יום ראשון, יולי 08, 2007

 

Eco-Kashrut: Is it "Eco" and Kosher or is "Eco" the new Kosher?

Saturday's Washington Post ran an article about the concept of eco-kashrut and growing interest in eating foods that are produced in a way that meets Jewish ethical standards, e.g., respectful of the environment, avoiding cruelty to animals, and with responsible labor standards--sustaining ourselves sustainably, as I like to say.

The story notes that:

the most dramatic expansion of eco-kosher principles is likely to come in the next few years as Conservative rabbis and congregations, which occupy the middle ground between Orthodox and Reform Judaism, create a new ethical standard for food production.


What remains unclear to me is whether its advocates think of eco-kashrut as an add-on to conventional kashrut ("eco" and kosher), or as an alternative to it (ecological responsibility as the new kosher). The WashPost notes that:

The Conservative seal of approval will not be based on traditional kosher requirements, such as separating meat from dairy products, avoiding pork and shellfish, and slaughtering animals with a sharp knife across the throat.


That sounds like eco-kosher as the new kosher to me. Yet just a bit later, the article quotes a rabbi as speaking of eco-kashrut as an add-on:

We do believe that most Jews, if given a choice between 'This item is kosher' and 'This item is kosher and also was produced by a company that respects its workers and the environment,' that most Jews will choose the latter.


Obviously, we are a long way from an agreed upon definition. But I would guess that the Jews who are most likely to be attracted to an "eco-kashrut" concept are progressive Jews, who just happen also those least likely to adhere to conventional kashrut. (According to the story, only about 15% of US Jews keep kosher.) If so, then doesn't a concept of eco-kashrut as alternative hold more promise?

Thanks to jewschool for the pointer and discussion.

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