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Judith Belasco

Judith Belasco is Hazon's Associate Director of Food Programs. Judith recently graduated with a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Public Health from Columbia University and holds a Bachelors degree in Urban Studies from Vassar College. She has food-related experience as Program Coordinator of Linking Food & the Environment (LiFE) where she designed, conducted, and evaluated an after-school cooking program in East Harlem for grades 3 through 6. She’s also coordinated a school food conference, served as research assistant for Anne Lappe, author of “Grub: Eating in an Urban Organic Kitchen,” and received awards in nutrition education.

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Exciting Transition for The Jew and the Carrot

Dear Readers,

The Jew & The Carrot is going through a really exciting transition and we wanted to let you know about it. On September 1, Hazon and the Forward will partner on The Jew & The Carrot in order to strengthen the depth and expand the breadth of the blog as THE site for Jews, food, contemporary life and the Jewish Food Movement.  The Jew and the Carrot will migrate to the Forward’s website and will join its team of blogs, which are read by tens of thousands of readers each month.

My White House Reflections

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Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and Food Initiative Coordinator, wore a green tie – it was appropriate since the meeting was on St. Patrick’s Day. Twenty-eight community and faith-based organizations (CFBO) from around the country, including Hazon represented by yours truly, had gathered for a one-day meeting to discuss First Lady Michelle Obama’s ambitious initiative, Let’s Move, to combat childhood obesity in one generation. Kass and Jocelyn Frye, the First Lady’s Policy Director started the day by talking about the meaningful role that faith-based organizations play in their communities. The White House is seeking a comprehensive strategy to tackle the dual problem of hunger and obesity and they see faith-based organizations as uniquely positioned to do this work by allowing children to connect body, mind and spirit. Kass spoke of the need for simple ways for people to transform their lives and to then become leaders for others to make healthy changes, too.

Nutrition in the Garden

From the gardens at Kayam at Pearlstone

In our post–Omnivore’s Dilemma society, stating that I’m a registered dietitian (RD) sometimes raises eyebrows. Yes, I studied how individual nutrients, not whole foods, work in our bodies. It was Michael Pollan’s “nutritionism” at its best and I actually found it fascinating – citric acid cycle, mitochondria, anyone?

That said, a holistic approach to our food, our bodies and our land is where my heart lies. A recent JTA article beautifully covered the connections many young Jews are creating to the land, and the burgeoning number of Jewish farm-based education initiatives.

I was pleased upon arriving home yesterday to find that the feature article within the latest Journal of the American Dietetic Association is Impact on Garden-Based Youth Nutrition Programs. The study reviewed eleven previous studies of in-school, after-school and community garden-based nutrition-education programs conducted from 1990 – 2007. The study concluded that “garden-based nutrition intervention programs may have the potential to promote increased fruit and vegetable intake among youth and increased willingness to taste fruits and vegetables among younger children.” This seems logical: the more youth are involved in their food production, the more they are likely to enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. Those working at the Edible School Yard, The National Farm-to-School Program or at The National Gardening Association probably could have said this year’s ago.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Shabbat

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Long before “green Shabbat” referred to stacking biodegradable dishes on the synagogue kiddush table, “Corned beef and Cabbage” became my family’s green Shabbat.

When 6th grade ended and my best friend, Shauna Ritchie, returned to Ireland with her family, I was devastated. The summer passed and middle school started. Life continued, but not without the distinct sense that something important was missing.

Mid-March arrived, and with Purim over and Pesach still in the future, my mother decided she needed an occasion in the interim to bring our family together. In honor of Shauna, my mom declared the arrival of “Corned Beef and Cabbage” Shabbat – a celebration which, not-coincidentally, coincided with the week of St. Patrick’s Day.

Does meat need to be hung up after it’s slaughtered?

While deciding whether or not to schect (slaughter) a goat at the Hazon Food Conference has created controversy, the question of how to schect a goat for quality meat also seems to be a cause for debate.

Yesterday Nigel wrote on The Jew & The Carrot: “The first thing we found out (and this surprised me): meat has to be hung up for a few days before you can eat it.”

Later that day, a blogger at The Failed Messiah countered with:

“Meat does not need to be “hung up” for a few days before you can eat it. Think back to the Temple, Nigel, and the sacrifices offered there…Nowhere in [The Torah] is a command to “hang up” the meat for a few days before consumption. In fact, quite the opposite is true.”

I think there was a bit of cross-conversation confusion – it seems that Failed Messiah was referring to halacha (and he’s right, there is no specific law about “hanging up” meat after an animal is slaughtered), whereas Nigel was talking about hanging up meat for taste and health reasons.  Regardless, Failed Messiah’s counter post inspired me to look deeper into the logistics of schechting from my perspective as a registered dietitian who now works for Hazon.