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THE COST OF KOSHER MEAT

April 25, 2004 at 3:08:45p.m.

Not too long ago, over on Kosherblog, they raised the issue of the cost of kosher meat. We would like to offer kudos for a well written article that hits the spot! Indeed, why is kosher meat so expensive?

It used to be that kosher meat was either Choice or Prime- that ceased to be the case when the groups doing shechita changed. The newer groups clearly do not care about the quality of the meat so much as the supposed quality of the shechita.

It used to be that if you passed by a trefe butcher store and looked at the signs in the window, you could take comfort from the fact that the price of quality trefe meat was really not much less than that of kosher meat. We are not speaking of supermarket meat here, but rather high quality trefe meat. In fact, at one time, white veal cutlets were more expensive in the local trefe butcher store than they were in the kosher butcher store!

So what happened? For one thing, Glatt happened. Glatt meat has to be more expensive. When slaughtering non glatt, out of ten animals shechted, it was not uncommon to get ten kosher animals. How many animals have to be shechted and inspected to yield ten glatt animals? Never mind that the amount of glatt meat that comes into NYC is WAY out of statistic proportion of probability! Never mind that the definition of glatt today has been diluted to allow for certain kinds of “sirchot” on the lungs. Even so, the whole notion of glatt is guaranteed to raise the price of meat.

But that is not the whole picture. Kosher meat today is obscenely expensive. Recently, the butcher near me wanted nine dollars a pound for rib steak. Nine dollars! Skirt steaks used to be considered offal. I saw one recently for over ten dollars a pound. Not bad for offal! At that price, the cows are not just contented, they are laughing hysterically.

Recently a kosher shechita house in the midwest closed. All of the kosher organizations were quick to say that there will be no shortage of meat. What bothers me, though, is that the organization that closed their shechita down issued a warning to any other groups who might want to go there and open a kosher operation. I suspect that they closed under less than happy circumstances, but what right do they have to stop another group from going there and maintaining the supply of kosher beef?

At what point will people stop buying kosher meat because it is just too expensive?

I spent $50 on a roast recently. Ok, it was a nice piece of meat. But $50??? When I was in college, I used to buy the cheapest chopped meat for fifty cents a pound (no, it was not before WW11- it was back in the 60’s). Today try to find chopped meat, even the cheapest kind, for under $3.50 a pound.

Somebody is doing us wrong. Someone is killing us with high prices. Perhaps the time has come for us to start protesting to our lawmakers. I suspect that the time has come for someone to investigate the kosher meat industry. The current climb in prices can not go on.

Anyone got any ideas how we can stop this madness? Later this week: the ridiculous cost of kosher chicken.

(RJR)