Helen Jupiter

Helen Jupiter is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is a Channel Editor for Jewcy, and she regularly contributes to Gridskipper and Metroblogging Los Angeles. She publishes interviews at SuicideGirls, and her work has been featured on 400 Words. She keeps her own blog, Earth to Jupiter, which focuses on "armchair do-gooding." She is currently at work on a collection of short stories and a novel.

Helen Jupiter's Website »

8 Hanukkah Gift, Party & Tzedakah Ideas You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

latke345.jpg

While I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that Hanukkah is here again (time really flew since last year’s latke fry), I do have an assortment of gift, party, and tzedakah ideas in mind for this year’s Festival of Lights.  Here are eight suggestions—one for each night.

Honey, Darling? Agave, Honey: Vegan Alternatives for a Sweet Rosh HaShanah

honeydarlingagavehoney.jpgThe various ethical, environmental, and cultural issues surrounding honey have been considered and discussed here on The Jew and the Carrot, both in posts and comments.  Leah has explored whether honey is “kosher” for vegans, and wondered if there’s “any ethics-based diet that *doesn’t* have a little bit of hypocrisy clouding up its ideals.”  Michael Croland from HeebnVegan explained that the issue does little to promote veganism, and pointed us in the direction of this Satya Mag article on the subject.  Meanwhile, Rabbi Shmuel has suggested that we should critically re-examine the Rosh HaShanah custom of dipping apples in honey, and explore alternatives such as maple syrup, while Rabbi Debbie Prinz joined the conversation with a lip smacking guest post on how we can integrate chocolate into our Rosh HaShanah celebrations.

Rather than continue the debate on whether honey is vegan, eco-kashrut, or even just kosher (Leah notes that she has always “puzzled over how eating a food created by a decidedly non-kosher creature could be considered okay for the Tribe”), I’m offering a number of delicious, vegan, kosher, and organic ideas and recipes for a sweet new year.

Honest Tea on Honesty: Q&A with Seth Goldman, TeaEO

seth.jpgSocial entrepreneur Seth Goldman is the man behind Honest Tea, the nation’s best-selling and fastest-growing organic bottled tea company. Founded in 1998 with his former Business Professor Barry Nalebuff of the Yale School of Management, Honest Tea sources from organic and fair trade tea estates, makes careful choices about packaging and shipping, and has partnered with and supported community development groups from the Crow Reservation in Montana to organizations in South Africa and Guatemala.

Dedicated to the relationship between business and social and environmental change, Goldman writes about how “you can be committed to social responsibility and still build one of the fastest growing private companies in America” on his blog at Inc.com. With the recent announcement of a deal that gives Coca Cola a 40% stake in Honest Tea, many dedicated drinkers have expressed concerns that the company will be corrupted by the mega-corporation. Goldman is confident that Honest Tea will stay honest. He explains why below.

Canola and Grapeseed and Olive, Oh My: How to Fry This Hanukkah

latkes.jpgWith Hanukkah nearly upon us, it’s time to start prepping our latke recipes. The oil that we fry them in is more than just a nod to the Festival of Lights: It’s an essential ingredient as well, so it’s important to choose wisely. Different oils vary in flavor, nutritional value, and smoke points, and do you even know what Canola is? I’ve gone ahead and done some of the preliminary legwork to help you choose the right oil for your frying pan.

On the list you’ll find ideal oils for latke frying under the “Freedom Fry” heading, and oils to avoid on the “No Fry” list. Keep in mind that just because an oil appears on the “No Fry” list doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy – for example, Flaxseed oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and can help lower cholesterol, but heat can destroy its omega 3 properties. Canola, on the other hand, has a higher smoke point, but those who wish to avoid GMOs and bioengineered products might want to stay away, as 80% of acres sown to canola are planted with genetically modified seed.

When doing your shopping, remember this: Many oils come from plants that are sprayed with fat-soluble pesticides. Those pesticides concentrate in the oil portion of the plant, so always buy organic when you can.

One last tip: Remember to change your oil out after every couple of batches. The longer an oil is heated, the more free fatty acids form, which lowers the smoke point and increases your chances of burning. Whatever oil you choose, I wish you a happy Hanukkah filled with luscious latkes and lots of love.

Earth Mother: Q&A with Emily Freed of Jacobs Farm

emily-freedjcarrot.jpg Local or organic? Farmer’s Market or Supermarket? And what about the GMOs? There’s a lot of talk — and a lot of confusion — these days, about our food. Around the world, people are starting to grapple with the negative impact that large scale, industrial Agribusiness has had over the past half century. As its legacy of soil erosion, polluted groundwater, and chemically-laden fruits and vegetables becomes clear, more and more people are choosing to support organic and local farmers. Emily Freed is one of those farmers. As the Assistant Field Production Manager of Jacobs Farm in Northern California, she’s responsible for over 250-acres of organic farmland. She’s also a Jewish activist who was recently named as one of the Heeb 100 in the category of Food. Despite it being her busy season (she was in the midst of moving about 6,000 lbs of herbs out of the farms each day when we caught up with her), she found the time to discuss the organic movement, the future of food, the connection between agriculture and the environment, and how it’s all related to Judaism.

Shechitah vs. PETA

kosher-cow.jpg

(Cross-posted on Pickled)

I stumbled upon an article today that concerned itself with what it called “Shechitah vs. PETA”–in other words, the conflict that exists between animal-rights advocates and proponents of kosher slaughter. It reminded me of why I’m both proud of and dissatisfied with the laws of kashrut that apply to animals. On one hand, I’m inspired by the intended consciousness and compassion that went into our dietary laws–rules that seek to minimize the pain and suffering of animals raised and killed for food. On the other hand, though, I’m all too aware of the fact that these laws fall short, and are in dire need of reassessment. Back in February, Sarah Rose pointed our attention to a Reuters article on hechshered fur. Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, ruled that Jews must not wear fur skinned from live animals. “All Jews are obliged to prevent the horrible phenomenon of cruelty to animals and be a ‘light onto nations’ by refusing to use products that originate from acts which cause such suffering,” was the official decree. This is the kind of thing that makes me proud, and it’s what I’d like to see more of in regards to the collective Jewish attitude toward animals raised for meat.