Archive for the 'Most Controversial Posts' Category

Getting Off The Bottle

This week, as Earth Day came and went and I attended a fair here or an Earth celebration there, it also donned on me that Spring is here!

So, beyond my environmental excursions, I also attended of variety of events held on my very own Columbia University. Yet, what I found was an inability to fully appreciate some of the events due to the ubiquity of plastic water bottles. Some may laugh, but I find myself becoming more and more annoyed with these obnoxious bottles that I suddenly see everywhere. As I have previously written about bottled water, my awakening began when seeing the movie “Blue Gold: World Water War’s” on instant play on Netflix. Then, I really became irked when seeing “The Story of Bottled Water,” which I posted on this blog.

The Debate: Eating Meat (or not) at the Hazon Food Conference

The Jew and The Carrot, Hazon’s blog about Jews, food and contemporary life.  The blog has a diverse and inclusive community, where we welcome readers and volunteer writers from across the Jewish denominational spectrum, and from all walks of culinary life.  Our aim is to ensure that The Jew and The Carrot community is a platform for vibrant discussion for anyone interested in food issues.

Late on Friday we received the following letter from Pete Cohon, founder and moderator of VeggieJews, an international, real-world and online, Jewish, vegetarian organization.  He has been a vegan and animal rights activist for 22 years and a vegetarian for 27 years.  A former San Francisco trial lawyer, Pete now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Below his letter is the response from Hazon.  We encourage a vibrant debate, but please ask commentators to refrain from personal attacks on any views.  We reserve the right to remove  any comments that violate our Community Guidelines.

chicken at the hackney city farm

An open letter to Nigel Savage, Executive Director of Hazon, and the groups members:

The Hazon group claims that it works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, fight climate change and promote a more sustainable world for all.  I understand that the group even hosts vegetarian meals at which it promotes its programs.

That sounds great.  But I’m concerned that Hazon is not living up to the promise.

A Closer Look Into the Struggle of the Agriprocessors Workers

Thanks so much to Morgan Currier for her guest post. Morgan is a high school Senior from Los Angeles, California. She has been an active member of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization for four years and as President of her Los Angeles region, she helps promote social justice to the teens in her community. Next year, she plans on studying social welfare at the University of Washington in Seattle.

When the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) wanted to get their thousands of Jewish teens to take a stand against Agriprocessors, much of the public was displeased to say the least. When the organization made a public announcement that they planned on boycotting the company, negative comments flew. Many believed it wasn’t their place to get involved or that they didn’t have their facts straight. So they sent me, one of their passionate and interested members, to get the real story.

Does Compost Count as Chametz?

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Yosh and I got a worm composter for our wedding – it’s true, we are just that dorky!  For the last week or so (yes, we got married in November, but the composter arrived in mid-February, and I finally got around to getting the worms last week), I’ve been the proud mom of a brood of about 1,000 wriggling, very hungry worms.

They live in the Worm Factory, pictured above (p.s. definitely not our kitchen), and  I couldn’t be more excited.  Yosh on the other hand, is a bit more squeamish about the whole thing, though I can’t blame him.  He suffered through a bit of worm trauma when his last roommate neglected to properly feed worms, and the bin quickly self destructed.

But aside from the nachas I feel over the little munchies - which was a definitely surprise – I was certainly not counting on our compost bin bringing up halachic (Jewish law) questions.  Then Passover entered the horizon.

Kosher Butchers in Long Island Ask: What Is Kosher?

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The JTA reported yesterday about a pair of kosher butcher brothers in Long Island who are causing a peculiar controversy: by petitioning the state of New York to stop enforcing its kosher laws.

The brothers’ shop, Commack Deli and Market, adheres to a Conservative definition of kashrut, which holds that some foods (like frozen vegetables) are inherently kosher, and therefore do not need kosher certification. But according to the JTA: “Under New York law, only products labeled as kosher can be sold as kosher. The store’s kosher supervisor – a Conservative Rabbi named William Berman – submitted an affidavit with a different point of view: “the state is infringing upon the religious freedom of the non-Orthodox denomination/sects of Judaism by compelling [them] to adhere to the law requiring labels on all kosher food products.”

On the one hand, I sympathize with the Yarmeisch brothers. I consider myself Orthodox, and I do purchase some foods without heksherim, beer, certain rice products (rice wine, vinegar in some cases), and frozen veggies. But I feel a bit like a hidden Jew – “If anyone finds out!”

Shechting a goat at the Hazon Food Conference?

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On the Friday night of last year’s Hazon Food Conference I said, “put your hands up if you eat meat – but would not do so if you had to kill it yourself.” And a good number of hands went up.

Then I said: “put your hands up if you’re vegetarian – but you would eat meat if you killed it yourself.” And a different group of hands went up. And after a brief pause, everyone laughed.

They laughed because the two responses revealed what a self-selected group we were – and how fascinating our different distinctions. The first group were essentially saying, “I do like eating meat – but I know the process of killing it is awful – it’s actually so awful that if I had to kill it myself, I just wouldn’t eat meat.”

The second group were essentially saying “I’m vegetarian because I hate everything about how animals are raised and killed in our industrial food economy. But if I actually took responsibility for killing an animal myself, I would feel I was acting with integrity, and in accordance with my beliefs – and therefore, in that instance, I potentially would eat meat.”

And my response, when the laughter died down, was to say “Great: next year we’re going to shecht (slaughter according to kosher law) an animal here at the Food Conference..”

And people went: “Oooohhhhhh..”

They’re Kashering My Kitchen

I was not raised kosher, in fact I wasn’t even raised Jewish. I grew up eating everything. I chose to become a Jew out of love, and I have never stopped loving this people that I chose. But sometimes they drive me crazy.

I love food, and I love to cook. I could not, cannot, and will not limit myself to those food groups permissible in Leviticus. As a friend of mine says, “Halacha is not my thing.”

My kitchen is clean and organized, like my mother’s. I have attachments to many implements and cooking utensils, e.g. my grandmother’s spatula, my father’s cherry cutting board, the patina on a vintage 8-inch cast iron frying pan. I could go on.