Kosher, and Organic, and Free Range, and......... ??
Have any of you tried the meats from the free range, natural, organic, ethical, etc. kosher vendors? I am talking about places like
www.growandbehold.com or www.kolfoods.com
or similar (there are others).
My family tries very hard to reduce our environmental footprint and walk-the-walk instead of just talking the talk, but I have yet to take the leap into these vendors. Kosher meat is very expensive, but these vendors are at least 25%-35% more, and that has kept me from patronizing them so far. But as I get ready to purchase for the chagim, I am wondering if they are worth it.
There are many ways to evaluate this purchase: taste, costs, ethics, environmental impact, buy local, kashrut issues, etc. I know that the values part of the equation is very personal. And the kashrut agencies are the same: OU, Star-K, etc.
But what about the quality of the meat? Are these meats noticeably better tasting? less fatty? Or is the value and enjoyment simply that you bought it instead of feedlot cruelty beef?
And, is there really a difference in the way these animal are treated? I can read the claims on the websites, but, the skeptic in me wonders if these animals really live (and die) in a gentler way.
i am vegetarian so i cant answer many of your questions, but i will say that the only eggs we buy are those that are 'certified humane'. Are any of the meats you mentioned certified humane? That should at least tell you something about how the animals are treated.. As i write this, though, I wonder if shechita immediately disqualifies these companies from being certified?
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I have ordered from both sites and tried to compare those meats to those I buy locally. I thought the chicken was a bit more "chickeny". My husband saw no difference. The lamb from Kolfoods was had a milder taste than the local fare. That may be better or not depending how you feel about lamb. Grow and behold just started carrying lamb, so I can't comment on them. I do feel the beef tastes better and I thought the skirt steak from Grow and Behold was the best I'd ever had. Good enough to reorder! I tried the turkey thighs from Kolfoods and thought they had a more developed flavor. I just ordered turkey from Grow and Behold so I can't comment yet. The quality of the products and service from both websites has been fine. I don't buy from them exclusively because of the cost and I try to support local businesses as well, but despite the price I do want to support these sort of efforts in the kosher community. One last comment; although it is a website Naf (one of the owners) of Grow and Behold has called me twice to see how I liked the products and asked what I'd like to see. Says something about their customer service.
I've had grow and behold and they're great. One of the best briskets I've ever had. I also love their sausages. The chicken is better than empire, but I don't think it's worth the premium, while the beef was much better and had a smaller markup over the local kosher prices.