To start from the beginning of my quest for locally grown, kosher grass fed beef, click here.
The key to locally raised, kosher grass fed beef is a kosher slaughter. And we don't have a kosher slaughterer (schohet) or slaughterhouse here in the Bay Area. And until we proven there's demand to sustain such an enterprise, we probably won't. But there is a schohet in Los Angeles who comes to the Bay Area frequently - and with minimal effort, he and I connected. Rabbi Kagan is educating me about kosher slaughter AND grass fed beef. Turns out, he's a strong advocate for grass fed beef.
He comes to the bay area because his son lives in Walnut Creek with the Walnut Creek Chabad House and his nephew is moving there. Rabbi Kagan is very committed to grass fed beef – for health and ethical reasons. So much so that he has a Los Angeles supply available.
I have a lot to learn from Rabbi Kagan – but most importantly, he is a large animal schohet (i.e. he doesn’t handle chickens) and he is working with a ranch up here as well. Hopefully we can partner to bring quality kosher grass fed beef to the community.
Rabbi Kagan did emphasize that you have to cook this beef differently – it’s very lean. That means marinating, slow cooking and paying attention on the grill or stove top. This beef is 30% leaner than conventional beef. Adding some healthy fats is sometimes desired.
Rabbi Kagan is exploring a line of pre-cooked products – rare roast beef you can cut and serve, for example. That’s an interesting extension – although my first priority is getting kosher local, grass fed beef in the hands of the Peninsula community at a competitive price. Then we'll do the pre-cooked to make it even better.
Rabbi Kagan has a problem - he cannot sell all the meat from his cows because Jewish law prohibits certain cuts - the round roast, for example. So he asks me do I have "goyim" - non-Jews - who would be interested? And I'm pretty sure that we have plenty of non-Jews who would be interested in this quality product.
Holding Ranch and Marin Sun Farms are both educating me on the combinations of cuts that our community would expect to get through this process. And we'll definitely get some kosher slaughtered, non-kosher grass fed meat - for those who want the product and don't care about the kashruth.
Are you interested? Let me know!
New Zealand is reconsidering it's ban on kosher slaughter. Rabbi Kagan and I spoke a bit about kosher and humane slaughter. In his opinion, and mine, a proper kosher slaughter is a very swift death with minimal pain. Dr. Temple Grandin, the leading authority on humane animal handling, also conveys this point of view.
The issue for many people rightly concerned about humane handling is that a kosher slaughter does not stun the animal. It does hold the animal comfortably upright in an ASPCA approved holding device. The schochet uses a razor sharp, large knife that severs the neck, jugular and trachea in one fast cut - otherwise it's not kosher. The animal bleeds out within 2-10 seconds. This method was developed out a respect for life as a gift from G-d.
Stunning is the preferred option for humane slaughter - but consumers should know that the stunning is often done with electricity and may require multiple jolts to render the animal "stunned". You cannot use gas to stun the animal as it permeates the meat.
I hope New Zealand permanently reverses it's ban and that consumers who value humane slaughter re-consider kosher.