Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is Kosher Greener?

Thanks to Jay for sending me this article from Slate. It's an interesting read for anyone like me who has wondered if the ancient foods laws of kashrut and halal match up with the newer school (though many would argue that it's not new at all) of food purity: sustainability.

So is kosher meat better for the environment than the non-kosher alternative at the supermarket? According to this article, no.

Essentially a kosher animal is one that is raised exactly the same as a non-kosher animal (in a feedlot, on antibiotics, without massages) until the moment it is killed. While a kosher animal may be killed more humanely (an overlap with sustainability), by that point the environmental damage has already been done. Kosher meat may technically fit the criteria followed by observant Jews, but it does little more for the animal, the planet, or the eater. If you want to eat kosher and eat green, you need to look for eco-kosher certification.

As I've said before, if I have the choice between a sustainably raised pig and kosher, supermarket chicken, I take Michael Pollan's advice before the lord's. Kudos to those who are making it easier to do both.

What's really interesting to me is that if you were to raise animals the way Jews did in the ancient days, by default you would end up with eco-kosher. So really the enemy is modernity.

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Seth said...

I also tend to doubt that ancient Jews used as many disposable containers, dishes, and utensils as their modern counterparts do. Or if they did, they were probably compostable/biodegradable, like those I saw all over India recently. Maybe that's what modern, Western Jews should be moving towards - totally smashable, one-time-use, ceramic-ware.

Jay said...

I wonder what effect the Manna had on the environment.

Seth said...

This day and age, if Manna came down, I'd be concerned about it being acid Manna.

Jay said...

You would only have to be worried about that if you wanted the Manna to taste like acid.

If Manna fell down in this day and age, the Republicans would say that we should stop giving out welfare, PETA would dance naked in the streets, and someone would start a class action lawsuit for all the people who got hit by falling Manna.

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