Liz Schwartz

Liz Schwartz is a free-lance writer and researcher from Portland, Ore. When she's not growing her own food, volunteering as a mentor for a low-income gardener, attending county Food Policy Council meetings, helping plan and organize events for Portland Tuv Ha'Aretz, hosting a radio show (The Yiddish Hour, on KBOO 90.7 fm), cooking, eating, reading, biking, blogging or sleeping, she's probably working as the program annotator for the Oregon Symphony. Or not.

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Chasing the Carrot: Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour

Last Sunday, July 25, 15 people gathered at Oregon’s Museum of Science and Industry for Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour. Portland is laid out in grids, like Washington, D.C. Last year’s tour covered NE Portland; this year we set off to explore neighborhoods in SE.

Our ride leader, Tuv member Beth Hamon, is an old-school bike geek. Last year she created spoke cards for our ride (when you do something for the first time, it’s an innovation; twice is minhag) So of course she made a new one for this year’s ride. Here’s a picture:

Watch Food, Inc. for free on PBS

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If you haven’t had a chance to see Food, Inc., carpe diem! PBS recently aired it on POV, television’s oldest showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV has also put the entire film on their site for free viewing for a limited time. It’s only up until April 28, so check it out today!

Maimonides meets Christ: Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz visits St. Andrew Lutheran Church

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On April 18, my co-steering committee member Sylvia Frankel and I were invited to speak to the congregation of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon, a nearby city most famous for being the home of Nike. It was an opportunity to address the congregation for one of a series of learning and study sessions; this one was called Food and Spirituality from a Jewish Perspective.

About 25 people attended, including Lead Pastor Mark Brocker and Associate Pastor Robyn Hartwig, and members of the St. Andrew Green Team, a group of congregants who work on sustainability issues within the St. Andrew community.

Interfaith Hillel Sandwich

If Peeps were made with kosher marshmallows, could this become an acceptable alternative to the traditional Hillel sandwich? You decide! Chag sameach.

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Foraging locally for Pesach

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Here in Portland we’re fortunate to have a year-round farmer’s market, and I’m always on the lookout for interesting, tasty, off-the-beaten-path things to make for Pesach. I love serving fresh asparagus at my seder, but it’s not in season yet, so I was looking for an alternative. Our local mushroom purveyor, Springwater Farm, offers a great variety of mushrooms, but they also sell other wild/foragable foods, including fiddlehead ferns and bags of stinging nettles. Here’s a link to some fiddlehead fern recipes.

The fiddleheads can be served in lieu of asparagus; just blanch them in boiling water and saute in garlic with a little salt.

Chag Sameach

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We took this last year, looking out through our front window on our front yard under two feet of snow. For all you folks who get snow regularly in winter, this was an epic storm for Portlanders, the most snow we had in the city in 40 years. This year there’s no snow on the first night of Chanukah, but it’s plenty cold. Wherever you are, whatever weather you’ve got, chag sameach!

Great Idea: Parsnip Carrot Latkes

Here’s a colorful seasonal alternative to traditional potato latkes:

Take your favorite latke recipe and substitute an equal amount of shredded parsnips and carrots for the potatoes (if you want them to be even more colorful, you can also add shredded zucchini, if you don’t mind that zucchini isn’t seasonal this time of year for most of us). The result is a lighter, more flavorful latke, and the parsnips and carrots make for a sweeter, more complex flavor than traditional potato latkes. Not to mention you can pretend you’re eating healthier because you’re eating veggie latkes instead of all those carbs (just forget about the whole fried in oil part). Chag sameach!

Sukkot Drash Tishrei 21 5770/Oct. 9, 2009

Author’s note: The following is a drash I gave at my shul two days ago. My shul, Havurah Shalom in Portland, Oregon, is a participatory congregation.

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We are in the final days of Sukkot, one of Judaism’s three harvest festivals, and one of my favorite times of year. The traditional observance of Sukkot: building a booth, decorating it with greens and seasonal fruits and veggies, eating and sleeping under its roof through which we must be able to see the stars, all highlight and make holy things we do every day: living in our homes, eating meals together, even sleeping. Perhaps this is why I look forward to Sukkot so much, or perhaps that it often coincides with my birthday (I’m still young enough to enjoy rather than dread it), or perhaps simply that it happens during the autumn, my favorite season of the year.

Judaism is particularly connected to food, and Sukkot especially to the bounty of our fall harvest. Now is the time for the first apples of the season, in all their amazing varieties, for winter squashes, for root vegetables, and for the last of summer’s abundance: the tomatoes, the zucchini, the pesto made from homemade basil. It is a time to celebrate the simple pleasure of growing and cooking and eating.

Michelle Obama opens White House Farmer’s Market

Personally, I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year. Check this out:

L’shana tovah.

Tikkun olam/Pikuach nefesh on Shabbat

Yeah, I know, as Jews we’re supposed to rest from our weekday labors on Shabbat. Jews who observe Shabbat more traditionally than I do tend to refrain from social action on Shabbat, including the practice of tikkun olam, repairing the world. However, there is a ruling in Talmudic law (isn’t there always?) that allows us to sidestep Shabbat prohibitions against typical activities, called pikuach nefesh, saving a life (soul). Here’s a more complete explanation of the concept.

So why am I violating Shabbat by posting on The Jew and the Carrot today?

There was a hot time in the old town last night


Last night I went to hear Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms in Virginia, speak at a benefit for the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, one of my favorite farmer’s markets here in Portland. Salatin is featured in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and more recently in the film Food, Inc. (BTW, if you haven’t seen the film, go, this minute, and take everyone you know, even if you have to drag them kicking and screaming).

Salatin is a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-farmer,” which gives you some idea of his philosophies and approaches to, well, just about everything. His talk was about food safety, specifically how governmental approaches to it are not only not making our food safer, but are also marginalizing and criminalizing small farmers who raise animals on a non-industrial scale.
I didn’t go to Salatin’s lecture expecting to learn anything new; I’ve read several of his books, including Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, and I also know a bit about this subject from other sources and from my work in the food sustainability world. I went to experience Salatin himself. And he was definitely worth the price of admission.

Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz Bike Garden Tour

Portland Tuv Ha'Aretz bike spoke card

Late last month, Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz hosted its first Jewish Garden bike tour, focusing on gardens in NE Portland. 25 riders, ranging in age from pre-teen to, well, older than pre-teen, met at a local park. The ride was both conceived and led by Tuv Ha’Aretz member Beth Hamon, with help from Joel Metz. Beth is a bike mechanic and co-owner of Citybikes, a co-operatively owned bike shop here. She’s also a serious old-school bike geek and thought our first bike tour should be commemorated in true bike geek fashion, so she made spoke cards for all the participants (everyone thought they were cool, and you can check ours out at the top of this post; extra points if you can figure out what the Hebrew says)

Is the Food Movement Elitist and if so, Does it Matter?

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My interest in food and my work within the food movement began, as passions do, at the personal level. I love eating and cooking and growing food, and I wanted to learn more about what went into the food I ate. Simple as that.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve done a lot of self-educating, in the form of reading, research and writing about food. I’ve also shared what I’ve learned with friends and family, who, to my pleasant surprise, seem interested in the topic, even if not to the total-immersion-extent that I am. The universality of this issue is clear, since we all need to eat.