conversation with naftali hanau
Naftali Hanau, along with his wife Anna, founded Grow and Behold Foods – which produces kosher, pasture-raised meat adhering to the strictest standards of kashrut, animal welfare, worker treatment, and sustainable agriculture.
Why did you start Grow and Behold?
Although we had originally thought about starting a CSA farm, we're pleased that we can feed so many more people this way. In our first six months of selling kosher pastured poultry, we have fed far more people than we would have fed in our first season on a farm.
Growing food and feeding people is really something that I enjoy so much. When I did the Adamah program, I fell in love with growing food - growing our own food, being outdoors, being in the soil, and seeing how plants can grow if you just shepherd them along. With Grow and Behold, I really love that we're creating food that’s fueling people. It's at people’s Shabbat meals, feeding people who are working hard, feeding growing kids. For some of the kids whose parents buy our chicken, this is the only meat they’ve ever eaten. And that’s really cool.
What has been Grow and Behold’s effect?
I don’t like when people say, “Oh, you're trying to change the world.” I don’t have any illusions that a kosher, sustainably-raised meat business is going to single-handedly change the world. But we've already changed the way that a small number of people eat. The goal is not to change the world – but to be part of the conversation that is changing the world. There’s still a lot of room there to shift the conversation, at least where the Jewish community is.
What are some of your standards for meat production?
We are absolutely unwilling to compromise our standards for quality and our standards in terms of ethics of production. It takes 18 months roughly to get a beef to slaughter. It takes time - these are not things worth rushing, and when it's ready, it will have been worth the wait.
How do you survive in the competitive meat industry?
There's a lot of room for growth, we hope. We've been around for six months. If in five years we're still selling the same amount of chicken, then we're not going to be around.
It's an interesting question: How many people are willing to pay a premium? Are there ever going to be so many people who are willing to pay the $6/lb for chicken? You can buy chicken for $2/lb., and when they have specials at your local kosher supermarket, family packs of chicken legs can be $1 or $1.50/lb. But at least in my mind, you don’t want to eat that kind of chicken. If they can sell it that cheaply there’s, something wrong, corners are being cut - and we're not going to cut corners for our prices.
Non-kosher pastured chicken sells at a farmers market for anywhere from $3.50 to $5/lb. So for our chickens to be selling for $5.50 - $7 - that's not quite twice the price, which is pretty good for kosher meat.
And it tastes better. It tastes better when you do it right.
To purchase poultry from Grow and Behold, go to www.growandbehold.com. They deliver in the NY and Philadelphia area and ship nation-wide.