1. Ditch that canned tuna, buy Alaskan salmon instead.
According to the website healthytuna.com canned tuna is the second most popular seafood in the United States and accounts for 1/3 of the entire U.S. fish segment. Americans eat approximately 1 billion pounds of canned tuna at an average rate of 2.7 pounds per capita annually. Tuna’s immense popularity is quite worrying when one looks at the destructive practices of the industry as well as the high levels of mercury found in most tuna fish.* For those die hard tuna lovers out there sustainable low mercury options do exist,* but they can be hard to find and are often an expensive alternative to a traditionally low cost product. Luckily an easy and inexpensive answer can be readily found for an affordable price, canned Alaskan salmon. The Alaskan salmon fishery is widely known as one of the world’s most sustainably maintained. The fishery enjoys a best choice ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood watch program as well as the coveted Marine Stewardship Council seal of approval. Wild salmon also boasts low levels of mercury and exceptionally high amounts of omega 3. All this factored in with the affordable price at which it can be purchased virtually anywhere, makes canned salmon my number one easiest way to eat animals more ethically in 2014.
I spent last weekend at the first ever Jewish Intentional Communities Conference, which was cosponsored by Hazon and the Pearlstone Retreat Center. It was very inspiring to see the many unique intentional communities in the works at the moment, and the conference gave me hope that I could one day live a rich and rural Jewish life. But my busy weekend left me no time to write a post so here's some interesting articles and media that have been floating around.
To make kosher meat, the first thing you need is a knife. But not just any knife will do; you need something called a chalef. The name chalef comes from the word lehachlif, which means “to change or transform.” With this very powerful instrument, we are able to change a living animal into something completely different: food. This knife is very long, has a flat end, and must be completely sharp and smooth. To ensure that the chalef is perfect, the shochet (kosher butcher) carefully checks it for nicks using his fingernails and re-hones it if even the smallest imperfection is discovered.
I spent last Sunday at the Good Shepard Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas performing my 3rd annual fall heritage turkey harvest. People are used to buying turkey any time of year, but heritage turkeys mate naturally and are consequently restricted to doing so only during their late winter breeding season. After hatching in the spring, the birds grow for eight months and are ready for slaughter just in time for, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. I also spent the day processing several heritage chickens, including some older breeder hens, which gave a lot of rich, yellow chicken fat that I rendered into shmaltz. I even saved the feet and made 12 quarts of delicious poultry stock. To celebrate the harvest, I invited a few friends over for an “organ party,” where we grilled up some hearts and livers from the slaughter, yum! Just two weeks ago, my 10cf freezer was almost empty, but now it is just about two thirds full. Being able to do this all myself is very rewarding, but I also can’t begin to describe how much work it takes and how truly mentally and physically exhausting it all is. When I started doing shechita I wanted to be connected to my meat no matter what the hassle, but after almost three years, I admit, I would love sometimes to go the store and buy some meat like everybody else.
It often amazes me how little most of us know about what is entailed in killing animals, and even more so, how little even well-versed Jews know about kosher slaughter (aka shechita). This lack of understanding often leads to either idealized or vilified views of kosher and other forms of slaughter. In order to eat animals ethically, it is essential that we understand the end of our animals’ lives. Therefore, I will attempt to explain and demystify this topic in many of my coming posts.
About the blog:
Welcome to The Kosher Omnivore's Quest! My old blog on kosher slaughter, kosher meat, and animal welfare. For new content check out my new website, The Kosher Cut™. There you'll find: blog posts about shechita and related topics, educational slaughter presentations, kosher slaughter training, and a selection of high quality professional kosher slaughter equipment.