Sustainable food educator, kosher meat purveyor.
Anna Hanau is probably the only new mom in Brownstone Brooklyn who lists “tractor operation” and “on-farm slaughter” as skills on her resume.
A native of Vancouver and a graduate of the dual-degree program at Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hanau came to agriculture in her mid-20s as an Adamah Fellow at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in Falls Village, Conn. While she had already been interested in Judaism and the environment, and had worked for several years at the Jewish nonprofit Hazon, it was on the Adamah farm that “I really got to pull together Jewish expressions of awe and gratitude at the natural world with this physical farming work.”
She also met her husband, Naftali Hanau, there. The newlyweds originally planned to start an organic farm, but changed their minds when they realized it would be too hard to combine farming with their Jewish observance.
“How many farmers do you know that make enough money to send their kids to Jewish day school?” she asks. “How were we going to be part of a Shabbat-observant Jewish community while living in the middle of nowhere?”
Instead, they decided to start Grow and Behold, a purveyor of environmentally sustainable, humanely raised kosher meat. Starting with pasture-raised poultry in 2010, they now also sell beef and lamb.
While the two, who live in Prospect Heights, don’t raise the animals themselves, they have strict specifications for the farmers and slaughterhouses with whom they contract concerning animal welfare, environmental practices and treatment of employees. They currently sell their meat to thousands of individual customers, various institutions (including Eden Village Camp in Putnam County) and restaurants such as Brooklyn’s Pardes and the Upper West Side’s Amsterdam Burger Company.
In addition to serving as Grow and Behold’s communications director (Naftali is the CEO), Hanau works full time at Hazon, as associate director of programs.
Mommy track: This spring the Hanaus added another responsibility, on top of the business, job and a backyard with 12 chickens (raised for eggs, not meat): parenting their newborn son Joseph.