As direct descendants of kosher butchers, we're well aware of the ethics issues involved in ritual slaughter. Recently, the Jewish community has begun to acknowledge the same. The immigration raid in May of 2008 on the meat plant Agriprocessors Inc. placed a national spotlight on kosher slaughterhouses, uncovering, among other things, the abusive treatment of underage, undocumented workers. As well, Jonathan Safer Foer's latest book, Eating Animals (Little, Brown, 2009), about the ethics behind diets that include meat, has put the dilemma of keeping kosher at the forefront for many religiously minded Jews.
The Jew and the Carrot, a wonderful website that we turn to for many of our Jewish holiday recipes, has recently focused on ethical kosher eating. Here, you can find sources for sustainable meat raised on local farms and slaughtered by a shochet, a ritual slaughterer who is ethically compelled to treat the animals with respect and compassion. The site also includes personal stories and detailed descriptions of slaughtering practices and kosher dictums. This is required reading for any of us who choose to eat meat, even if that meat is pork.