Planning a Sustainable Jewish Food Conference
I re-joined the Hazon staff at the beginning of the summer, after a three-year stint at ADAMAH. Since then, one of my major projects has been pulling together the East Coast Hazon Food Conference (our California staff is simultaneously working on the Hazon Food Conference – West Coast).
At Hazon, people often ask about what goes into planning a food conference, particularly one that represents the New Jewish Food Movement. Our conferences are the center of the conversation about Jews, food, and contemporary life, and they must show those values, as well as talk about them. We can’t just teach, we must also do. There are a lot of questions that we ask ourselves while planning the conferences. Here are some examples of how we begin to them.
How can we provide food that is sustainable and delicious in a conference setting?
The East Coast conference will feature local foods grown on site at the ADAMAH farm, as well as sustainably produced meat, cheese and coffee. In California, where much of the food served will be sourced from local farmers markets, participants will learn how to make chocolate babka, sauerkraut, and fermented dairy products, no doubt nibbling along the way. It is important to us to serve “good food,” and to teach people how to make it at home. By “good food” we mean: food that is delicious, consciously prepared, and local/organic as much as possible. Meal times are celebrations of the food that nourishes us all.
What kinds of programming should the conference highlight?
It takes a dedicated crew of volunteers, using their experience and expertise, to craft sessions on topics that they know they’d like to attend, and are pretty sure you would too. Some of the questions they’ve been asking translate directly into sessions at the conferences:
Why is it so hard to get kosher sustainable meat anywhere outside the Northeast (not that it’s all that easy in the Northeast, either).
What is going on with the Farm Bill – we had barely heard about the last one before it was passed, how can we be ready when it next comes up for re-authorization?
How do I start a garden at my synagogue or JCC?
Who should speak at the conference?
It takes presenters with colorful stories to tell and wisdom to share. As our line-ups begin to take shape, we’re excited to be featuring the following presenters:
Gil Marks, author of “Olive Trees and Honey” and most recently, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” will teach about how Jewish migrations over the centuries have affected (and been affected by) local cheese traditions. (East Coast conference)
Elisheva Rogosa, founder of the Northeast Organic Wheat project, will teach about ancient wheat varieties, including Einkorn wheat grown in Ancient Israel, and its potential for environmental and health benefits today. (East Coast conference)
Sue Fishkoff, author of “Kosher Nation: Why more and more of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority,” will share her research on a century of growth of the Kosher industry in America. (West Coast conference)
Becca Bodenstein, director of a new Jewish teaching garden at the New Community Jewish High School in Los Angeles, will share here experiences (West Coast conference)
If any of these sounds like something you’d enjoy, we hope you’ll join us! It’s an honor and privilege to work at Hazon, where so many different people and ideas come together – I hope you’ll come to one of our Food Conferences and see the exciting possibilities for yourself. For more information about both conferences, and to register, please visit: www.hazon.org/foodconference.
Anna Hanau is the Associate Director of Food Programs at Hazon, and co-authored “Food for Thought, Hazon’s Sourcebook on Jews, Food and Contemporary Life.” She and her husband Naf Hanau founded a kosher pastured meat business called Grow and Behold Foods in summer 2010, and she keeps a flock of chickens in her backyard in Brooklyn.