Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.

Sustainable Kosher

Posted: November 25, 2009 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

For Shabbat dinner a few nights ago I went to a program at 92Y Tribeca, a local Jewish cultural center, to eat professionally prepared local foods and learn a bit about the local, sustainable foods movement and how it relates to Jews today. Two speakers were on the program, Zachary Adam Cohen who runs the Farm to Table blog, and Nancy Lipsey, who works for one of my favorite food organizations, Hazon.

It goes without saying on a site like this, but eating healthy, fresh, seasonal foods is something I care deeply about, and the more local and sustainable food is, the better! You can really taste a difference in quality, and knowing that you’re supporting a local farmer or business is a gratifying feeling. Have I mentioned how much I love farmers markets?

I wouldn’t call the menu for the evening local, though, despite the fact that a local chef prepared it: salmon in beurre blanc, salad with pine nuts, crisp green beans, couscous, cauliflower and parsnips with carrots. Dessert was strawberries and grapes (neither in season!) and homemade rugulah from the chef’s bakery in Staten Island. OMG – yum! Will find out later the name and location of said bakery.

Once most of the room had finished munching on their cauliflower, Zach and Nancy addressed the audience, Zach spoke about his blog, the kinds of topics he covers and why. Later, Nancy spoke about what Hazon is and does and their contributions to the Jewish food movement, which is basically the current trend in sustainable, seasonal food but with a Jewish bent. Unfortunately, while both were charismatic and spoke well, neither got to cover much of what they were billed to talk about, both going off onto tangents, like genetically modified foods (GMOs) and Whole Foods and how they’ve been raising the “local/organic” profile to mainstream consumers.

Just about the only relevant topic mentioned – briefly, was “What does kosher mean,” literally. “Pure?” came a suggestion from the audience, but the true answer is “fit,” as in, “Is this fit for me to eat?” Hazon is one of the leading organizations advocating the eco-Jewish movement currently on the rise across the United States, and they’re asking questions such as “If the first ingredient in this food is high fructose corn syrup, is it fit for me to eat?” and “If this cow has been slaughtered by a 16 year old illegal immigrant earning less than minimum wage, is it fit for me to eat?”

That last question and others like it are being raised by other groups trying to change the definition of “kosher” to include ethical eating practices relating to the conditions of the workers preparing kosher foods, so that not just that the meat is fit to be consumed on a physical level, but on a morally sound one as well.

So, a lot to chew on, so to speak. But it was frustrating for these topics to be touched upon only briefly and I would have liked to hear more.

I’ll definitely update soon with that rugulah info though.

2 Comments on “Sustainable Kosher”

  1. 1 Zachary Adam cohen said at 3:03 am on November 25, 2009:

    Great review. Agree that we def went on some tangents but that’s why I stayed on for the next hour or so to answer questions individually. If ud like to chat soon I am happy to make myself available.

  2. 2 Julia Segal said at 10:46 am on November 25, 2009:

    Sounds like a delicious evening! It might take about 5 more to do justice to a handful of these topics… this actually happens at the Hazon Food Conference. There will be programming on conscious hiring and consuming in light of kashrut, workers rights, fair trade, and a whole bunch more including do-it-yourself food, health & nutrition, sustainable food systems, tradition & history.
    This year’s is coming up in a month in California. See http://www.hazon.org/foodconference and jcarrot.org.

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Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.