Elk meat is about to become available to kosher consumers.
Noah’s Ark Processors in South Dakota, which sells kosher meat under the Solomon’s Finest Glatt Kosher label, is expecting to slaughter its first elk for the commercial market on Monday. It will be shipped to supermarkets including Fairway and ShopRite the week of July 14, according to owner Ilan Parente.
Those stores have been carrying the company’s kosher buffalo for the past 10 years, he said.
Parente said Noah’s Ark has been raising elk for 11 years and exploring the idea of processing its meat for the kosher market for at least six.
“It took that long for the rabbis to say yes, it’s kosher,” he said.
Elk is a member of the cervidae family, which includes deer.
Rabbi Seth Mandel, who oversees Orthodox Union-certified kosher meat processing in North America and South America, says this is the first commercial production of kosher elk meat.
Although he says elk is “good meat, not as tough as deer,” Mandel expects elk to be a specialty product like buffalo that will “take a while” to penetrate the kosher market.
“We don’t look at it as exotic,” he said. “These animals have been here before the cow was introduced to North America. They’re native to this country.”
In addition, Parente points out that elk is “70 to 80 percent leaner than beef, it’s tastier and a lot healthier.”