Thanks to the wonders of the Internet — not to mention the United Parcel Service and a generous helping of dry ice — having kosher meat and poultry delivered directly to your home is now just a mouse click away.
Michael Freedberg, the 26-year-old co-founder of a new service called www.glattondemand.com said that he initially started shipping kosher meat and chicken as a favor to friends and relatives who lived in locales where kosher products were either difficult to find or sold at higher prices than in cities like New York or Baltimore.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of places like this across the country," said Freedberg, who lives in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.
Freedberg said he realized that dozens of communities in the United States exist where observant Jews either had limited access to kosher food, had to pay high prices due to a lack of competition, or had to make weekly drives out of town to stock up on kosher meat and poultry.
So after doing some thinking, Freedberg decided to turn his penchant for buying and shipping meat into a full-fledged business — albeit one that sets aside a portion of its profits for Jewish-oriented charities.
How does it work?
First of all, Freedberg and his business partner Ayal Bar-am are not in the kosher slaughtering business. Whether it's an angus-beef brisket or a chicken breast, all products come from MealMart, a facility in Queens, N.Y., where slaughtering takes place under kosher supervision. Products out of MealMart come with at least one well-known certification, including the Orthodox Union and the K'hal Adath Jeshurun.
"Unfortunately, to get these labels on your products, it's expensive. They won't just give you these symbols for nothing," said Freedberg, explaining why kosher meat costs more than non-kosher meat.
Next, the meat and poultry gets moved to Glatt on Demand's 2,500-square-foot freezer in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
But how does it get from there to places like Kansas City, Mo.; Florence, S.C.; or Richmond, Va.?
That's where ground service comes in.
Freedberg said that other Internet kosher-delivery companies exist, but what makes his service, Glatt on Demand, different is that rather than fly to destinations — and charge accordingly for the service — the company actually ships its wares via UPS ground transportation and guarantees arrival within four days.
Meat. In four days? Won't it spoil?
According to Freedberg, the products are kept fresh in a container made of an unspecified material. Freedberg said that he did not want to divulge his company's secret. The container is packed with roughly 10 pounds of dry ice, which keeps the temperature in the container at well below freezing.
Freedberg charges a standard $29.99 for shipping. Containers can hold up to 60 pounds of meat and poultry, so he has suggested to his regular customers that it makes financial sense for them to place orders roughly once a month and to order in relatively large quantities.
So far, he reported, no orders have come from Philadelphia.
"Last month, we had about 20 or 30 orders. We are building up a client list," he explained. "We don't have much of an advertising budget."
Freedberg said that his primary goal is to make kosher food available to people and places that don't have ready access, and thus make it easier for observant Jews to live outside major metropolitan areas or established communities. He said that in the future, he hopes to carry additional brands and products processed in other facilities.
The term "glatt kosher" refers to an added stringency of certifying kosher meat that relates specifically to the lungs of a four-footed animal.
While glatt-kosher chicken is sometimes advertised, it's essentially a misnomer, since the term "glatt" refers only to the lungs of larger animals, said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division.
In the past three decades, it has become far more common for supermarkets to carry glatt-kosher beef, which is inherently more expensive than non-glatt beef, added Elefant.
Freedberg said that he chose to deliver only glatt-kosher beef because it has become the most widely accepted type of red meat within the Orthodox community.
In the end, it's really all about ease. "This goes straight to your door," stated Freedberg. "If you have five kids, if you don't have time to go to the market, this is a major convenience."