In New York, it’s relatively easy to avoid purchasing Rubashkin products while still keeping a kosher kitchen. What’s not easy is finding an alternative to Rubashkin that is truly different. I’m not suggesting that all industrial kosher slaughterhouse operations are guilty of the behavior that Rubashkin is accused of. It’s just that they’re all, well, industrial, with all of the de-“animalization” that goes with it. A loss of identity and individuality is part of the price we pay for automation and standardization, and animals pay it too, even if we have significantly lower thresholds of concern for them.
I recently stumbled on Mitzvah Meat, and they represent a real alternative. The animals they offer are pasture-raised and grass-fed. From their website:
The farmers we are working with are raising grass-fed, grass-finished animals. In other words, these animals will have been living on pasture for all of their lives. They are not treated with any chronic low-level antibiotics, artificial hormones or other growth promoters. The animals and pastures are not treated with pesticides, herbicides, pour-on substances or internal wormers. They are given hay throughout the winter with additional high quality minerals and supplements if needed, particularly under severe winter weather conditions. Some farms supplement with less than 10% farm-grown oats or corn during the coldest winter months.
In addition to all this, we’re talking about ethical practices in raising the animals and salughtering them, kosher supervision, and for New Yorkers, local production.
Ok, but how does it taste, right? We ordered the lamb last month, and I made lamb shoulder chops that were probably the best lamb dish I’ve ever eaten. As it happens, I’m a reasonable cook, but the texture of the meat was incomparable to any lamb I’ve ever had before. Here’s hoping the beef is as good. Maybe next time I’ll even take a picture or two.