Chomping into a corned beef sandwich or your mother’s brisket these days can sometimes feel like a reckless gamble, the more we hear about nitrates, nitrites, mystery filler and the evils of factory cattle farms. But you don’t have to risk it all for meaty pleasures anymore.
KOL Foods of Silver Spring, MD, sells kosher artisanal sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, kishka and even pickled tongue in which no threat of disease or unethical compromise lurks, from a meat eater’s perspective at least. The meat comes from animals that are 100 percent grass-fed and pastured on family-owned, sustainable farms without antibiotics or added hormones or chemicals.
The company also sells roasted beef liver, lamb bacon, beef bacon and stock from lamb, beef, duck, chicken and turkey. All its prepared foods are listed on the “Bubbe’s Kitchen” page of the Kol Foods website.
“I’ve got it all,” says Devora Kimelman-Block, who founded the company in 2008 to sell kosher meat that was ethically and healthfully raised and slaughtered.
KOL Foods’ cattle come from only organic ranches and farms. A formidable triumvirate of inspectors, namely the USDA, a rabbi and a ritual slaughterer, ensure that the animal is without disease and killed humanely and according to the laws of kashrut.
Kimelman-Block began offering deli in 2011 because “people were asking for it. Deli meat has a bad reputation of having a lot of chemicals, nitrates. A big reason why people come to me is for health reasons.”
The indefatigable mother of four kept a vegetarian kitchen for 15 years even though she loves meat because she could not in good conscience support the industrial, factory-operated production of most kosher meat available.
But she had had enough of just vegetables on her kitchen table.
Healthy meat tastes better, says Kimelman-Block, who ran a community-based agriculture co-op for two years out of her DC synagogue in addition to working in educational technology before she decided it was time to produce kosher meat that conforms to modern ethical standards as well as ancient law. The company’s values also include fair labor practices for its workers and farmers.
KOL Foods has grown in five years to selling a smorgasbord of meat and fish products to customers nationwide via FedEx or through buying clubs and even to a few in Canada who are willing to cross the border to pick up their meat orders.
The company also provides meat to caterers for weddings, b’nai mitzvah parties and other events, and they are starting to sell to summer camps and other wholesale customers.
Kimelman-Block estimates that the prices for her kosher meat products are between 20 and 30 percent higher than similar pasture-fed, organic and sustainable products. Nevertheless, the demand for kosher meat is growing.
KOL Foods kishka—made of beef schmaltz, matzah meal, flour, water, onion, carrot and spices—is excellent for making cholent and for tossing into the pot with a roast. Its beef bacon tastes delicious wrapped over chicken or dates or fried up for breakfast with eggs.
KOL Foods shoppers can also purchase Bratwurst, smoked Kielbasa, and hand-sliced roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, shaved steak and merguez, a spicy sausage popular in Israel that is often grilled and eaten with couscous, in sandwiches or on skewers.
You can even have a pickled tongue flown to your house (or your grandfather’s) in a vacuumed sealed package. KOL Foods recommends boiling it to 202 degrees, pealing the skin, slicing it and serving it cold or hot. Either way, it’s guilt-free.