Menachem Mendel

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Kosher Conscience

Recently there has been an attempt to create a framework for a system of kosher slaughter which is more humane than is usually found in the kosher slaughter factories in both America and abroad. The group is called Kosher Conscience and the following is some information about their efforts and contact information.

How is this meat treated more humanely?

The founding philosophy of Kosher Conscience is the humane treatment of the animal at every stage. What that means is that, while it�s excellent to have grass-fed or even organic meat, those distinctions do not cover the full range of the animal�s treatment.

Our animals will:

1) Be free- or pasture-raised and grass fed. This means that will live the way animals are supposed to live- out in a field, eating grass that they can walk around freely to get. During the winter, some animals may be housed in a barn and fed stored grass or hay (we are trying to avoid grain for the most part and there will be no corn, which is destructive to the digestive system of cattle). This is necessary for them to stay out of the cold! They will never be in feed-lots or pumped with hormones or anti-biotics.

2) Be safely transported. They will not be crammed into cattle cars or trucks but transported safely and as comfortably as possible. All transport is somewhat stressful to the animal, since it does not understand what�s happening. We will therefore work to minimize this stress and give the animal time to relax after being transported.

3) Slaughtered humanely and painlessly. Animals will not be present when other animals are being slaughtered. Additionally, we are working with various halachic authorities and shochtim to utilize a shechitah method that causes minimal stress to the animal prior to the cut. Traditional shechitah involves turning the animal over, which is very stressful. There are ways to shecht an animal and keep it upright. This will not be a conveyor belt slaughter, with animals being rushed in and out to make quota. Animals will be moved with a minimum of stress and will have the proper time, care and attention devoted to them to make sure everything goes smoothly and painlessly.

Where does the meat come from?

We are currently talking to several farms in New York State to be the providers of our beef, cattle and poultry. These are all family run operations who work under the same guiding principles we do and believe in our philosophy.

What�s the cost?

The cost has yet to be determined, since it will depend both on our volume and on the transportation and shechitah costs, which are still being worked out. But we are hoping to provide this meat for no more than what you pay in the supermarket now. There will be a yearly fee for joining the co-op, which we estimate to be around $25 per person.

What�s the hashgacha (kosher certification)?

The hashgacha will be a private hechsher (certification) that is beyond reproach. The people we are speaking with now have shechted for several gedolei ha�dor (reknown Torah scholars). Once details are finalized, we will publicize who the Rav HaMachshir (certifying Rabbi) is.

Where will/can the meat be picked up?

We will do our best to accommodate all customer members as best we can. At first, the pick up will most likely be in Manhattan but we hope to be able to add Brooklyn very quickly if not immediately.

Can we have better contact info?

For now, the best way to contact us is through admin@kosherconscience.com If you want to talk to someone on the phone, please email your name, phone number and any questions you have and someone will get in touch with you.

How can I help?

Ah, the million dollar question! No co-op can function without the help of its members. We will certainly need folks to staff the pick-up points on days when meat comes in. We may also need volunteers to help with logistics, orders, webmastering and potentially even accompanying the meat from the farm to NYC on occasion. Right now, outr #1 priority is finding a lawyer to help us with the legalities involved in creating this entity. If you or anyone you know is able to help with that, or you have any leads, please email us at admin@kosherconscience.com. Some of you have offered to help in specific ways and someone will be in touch with you shortly about that. If you have something specific you�d like to do, please let us know.

For one related responsum see here and for more discussion about some of the issues see R. Israel Levinger, Schechita in Light of the Year 2000. Also see these recommendations from Dr. Temple Grandin, the gedolat hador on these issues.

One Response to “Kosher Conscience”

  1. 1
    Menachem Mendel:

    Levinger allowed himself to be used by Rubashkin after the PETA scandal, and proved himself to be less than honest when real world dollars and rabbis got in the way.

    Also, the co-op should know that, outside of Rubashkin and perhaps one or two very small plants, all American and Canadian schechted beef is done in standing pens, most designed by Grandin.

    The real issue is South American beef exported to America. Alle, Meal Mart,and other Satmar brands and Rubashkin all have extensive SA operations that use shackle and hoist slaughter, in other words, hanging the live animal by its hind leg(s) and then shechting it. This is very cruel.

    When you buy any raw beef product or prepared beef product with hechshers from the OU, OK, Crown Heights Beit Din, Satmar, etc., you are often buying that SA beef.

    While I wish the co-op success, what we really need a new supervising agency to replace those listed above.
    Shmarya | Homepage | 12.14.06 – 6:37 am | #

    My impression is that the co-op will NOT be using one of the established supervising agencies, rather they will find someone reliable outside of the existing agencies. If I get any updates I’ll post them.
    Menachem Mendel | Homepage | 12.14.06 – 8:57 am | #

    Do you think this possibility will be made available to other states?
    Anonymous | 12.14.06 – 12:32 pm | #

    I hope they reconsider the hashgacha issue. I think this could be a big thing- once people find out about the human health implications of corn-fed beef. There is nothing wrong with stressing that the animals wil be treated well, but let me caution against having this effort be against company x or rabbinic group y, even if that was the initial motivating factor. Focus on the positive. In order to make the biggest impact, and avoid damaging talk ( which you know will follow if an unknown hashgacha is used) Go for the OU. Use this as part of an education process for rabbanim as well.
    Larry Rabinovich | 12.14.06 – 1:42 pm | #

    The only information that I have is what I posted.
    Menachem Mendel | Homepage | 12.14.06 – 5:31 pm | #

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