Archive for the 'Personal Story' Category

My Afternoon with a Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Lunatic Farmer

When I was very little, my dream job was to be a farmer. The small family farms in rural Pennsylvania where I grew up romanticized the idea of farming.  We didn’t have enough land to have anything but a small vegetable garden, but I dreamed about someday having chickens, cows and maybe even a horse. But farming never became a reality except for my window-box herbs and my predilection for playing Farmville.

So last week, Ana Joanes, director of Fresh offered me the opportunity to hear Joel Salatin give a lecture.  Being a big fan of Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Inc, and of course Fresh, this Jew was beyond thrilled to be able to spend Easter Sunday listening to this rockstar sustainable farmer explain how we can afford local artisanal food and how we could really feed the world with it.  Fascinating discussion.  His passion and dedication to the subject is undeniable.  I can’t wait to buy his book Everything I want to do is Illegal.

I got the chance to chat with Joel right before his talk.  Although the food movement is anything but new to him, I asked him what changes he has seen in the last several years.


New Podcast – RideCast Special

Happy Rider

Check out this new special Ride Edition Podcast! If you haven’t heard, Hazon is allocating funds raised from the Bay Area Ride a bit differently than past rides. It’s pretty exciting and really putting the power in the hands (or cycles) of Ride participants, who will get to decide where to allocate the funds they raise.
Also, if you didn’t hear about last year’s NY Ride engagement story, Marc tells us what he was thinking the day he proposed on the Ride.

Check it all out by clicking here! What’s a farmer to do with all of those beautiful Meyer Lemons?

emily's lemon pudding
Out here in Northern California during the winter months, Meyer Lemons are dripping off the trees like perfect golden globes.  You can recognize a Meyer Lemon tree from far away because their coloring is such a strong and deep shade of yellow and the smell of their blossoms is pungent and plentiful.  Currently, my house is overflowing with bowls of Meyer Lemons from various friend’s trees and I can’t bear to let these delicies go to waste so I am always looking for new Meyer Lemon recipes.

Volunteering is as easy as pie

philly 1

Thanks to Danielle Selber for sharing her thoughts about her experiences volunteering with Birthright Israel NEXT’s Harvest to Harvest campaign!

I love to cook. If you’re looking for me, you can usually find me in the kitchen, stirring away at homemade tomato sauce or a big pot of soup, adding ingredients that don’t quite match just for the thrill of it. I often serve Shabbat dinner for twenty, and I really like chopping all those onions. I bake cookies for my Hebrew school students regularly (to the chagrin of their parents), and my boss has nicknamed me “Kugels Lebowski” for my uncanny ability to make a festive kugel for any random occasion. For my last birthday, I received six cookbooks.

ten plagues

Thanks to Rabbi Eliav Bock, Director of Ramah Outdoor Adventure (Ramah Outdoors) for sharing these thoughts related to Passover, his community in Colorado and the work of the Jewish Food Movement. Read on for his Ten Plagues Facing Our Modern Way of Eating and Relating to Food and the complimentary Dayenu that you can adapt for your own seders…

It is the month of Nissan and spring is in the air. If I was living on a farm here in Colorado, I would be plowing the fields, spreading manure, and getting ready to plant our first spring vegetables. Sadly I do not live in such close proximity with the land. Instead, I live in a house in Metro Denver and would not be able to fit a tractor through the door that leads to my back yard.

No, this time of year is a time when many of us living urban lives do not even stop and appreciate the effort that farmers throughout the country and throughout the northern hemisphere are making to ensure that we in America have delicious food to eat. (In a future post, I will write about the farmer with whom we are contracting to bring fresh local food to camp. She did spend last week preparing her fields. But more on that in a week or two. . . .)

My White House Reflections


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.

One NJG Farmer

Meet Rachel Tali Kaplan, a young Jewish woman who is farming organically on 2 acres in Georgia. Warm, funny and intelligent, Rachel explores the challenges of farming, her passion for feeding people, and the importance of sustainable agriculture in today’s world. Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson shared this short film with us:

You’re A What? from Anthony-Masterson on Vimeo.

Make Cheese Not War


Avi Rubel is the North American Director of Masa Israel Journey, the umbrella organization for immersion programs in Israel for young adults (18-30). When not sending people to Israel, Avi can be found making cheese, bread, kombucha or fermenting or pickling all kinds of goodies in his Brooklyn apartment and recording his adventures on his food blog, Make Cheese Not War. In the weeks after the Hazon Food Conference, he shared some of his thoughts about his experience with Hazon in California.

Click below to read his posts:

New Hazon Podcast with Jewish Greening Fellowship Director

Director, Jewish Greening Fellowship

Director, Jewish Greening Fellowship

Check out the newest installment of the Hazon Podcast by clicking the link below. Please forward to your friends and let me know any thoughts you have on it.

Also, NEW is that now you can SUBSCRIBE to HAZON Podcasts straight on iTunes. Just Search “Hazon” in your iTunes Store and SUBSCRIBE to our podcast. It is absolutely FREE!

New Podcast Episode with Jewish Greening Fellowship Director

Highlights of this episode:

  • What is the Jewish Greening Fellowship?
  • Sign up for Bay Area and NY Rides

Resolutions for a Healthier and more Sustainable Community from the Hazon CSA in Elkins Park


The Hazon CSA community in Elkins Park (Philadelpha, PA) hosted another outstanding Tu Bishvat seder this year. (Click here to see photos from their seder last year.) Their organizers shared this list of individual commitments that folks wrote down for the year, to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, a healthier and more sustainable world for all. May they serve as an inspiration for all of us in the coming season!

Leave your own resolutions in the comments.

  • Go outside more
  • Take shorter showers

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.”

Yid.Dish: Seitan Feijoada (yup, it’s Kosher and Vegan)

seitan fejioada

My boyfriend is Brazilian.  To look at him you’d probably think he was Middle Eastern, with his dark complexion.  He speaks with an American accent that is very South Florida, but none-the-less he was born in Brazil.

Last week for no particular reason I wanted to surprise him with a Brazilian inspired meal. However, most Brazilian cuisine involves meat or fish – two things my boyfriend is loath to eat.  (We do occasionally eat humanly raised grass-fed local sustainable meat, but he finds seafood appalling.)   Feijoada, considered the national dish of Brazil consists of black beans slow cooked with various parts of the pig.  Since my boyfriend loves meatless rice and beans, so I decided to get creative.

On the Internet I researched various feijoada recipes, which mostly relied on lots of salt and pork and very little other flavoring unless you count the beef bits.  But how could I keep things kosher and compete with recipes that look like a butcher shop in a pot?  There were a lot of vegetarian black bean recipes online, but this needed to be more than just rice and beans, I needed to make this complex and interesting to call it feijoada.  So I explored the Internet for some more tastes of Brazil.

A Vegan’s Response to ‘Do You Keep Kosher?’

I never give a one-word response if someone asks whether I keep kosher. After saying “yes,” I usually add qualifiers, such as “I’m vegan, so I keep kosher by default.” Although I do keep kosher in my own way, the extent of my kashrut might not meet the expectations of the person asking the question. I grew up eating meatball pizza, shrimp cocktail, and pork fried rice, so keeping kosher was never a claim I could make early in life. In recent years as I’ve seriously explored the connections between Judaism and veganism, it has been a claim I like to make.

As I’ve noted before, being vegetarian makes it easier to keep kosher:

You don’t have to worry about whether you’re eating meat that’s certified kosher (and whether that certification meets Jewish ideals) if you’re not eating meat. You don’t have to worry about mixing meat and dairy products if you’re avoiding one or both of those categories altogether. As one vegetarian rabbi explained in a 2005 Jewish Ledger article, “We have one set of dishes (plus Passover dishes) and never have to worry about the status of leftovers in the fridge or whether a guest will mix the utensils or food items. … By not eating meat, I am much more certain to never violate, even accidentally, the Biblical and rabbinic prohibitions concerning non-kosher meat.”

Confessions of a College Health Nut

About a month ago I received an assignment for my business writing course. We had to compose a letter as an angry parent and PTA member, protesting a hypothetical high school’s deal with a well-known soda manufacturer. The deal would require that the school stock only this brand’s soda and snack products in its vending machines (we assume no healthy alternatives), in return for sponsorship from this manufacturer. My letter went:

To Mr. Anonymous Soda-Junkie:

As a member of the PTA and a concerned parent, I urge you to vote against the contract that would install (brand name here) vending machines in our schools. With teenage obesity reaching epidemic levels, we must do all we can to discourage the consumption of the unhealthy, calorie-rich foods sold by such machines.