Being Kosher has always meant making careful choices about the food you select, prepare and eat. But now the decision of what type of kosher poultry and beef product to select also includes the option of organic or free-range animal.
According to the International Kosher Council, Kosher refers to food selected and prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws as proscribed in the “Torah” (Old Testament). For example, only mammals that both chew their cud and have cloven hooves are considered kosher – hence the exclusion of pork. Fish must have fins and scales to be kosher and birds of prey are excluded from the list of acceptable food. Although primarily steeped in Jewish custom and law, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists and vegetarians who are seeking a higher level of cleanliness in their foods often utilize kosher food.
With its strictures and guidelines it’s not difficult to understand why a growing number of kosher-keeping individuals and families are seeking out free-range and organic products when they are looking for kosher poultry and beef. But, just as non-kosher shoppers have to search for acceptable free-range/organic alternatives, not to mention the higher cost for free-range and organic products (kosher products are themselves usually higher priced), kosher shoppers also have to accept that their search will be a little more difficult.
Online and Kosher
Increasingly, the Internet is one place they can turn to help them find what they are looking for. Several online kosher meat and poultry sellers are available, such as Aviglatt.com and igourmet.com. And, while relying on products flown in (meaning maybe not as fresh as going to your local butcher shop) may not be their first choice, it competes equally well with the frozen prepared and packaged offerings you’ll find
Some big box stores like Costco also carry kosher products with organic and free-range pedigrees and they even have an online ordering and shipping option.
One of the largest providers of kosher food products, Empire Kosher, also has a free-range selection (though not organic). However, their product line is not available online.
A word of caution about buying kosher, according to the Orthodox Union – the leader in the Kosher certification process for decades: A number of retailers indicate kosher, but lack the appropriate certification by recognized organizations such as the Orthodox Union (you often see their OU designation in a circle on the label of products they’ve certified).
As the free-range and organic market broadens and more people seek out these types of products, kosher options will expand as well.