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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.

Mazal tov to the Joshua Venture Fellows!

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The recent Joshua Venture Dual Investment Program Applications for 2010 were a wonderful example of Hazon’s impact in the Jewish community. Two of the newly appointed Fellows are directors of the two organizations in which Hazon is a fiscal sponsor:  Nati Passow of the Jewish Farm School and Zelig Golden of Wilderness Torah. A third Fellow is our friend, Eli Winkelman, the founder of Challah for Hunger, which Hazon helped grow when it was part of our food program in 2008-2009.

Watch Live Tonight: LA Hunger Seder 2010

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Bobbi Rubinstein is a publicist, journalist and green activist.  She’s chair of the Valley Beth Shalom Green Team and co-founder of Netiya: The Los Angeles Jewish Coalition on Food and Environmental Justice Issues

Tonight at 7pm Pacific Time, Angelenos will ask a fifth question:  Why on this night are millions of people going hungry?

With 1 in every 8 Angelenos experiencing food insecurity and 1 in 10 Angelenos using a food bank in 2009, Los Angeles is now known as the “hunger capital” of the United States.

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.

Hazon Invited to White House for Let’s Move Initiative

White House

Hazon has been invited to join a group of Faith-based and Community organizations to support Michelle Obama’s recently launched Let’s Move campaign. The meeting in DC tomorrow will provide organizations with tools and information to help combat childhood obesity in their communities. Judith Belasco, Director of Food Programs, is headed to the Capitol to represent Hazon!

According to Judith, “Hazon is always looking to expand our support of healthier lifestyles as meaningfully as we can. Already North America’s largest faith-based supporter of CSA‘s, we provide healthy living education through our Jewish Food Education Network (JFEN) and annual Food Conference. We look forward to engaging the Jewish community and beyond in support of Let’s Move.”

According to Joshua DuBois, White House Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Parnerships, The Let’s Move campaign will combat the epidemic of childhood obesity through a comprehensive approach that builds on effective strategies, and mobilizes public and private sector resources. Let’s Move will engage every sector impacting the health of children to achieve this national goal, and will provide schools, families and communities simple tools to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy.

vote before shabbat for Slow Money to rank as one of the top 10 best ideas for change

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Those of you who came to the Food Conference may have gotten to hear from Woody Tasch, the founder of Slow Money.

The idea is a simple one: invest your money as if food, farms and fertility actually mattered. Get anyone who invests money (and if you have a 401k or an IRA, that’s you too) to direct just 1% of it toward small food enterprises and local food systems. Get at least that small sum of money out of the hands of Wall Street, huge banks and multinationals and use it, quite literally, as seed money. Invest in local farms, food systems, artisans, brewers, bakers, cheesemakers and so on and keep that money close to home.

How does our garden grow?

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Thanks to Bobbi Rubinstein for sharing this update about the garden at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. Bobbi is a publicist, journalist and green activist. She’s chair of the Valley Beth Shalom Green Team and co-founder of Netiya: The Los Angeles Jewish Coalition on Food and Environmental Justice Issues.

I am excited to share some news with the Hazon kehillah. My shul, Valley Beth Shalom, has broken ground on an urban garden called the Gan Tzedek Initiative. We’re growing food to donate to local food pantries and creating educational opportunities around Torah and environmental study. And perhaps most importantly, we’re building community across all age levels since this is a team effort among all the schools, teachers, parents, administrative staff and clergy.

Combating Food Deserts in Louisville, Kentucky

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Thanks to Rachael Don for this guest post! Rachael is a Registered Dietitian in training and co-editor of the Jess Schwartz Jewish Community Day School’s Hazon CSA newsletter in Scottsdale, AZ.  A former healthcare administrator, she holds an MBA and a Masters in Health Services Administration. When she’s not cooking organic vegetables, Rachael is caring for her three young sons and husband, David in Phoenix, AZ. She shares these thoughts with the readers of that newsletter and all of you!

Nigel Savage on DIY Food Values

Be sure to check out this article written by Nigel Savage, Hazon’s founder and executive director, published in Sh’ma this month. The piece is a good summary of the lay of the land of the Jewish Food Movement and is sure to give folks some “food for thought.”

Who Brings Forth Bread From the Earth

I baked bread for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was a life-changing moment. Not just because it was some of the best bread I had ever tasted, but because it also made me think seriously about what bread means. In an age when we have all kinds of grain products at our disposal (rice, noodles, couscous), many a meal can pass without bread. And yet bread is one of the most basic foods.

In Judaism, a meal is often defined as one in which you eat bread. There are many brachot (blessings), each one for specific food, but if you recite the motzi, the blessing for bread, it covers the entire meal. This brings up some interesting questions, such as whether pizza counts as bread (thus requiring motzi and birkat mazon, the Grace After Meals.) Bread is life-sustaining, and deeply embedded in our culture. It links us to our times of celebration. On Passover, it is through bread–matzah, the bread of affliction–that we invite the poor to partake of our freedom. On Shabbat, bread is a reminder of God’s gift of manna, which fed the Jewish people in the dessert, and on Rosh Hashanah, we eat round, sweet bread. Challah itself solves an interesting Jewish dilemma: it is an enriched bread, meant to be celebratory, and most enriched breads (like brioche) are made with milk. Since Shabbat meals often include meat, Jews needed to create a parve loaf.

The Jewish Food Movement: Goals for the Next 7 Years

Jewish Food Movement?

Over the past few years, a growing number of Jewish foodies, farmers, rabbis, chefs, teachers, students, families and many others have brought meaning to those words, asking why and how one can eat in a way that is both deeply Jewish and deeply sustainable.

It is time to ask a new question: where will this movement be in 7 years? Last Rosh Hashanah ended the last shmita (sabbatical year) cycle, and we’ve begun the countdown to the end of the next shmita cycle in September 2015.  Using the shmita cycle, with its wisdom about our relationship to the land as a guide, what should be the goals of the Jewish food movement? How do you envision that the Jewish community (in the United States, Israel, the entire world) will look and act differently in its relationship to food by September, 2015?

Federation of Jewish Farmers

Federation of Jewish Farmers

A friend just sent me the link to this picture. The caption reads: New York. October 13, 1909. The Federation of Jewish Farmers of America exhibit at the Educational Alliance building, East Broadway and Jefferson Street. 8×10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.

Anyone know anything about the Federation of Jewish Farmers, that was apparently active enough in 1909 to host an exhibit???

Leaving Adamah, Finding Home

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As my time at Adamah (the Jewish farming fellowship) fellow came to a close, I felt like our season as farmers also came full circle.  For me personally, the experience on the farm also marked my transformation from an Artistic Administrator for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (a fancy-clothes wearing, stress filled employee) to a pickler, meditator, Carhartt-wearing farmer and much more chill person as well.

At the beginning of Adamah in September, when the weather was still warm (though it’s hard to remember back that far!), we went to our field, the Sadeh, on a Monday morning to take part in the shechting (kosher slaughter) of nine of our male goats. It was an incredibly challenging day, to say the least – and even more surreal because just one day before we’d hosted “Feast in the Field,” a beautiful brunch complete with fancy food from the Sadeh and celebration, all in the same location. That said, the shechting took place with intention and with respect, not unlike the experience I had almost one year earlier at the Hazon Food Conference, where we shechted three goats.

Jewish Farmers Roll Into Town

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Last week, Adamah dropped off our first-ever Tuv Ha’Aretz share to Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York. It felt somewhat historic (bashert? destined?) to finally bring together the young Jewish farmers at Adamah with Hazon’s Jewish Community-Supported Agriculture program. One of the highlights of the day was driving down to the city in Adamah’s new truck, which runs on used vegetable oil and is emblazoned with the icon above and the beautiful words, “Young Jewish Farmers: Changing the World One Pickle at a Time.”

We’re looking for sources of used vegetable oil to power the truck! If you have connections to restaurants who could donate used grease in Westchester, Duchess or Putnam Counties, please be in touch! Check out more photos of the truck, below.