In December, Sarah Gross attended a workshop called “Bringing a Great Idea to Scale” at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. When prompted to write down a few things she cared about most, Gross wrote “chocolate” and “helping animals.” She recalls, “The next morning as I walked my own rescued pitbull, Mocha, after a breakfast of chocolate (of course), my inspiration hit. ‘Rescue Chocolate,’ I muttered to myself over and over; the ideas were flying in and my fingers began to freeze as I wrote away on my iPhone. Mocha wondered why I wasn’t throwing the ball so well this morning. Anyway, the company took off from there!”
Rescue Chocolate donates 100 percent of its net profits to animal rescue groups, and all its packaging educates chocolate lovers about various issues related to the companion animal overpopulation crisis. All of its products are vegan and kosher/pareve. The company sells (or will sell) chocolate under such catchy names as Bow Wow Bon Bons, Peanut Butter Pit Bull, Pick Me! Pepper, The Fix, Foster-riffic Peppermint, Forever Mocha, and even “Don’t Passover Me” Bark.
My boyfriend is really into good podcasts and came home the other night insisting that I watch this. And he was right, Dan Barber gives a charming and very insightful talk about sustainable fishing. Check it out:
The month Nisan begins tonight and with it, so many associations. Last year, I wrote about the practice of refraining from eating Matzah from Rosh Hodesh Nisan (i.e. tonight) until Passover. Most people make, if any, the association of dreaded Pesach cleaning and preparation. I’ll be writing some about that in a few days or next week, God willing, but for now, let’s stick to things connected specifically to Rosh Hodesh Nisan.
One association fewer people make is that Birkat haIlanot, the blessing over blooming trees, is typically said in the month of Nisan:
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.
Many people are using Passover as a chance to think about hunger and food security.
Just this week activists gathered in Jerusalem to protest the government’s failure to provide thousands of children who live below the poverty line with hot school lunches or ensuring ‘food security’ for all its citizens. Click here to read the whole story.
In Los Angeles, many of Hazon’s friends are involved with a Hunger Seder on March 24th. The community seder will take place at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino.
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.
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!
Thanks so much to Emunah Hauser for this heads up. Emunah is a host at Saul’s Restaurant and Deli, which has been organizing the Referendum on the Deli Menu, which will be held on Tuesday in Berkeley, CA. Check out Saul’s blog Sustainability Adventures of a 100+ seat Diner.
Can the Jewish Deli be sustainable? Can a retro cuisine be part of the avant- garde?
Local, organic VS. the externalized costs of cheap, industrial food and . . . collective memory and food traditions?
Deli is at a crossroads. In New York, only a handful delis remain from hundreds. Across the country, beloved Delis continue to disappear. Popular expectations of “real” Deli conflict with today’s economic realities. And these expectations conflict with environmental sustainability.
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.”
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My dear friends The Wandering Jew and David Levy over at Jewschool, sick with envy that they couldn’t attend the Hazon Food Conference this year, produced this tongue-in-cheek video to vicariously participate nonetheless. Please enjoy their playful snark as we consider how the hell this product fits into the eco-kashrut movement.
Thanks so much to Lailah Robertson for this great guest post about her experience and the Hazon Food Conference. Lailah is a San Francisco freelance writer who writes the blog In My Box about her CSA box and all the delicious vegetarian, gluten-free things she makes with it. This post is NOT intended to endorse any particular diet or agenda, e.g. to say that being vegan (abstaining from all animal products) is the only way to live, or that vegetarians are hypocrites. It merely hopes to be an exploration of one of the least considered aspects of our food chain.
Nigel Savage, founder of Hazon, asked us two questions during his keynote speech last night at the Hazon Food Conference. It felt like the beginning of one of those Jewish parables, the ones where the wise rabbi asks or tells us something that means more than it seems on the surface, where you ponder on the teaching and the world opens up in a new way.
“Stand up if you eat meat, but you wouldn’t if you had to kill it yourself,” Nigel called out. A number of people in the packed hall rose from their seats. I applauded them for their self-awareness and honesty, while of course maintaining a certain degree of vegetarian smugness.
Then he asked us another question. “Stand up if you are vegetarian, but would eat meat if you killed it yourself.” This time fewer people stood up, but it was still a significant number.
Adamahniks helping with the sweet potato harvest at Chubby Bunny Farm in Falls Village, CT. Photo by Julia Gazdag.
As we put the fields to bed here at Adamah, we’re looking ahead to next season. We have several staff positions we are seeking to fill. If you’re looking for farm work that feeds the soil and the soul, Adamah is the place for you!
Field Manager: This is an ideal position for someone with 1-2 years farm experience looking for a manager position in an educational environment. The Field Manager will manage vegetable production on the 5-acre Adamah farm, which grows for a 50-share CSA, for the dining hall at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT, and for our value-added products business (pickles, sauerkraut and jam). For complete job description and info on how to apply contact Anna Hanau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much to Jay Weinstein, for his great guest post. Jay is a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America, is a New York based food writer, editor, culinary instructor, and cookbook author. His food articles and recipes have been featured in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Newsday, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, and numerous other publications. His latest book, The Ethical Gourmet, focuses on ecologically sustainable fine foods. He teaches culinary arts at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.
Straight out of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in 1988, I went to work for Jasper White, the Boston chef who would become my mentor. I still remember how he told me that Atlantic salmon were commercially extinct. We were beginning to use a new salmon raised in a Canadian aquaculture operation that was a cross-breed of farmed Norwegian salmon, and wild Atlantic salmon. “Better half wild than not wild at all,” he quipped.
Since that time, the New England rivers that provided genetic stock for that ‘80s hybrid have suffered the excesses of the salmon farming industry, and the American public has been exposed to the pollution, pesticides, artificial colorants, and epidemics that salmon aquaculture has brought to our shores. We’ve lamented the megaton hauls of wild “feeder” fish dumped into the insatiable maw of the big salmon business, which built salmon into the most consumed fish in America.
While most consumers seem content to keep on buying factory-farmed salmon because it’s cheap, reliably fresh, and inoffensively mild in taste, some eco-savvy Americans who are concerned about the decline of ocean fish, river biodiversity, and humane treatment of animals rail against fish farming as an environmental disaster. Mention farmed fish to them, and they’ll say that wild is the only choice for fish-eaters with a conscience. Fish farming, after all, has done such damage. But there’s a problem with their argument too.