Here is my second statement, though: after unpacking my first order from Grow and Behold, I was almost tempted to give that practice up simply by regarding the quality of the meat. Usually, it’s the other way around.
You may want to know what qualifies a vegetarian to write an article about meat. As a nutritionist and author of a book on food, I’ve researched which types of meat and poultry are the healthiest to eat, and why exactly this is the case. I also know how to differentiate between labels at the supermarket. What seems trustworthy on a meat or poultry label -- words like “organic” or “free-range” for example -- are not always necessarily what they seem to be. On a personal level, I was looking for a product for my family that was the perfect trifecta: pasture-fed, ethically-raised and certified kosher; I knew I was facing a challenge.
(Click Read More for meat terminology and other information on pastured, humanely raised, kosher meat.)
At the supermarket I would occasionally see USDA certified organic and/or free-range kosher chicken*; yes, an improvement, but a dubious one, as the USDA label in this case only verifies that the chickens either are eating organic feed (not necessarily a natural diet for a chicken), and/or they have access to the outdoors (not necessarily that they are going outdoors to eat). As for red meat (i.e. beef, lamb, etc.) I saw no acceptable kosher options at all.
The time had come for me to up the ante. And then lo and behold, there was Grow and Behold.
It’s important to note that Grow and Behold’s meats are termed as pastured, which is somewhat different from grassfed. The company, however, is completely transparent about their practices. True grassfed beef is never fed grain, and according to Grow and Behold’s website, “During their last few months, a limited amount of grain is gradually added to our cattle's diet (up to 50%), while the cattle continue to eat as much grass as they wish. Including some grain in their diet helps us deliver a more tender, delicious and consistent product.”
Differentiation between the terminology is something that people should educate themselves on. According to Marilyn Noble, spokesperson for the American Grassfed Association, “This is a really confusing topic for many people - consumers, farmers, chefs - but we're working hard to educate people so they know what they're buying or at least have a good idea about what questions to ask.” She has written a blog on meat terminology which is really helpful in educating anyone who’s interested in reading up on these terms (http://www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com/how-to-buy-grass-fed-meats/).
There are other kosher meat products, some grassfed, but their literature seemed to stop short of providing information about the ethical treatment of the animals once they were brought in from the pasture. Grow and Behold’s practices seemed more transparent and accessible to me. They encourage visits to their farms. Prior to this article even being conceived, I encountered a level of customer service and cordiality which made me feel as if I were dealing personally with a farmer I knew and trusted.
Grow and Behold offers Glatt Kosher Pastured beef, lamb, chicken and turkey, as well as specialty items such as chorizo, sausages, beef bacon, and hot dogs, with boneless chicken breast filets the most popular item. All products are nitrite and nitrate free, with no antibiotics or hormones added.
The greater New York area is the largest kosher market in the world, says Naf, therefore the company offers weekly home delivery to the entire region, which includes the boroughs, Long Island, Rockland County, Westchester and Bergen and Essex Counties in northern New Jersey, as well as monthly delivery to South Jersey and the Philadelphia area. But that’s not all; mail order is also a huge part of Grow and Behold’s business, and the way I received my first order. It arrived well packaged and insulated in dry ice, and I would not hesitate to order this way again. They ship via FedEx Brown nationwide. They also have “buying clubs,” which cut down on delivery costs, to key markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle.
You’ll pay a premium for pastured, humanely raised, kosher meat, but truthfully, the larger monetary leap was from the conventional product to kosher...this was just one more step, and a necessary one from my point of view.
But how does the meat taste? Although I cook meat regularly for my family, I have an elaborate system of utensil usage to avoid touching the raw product (if you’re a vegetarian you’ll understand this!), and I actually hadn’t handled chopped meat in about fifteen years. However, this meat was actually so appealing that I put my hands right on it. I felt a respect for where it had come from and how it had been produced. It smelled fresh as it cooked.
My husband took one bite of his burger (on a stone-ground whole wheat bun, with organic lettuce and onions, of course!) and promptly announced that he would never eat anything other than this type of meat again. That’s how different it tasted, that’s how good it was. When I asked for other adjectives to describe it, all I got was “it tastes like real meat.”
Hmmm. What did the other kosher meat taste like? “Bad aftertaste.” Clearly, he’s not a food writer, but a voracious eater for sure. He downed the two large burgers in nothing flat.
Naftali Hanau, CEO and Founder.
For more information go to www.growandbehold.com or call 888-790-5781
Author's note: I've since ordered numerous times from this company and have not ever been disappointed by their service or their product. I highly recommend them.
*For more information, see Chicken: How To Make Sense Of Supermarket Labels