It’s a Jewish food blog, so, nu, here’s a little good old-fashioned Borscht belt humor:
Q: What are the two things Jews know?
A: Suffering, and where to find good Chinese food.
Okay, so maybe “good” shouldn’t be used to modify Borscht belt humor. I’ve known that joke for 20 years, and who knows how old it was when I first heard it. It must be further past the expiry date than that container of organic non-fat sour cream you’ve got pushed way back in the corner of your fridge.
So here’s an always-fresh corollary:
Q: What are the two things Jewish women love?
A: Eating and giving advice.
Thus is born a new The Jew & The Carrot feature, “The Shmethicist” – a moral nosh on ethical eating. Readers are hereby invited to send in your ethical food quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because why should Randy Cohen have all the fun?
Since you didn’t know I existed until just now, I’ve taken the shmethically questionable route of making up our first reader query, just so I had something to answer.
Several months ago, I managed to convince my eight year-old that we should avoid eating any chocolate that isn’t fairly traded. But with Halloween coming up fast, I’m in a tizzy. Do I deny my child the pleasure of trick-or-treating? I don’t want to imply that ethics can be cast aside when they become inconvenient. Nor do I want to enforce the boycott and risk having my kid resent fair trade politics — and her activist parent.
Halloween has long been a challenge for many Jewish families, in some cases because of Kashrut, in other cases because of concerns over the holiday’s pagan roots, and in yet other cases because those store-bought masks never accommodate the finer shnozzes among our tribe. So why should this year be any different?
You’ve already taken care to ensure your child understands the importance of ethical food choices. Seize the opportunity to make Halloween a treat, rather than a trick, by extending that lesson. How? Lots of ways!
• You can contact your neighbors in advance, sharing information about the reasons to choose only fairly trade chocolate and asking them if they would be willing to join you in making fair trade purchases for their Halloween goodies. You can do this on your own, or include your child as you make the rounds — presenting the ethical eight year-old should help you manipulate the adults more easily.
• You’ve missed this year’s deadline for ordering reverse trick-or-treating kits, but next year, organize your child’s class to participate together, spreading the word — and some yummy samples — among even more kids, parents, and neighbors. The kits include FREE fair trade chocolate samples. FREE CHOCOLATE!!! Surely that’s one way to put a Jewish spin on a pagan festival. Find out more.
• Suggest your child incorporate fair trade right into her Halloween costume. If dressing as a fair trade chocolate bar seems a little too close to one of those disturbing branded Wonder Bread or Big Mac costumes, get creative. What better way to make people take notice than for your eight year-old to dress as an enslaved child laborer on a cocoa plantation? Sure, it’s tasteless and terrifying, but so is Hannah Montana, and you know that costume will be plenty popular this year.
Got a burning ethical food question, or just want advice on what to make for dinner? Send your questions to email@example.com.