Loko – Providing Boston-Area Jews With Kosher, Local, Free-Range, Humanely Raised Meat

Thanks so much to Marion Menzin for this great guest post.  Marion is co-director of LoKo, a non-profit organization bringing local, kosher, sustainably produced meat to the Boston area. She is the mother of three boys, an occasional freelance writer, and now a chicken plucker.  

Photo of Lamb Shank by Foodistablog

Two years ago, I was one of many, many Jews frustrated with the lack of access to ethically produced, nutritious, kosher meat. By now it is common knowledge that the unnatural – there is no better word – conditions that prevail in industrial factory farming mean two things: cruel treatment for animals and corn- and soy-fed meat for humans, which leave us deficient in essential fatty acids and vitamins.  I firmly believed that our bodies, especially the growing bodies of children, are made to eat meat and need it to stay healthy, but I simply was not willing to feed my family industrially produced meat any longer.

There seemed to be only one alternative: find a shochet, convince a local farmer to work with us, and bring them together to raise, slaughter, and kasher some animals. A local Orthodox rabbi recommended a shochet, and I was lucky enough to find Dave, an extraordinarily open-minded small farmer in central Massachusetts, who agreed to let the shochet do the shechita and kashering in his barn with the assistance of his farm crew. Another family joined us, and together we weathered the difficulties that arose during the first experimental batch of chickens.

Fast forward two years. Though at times we have been overwhelmed with the many challenges involved in coordinating and managing the project, we are now committed to bringing a new kind of kosher meat to the greater Boston community. My partner and I are in the process of forming a non-profit, LoKo, and our mission is threefold: to provide Boston-area Jews with kosher, local, free-range, humanely raised chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef; to educate Jews about where their meat comes from and how it is slaughtered and kashered; and to help Jews deepen the spiritual aspect of their practice of kashrut through direct participation in the kashering process.

At the moment, LoKo functions like a co-op with a work component. Everyone who purchases meat comes to the farm to help with the shechita. In the process, they meet our shochet, satisfy themselves with his credentials, and observe his humane treatment of the animals and his adherence to halacha. They shake hands with our farmer, Dave, and the farm crew – friends and family of Dave’s – and talk with them about how they raise the chickens and run their farm. Everyone present shares work and opinions on animals, food, Jewish life and practice, and countless other subjects. We don’t think, we don’t hope, we don’t assume that these animals are raised and killed according to the principles of halacha and our own ethical requirements – we know it.

The massive labor entailed in producing kosher meat at first seemed like an obstacle to our small-scale operation, but it has come to be part of our mission. Through interacting with the shochet and observing the details of the kashering process, LoKo consumers have the opportunity to reflect on the value of kashrut in a way that would not be possible without direct involvement. And just as we have a newfound admiration for Dave and his crew for what they go through to produce high-quality meat for us, they in turn have new exposure to Jews and to kashrut in its best possible form: as part of a religious system that views the care, slaughter, and consumption of animals as holy acts that must be carried out with yirat shamayim – awe of G-d.

For more information on Loko, contact Marion at marionmenzin@gmail.com

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8 Responses to “Loko – Providing Boston-Area Jews With Kosher, Local, Free-Range, Humanely Raised Meat”

  1. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Kol Hakavod – we’re starting to do the same thing in the Baltimore area. Interested? swfarms@together.net

  2. Dena Lerner Says:

    Thank you for pioneering something all kashrus needs soul. I am not a vegetarian because i believe hashem (after the flood) intended us to eat meat and it is part (in small portions) of a healthy diet. But those considerations are not enough to justify the industry we have created to suffice our constant growing needs for meat. I live in Israel and hope that these efforts will spead to all of the jewish community so that we sit down to bless our food we know that our efforts in brings that meat to our table was done in a menchlich way.

  3. Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz Says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Marion! It is exciting to learn about the work you’ve been doing in Boston. Kol hakavod!

    For people looking for kosher, ethical meat resources don’t forget to visit JCarrot’s resource page:

    http://jcarrot.org/resources/k.....able-meat/

  4. Gershon Says:

    Dena,
    Mentschlich is the best word to describe the process. As someone who was there this weekend, I’m incredibly grateful to Marion, Naf the shochet, and Dave the farmer for giving us the opportunity to participate.

  5. Virginia Hamburg Says:

    This is such good news! I live in Brookline. Can you tell me how I can get involved?

    Virginia

  6. Jewschool.com: Further Innovations in Progressive Kashrut | untitled itsdlevy project Says:

    [...] what it’s worth, only one of us plucked and kashered free-range, local, nearly-organic chicken this year, and it wasn’t TWJ. Enjoying deep-fried, sugary goodness and caring about the planet [...]

  7. BonnyAddisson Says:

    Wonderful recipe.

  8. Alan Cole Says:

    I just found this – can you share info on how I can access your products? Thanks a lot.

    Alan Cole

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