Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hechsher Tzeddek: Taking the Ethics of Food Seriously

Partly as a result of the numerous scandals over "kosher" slaughterhouse Agriprocessors (see my previous blog entries about this topic here and here), the Conservative movement is poised to institute a Hechsher Tzeddek - or "ethical kashrut" - certification program.

This is good news.

According to a proposal now before the movement's bi-annual conference, the certificate is to be given to food produced in a manner that meets certain environmental and labor standards, including worker safety and fair wages. The resolution is expected to pass easily.

The proposed certificate will appear alongside already existing kosher certification rather than replace it, say members of the Hekhsher Tzedek Committee.

Nigel Savage, executive director of Hazon, a nonprofit dedicated to Jewish environmentalism and social justice issues involving food, applauded the hekhsher tzedek initiative, which he said is a beautiful example of taking existing Jewish law to a higher level.

“In our generation, a growing number of Jews keep kosher and care about ethics, about treating workers fairly, about respecting the land,” he said.

The hekhsher tzedek will consider issues of workers’ rights and safety, and issues of animal welfare, including how animals are raised and slaughtered. Organic food issues are not yet part of the effort.

So, while not prefect, its a good start.

For the full story from the JTA click here.

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