In penning Green Talk, I have met so many people who have created green businesses because of their own needs. All businesses are inspiring and passionate. However, KOL Foods and its founder, Devora Kimelman-Block, stopped me in my tracks. Kimelman-Block took on the kosher meat industry, and created an organic, grass-fed, Glatt kosher meat and poultry company delivering to both Jews and non-Jews alike across the United States. But, here is the kicker. Kimelman-Block had no background in the meat industry or the food industry before starting KOL foods. Talk about a steep learning curve combining organic and kosher with their distinctly different requirements.
So to say I was in awe is merely understatement.
Watch my video or audio interview with Kimelman-Block. Her inspiring, nothing stands in the way attitude is so motivating. If you are thinking about starting a business, Kimelman-Block will push you over the edge.
Why Buy Kosher?
You might be tempted to say “pass” when you start reading this article since it is about kosher food, but you would be surprised that Kimelman-Block’s clientele is not strictly Jewish. The term kosher means “clean, fit, and proper.” For more information about how kosher meat is slaughtered, see here. Basically, in a nutshell, Devora explained that due to kosher stringent requirements, only a third of the meat is acceptable to become kosher meat. As Rabbi Shraga Simmons explains there are hygienic reasons why to eat kosher
“There are many laws that promote health. Judaism forbids eating animals that died without proper slaughter and the draining of the blood (which is a medium for the growth of bacteria). Judaism also forbids eating animals that have abscesses in their lungs or other health problems.”
He further explains the moral reasons:
“We are taught to be sensitive to others’ feelings — even to the feelings of animals. A mother and her young are forbidden to be slaughtered on the same day, and of course “don’t boil a kid (goat) in its mother’s milk.”
“The Torah prohibits cruelty to animals. We must not remove the limb of an animal while it is still alive (a common practice, prior to refrigeration). When we slaughter an animal, it must be done with the least possible pain; there is a special knife that is so sharp that even the slightest nick in the blade renders it impermissible. This prevents pain to the animal.”
The Organic Myth
With all these rules in place, why buy anything but kosher? Kimelman-Block explains that an organic and/or kosher certification does not bar cattle or poultry being confined to pens or preclude mistreatment. PETA states in their article, “The Organic and Free-Range Myth,”
“[m]any organic and free-range farms cram thousands of animals together in sheds or mud-filled lots to increase profits, just as factory farms do, and the animals often suffer through the same mutilations—such as debeaking, dehorning, and castration without painkillers—that occur on factory farms.”
On the other hand, KOL Foods provides both meats and poultry, which is 100% grass-fed (meat), pastured (poultry,) free range, hormone and antibiotic free as well as organic fed. Kimelman-Block explained in our interview that 100% grass-fed beef tastes so much better than simply organic meat. In fact, she didn’t discern a difference in taste between organic, non-grass-fed and non-organic meat.
To give you a flavor of KOL’s commitment for transparency and sustainability, listed below is their beef standards:
“We offer domestic, dry aged, Black Angus Appalachian Trail Beef as well as our Grassland Range Beef line. At KOL Foods, we know our cattle and tell you their story. We are committed to transparency, sustainability, animal welfare, your health and offering the most delicious meat in the market!
- 100% grass-fed, 100% grass-finished and 100% pastured
- Raised on non-industrial family owned farms and ranches
- Never confined to pens or lots
- No hormones added
- No antibiotics
- OU or Star-K glatt kosher as is indicated on the butcher’s label on each package
- Appalachian Trail Beef uses Temple Grandin slaughter techniques
- Grassland Range Beef never uses shackle & hoist slaughter methods”
In addition, the Company carries lamb, chicken, turkey, duck and wild caught salmon.
KOL products do not carry a USDA organic certification. As Kimleman-Block explains due to her companies size, she had to find slaughter houses that would be willing to slaughter kosher. Adding the burden of organic certification along with kosher certification would be too arduous for her slaughter houses at this point. Knowing Kimelman-Block, as her companies grow, I am sure her future products will be certified organic. Nothing seems to stand in her way.
Where can I buy?
The Company has an online retail shopping site which lists its products. In addition, you can become a member of one of their metro buying clubs or form your own for reduced shipping costs. In order to form a buying club, you must have a 10-18 order minimum. The buying club shipments are July 4, Passover, Rosh Hashana and Thanksgiving (and more often if there is interest.) Today is the last day for the Rosh Hashana buying club.
When I asked Kimelman-Block about KOL’s cost as compared to non-kosher organic grass-fed beef, she stated that there was a 20% premium in cost. Just to give you a frame of reference, my shopping market kosher chopped meat costs $6.29 a pound. KOL Foods is $10 a pound for a 6 lb order of Grassland Range Beef. Note, I can’t tell if my meat is 85% lean ground meat which adds to the price. A competitor, Wise Organic Pastures’ ground beef is about $9 a pound.
Motivation to Start Your Own Company
At the end of the video, I asked Kimelman-Block words of advice to motivate others who are sitting on the fence in starting their own green companies. Her response was in so many words, if there is a will there is a way. She doesn’t take no for an answer and takes her challenges head on trying to work out why something can’t seem to work.
As I mentioned above, Kimelman-Block doesn’t have a background in farming or the meat industry, but has worked out a system that the rest of the meat industry should be take notice. She leads by example and compassion not simply price. Given, KOL Foods expanding buying clubs, the world is bucking the herd mentality and opting for a more humane and spiritual way to eat meat and poultry.
Join the conversation:
- Do you eat kosher meat and would you consider buying meat from KOL foods?
- How do you feel about the meat industry? How has that impacted your meat consumption?
- Even if you don’t keep kosher, would you consider purchasing KOL foods products?
- What are your thoughts about KOL Foods?