in any other way.

      Good luck.

      1. The condition of the animal most certainly is a factor in its kashrus status.
        See http://www.the-definition-of-kosher.c... for some
        parameters. In fact a significant contributing cause of the popularity of
        kosher food outside of the Jewish community is the food scares that
        have become so common in recent years.

        4 Replies
        1. re: menachem

          Forgive me if I appear somewhat skeptical about the practical application of the kashrus status as detailed in your web link. I would like to believe that cattle are actually monitored for 8 days before they are slaughtered to confirm that they are healthy yet I'd also like to know what tests are performed for those 8 days to confirm this status? The t'reifa rules you describe appear to be concerned primarily with gross physical problems, such as broken bones, missing organs, etc. Even if all of these conditions are satisfied it still does not address the concerns about whether the animals were humanely raised or the type of food they had access to. Whether Kosher or not, you still need to know and trust your sources.

          1. re: menachem

            Glatt kosher animals are undoubtedly physically healthy when they reach the killing floor. However, kashruth does not address issues of animal "lifestyles" before that time. Animals destined for kosher slaughter are not raised separately from birth. A kosher animal may or may not have been raised humanely. The rules of kashruth only come into play when the time of slaughter approaches.

            1. re: embee

              I can't overcome skepticism of course. I can tell you that to be permitted, an animal cannot have been given hormones. The rules of kashrus most certainly do come into play before slaughter. Your skepticism notwithstanding, the very absence of what you dismiss as only gross physical problems, are in fact your best assurance that the animal was humanely treated. Otherwise it would have developed one of them.

              1. re: menachem

                To the best of my knowledge, growth hormones, while used in the US, are not legal in Canada for animals destined for human consumption. (I'm open to correction if this isn't true.)

                Animals destined for kosher slaughter are bought in the open market, from the same sources as those that will end up treif. As noted above, some may have been humanely raised; most were not.

                Many factory raised animals do not exhibit tangible physical problems. Conversely, humanely raised animals can, and do, get sick. The OP is specifically looking at animal "lifestyle" issues. Lifestyle is not a part of kosher certification.

                Kashruth relates primarily to circumstances surrounding slaughter and preparation. Kosher meat does not come from animals that were born and raised on "kosher farms".

                When I was a child, people paid little attention to "animal lifestyles", and reasonably so. Most animals were still raised on small family farms. With the rise of industrial farming, many people have become concerned about animal living conditions. There may very well be a "kosher Cumbrae's" in Toronto. If there is, they have not publicized themselves very well.

                Perhaps eggs make for a better example. While battery chickens are, theoretically, not kosher for eating, eggs from those unfortunate chickens certainly are.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I have not seen "free-range" or organic kosher red meat, but have seen organic frozen kosher chickens at Toronto Kosher in Toronto. They may not carry it anymore as it is very expensive, but I am sure they would order it for you if it were available.

              With respect to purveyors of kosher chicken, in addition to Chai, Marvid and Empire, Toronto Kosher slaughters and kashers their own chicken, as does Perls (smalller version of old store).

              1 Reply
              1. re: sherry f

                Toronto Kosher and Shefa Meats Inc the processing arm of the company and Perls Meats do not slaughter anything. Chai Kosher Poultry and Marvid Poultry deliver on a regular basis. All kashering is done at the actual slaughter house. Empire does not ship to Canada at all as far as I know. I do know that Shefa and Perls kashers and trebors (devains) meat that is also slaughted off site