Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Katherine Anderson, Ph. D, Environmental Program

Second Advisor

Susan Leff, Executive Director, Jewish Communities of Vermont

Keywords

religious food ways, eco-kosher, Jews in Vermont, local meat

Abstract

The laws of kashrut delineate the Jewish dietary practice and prohibitions. Certified kosher food is readily found in super markets across the world, despite the fact that Jews account for only .2% of the world’s population, and 1.4% of the US population. Processed kosher food is easily accessible in the United States, but kosher meat is scarce in regions where there are smaller Jewish communities such as Vermont. Muslim Americans also face this problem as halal meat is hard to find in peripheral communities. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Burlington had a Jewish community that supported several kosher shochetim, ritual slaughterers, but as meat processing was centralized in the secular world, kosher meat processing departed from smaller communities. Today there are no shochtim in Vermont and the kosher meat available in some grocery stores in the state is shipped in from as far as South and Central America. The Jewish community of Vermont today is estimated to be around 20,000 people. Members of the community have expressed an interest in having meat that is grown and slaughtered locally in accordance with the intention behind Jewish law.

In order to gain an understanding of the possibilities of local kosher meat in Vermont, I interviewed fourteen people from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds representing a range of opinions on alternative kosher meat food ways. I also compiled archival data to provide a clearer understanding of the historical context of kosher food in Vermont. While there seem to be considerable barriers to the prospect of a local sustainable kosher meat in Vermont such as scale, religious difference, and market potential, I found that the local community believes that there are potential models that could be successfully implemented in a manner of different ways. I discussed the challenges and possibilities of these options with lay leaders, community members and experts in the field of sustainable kosher meat. In conclusion, if there was an individual in the community willing to take on this kind of project, there are a few different ways that a local sustainable kosher meat supply could be achieved in Vermont.

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