Despite our best intentions to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable, healthy food and the critical role of cooking it at home, we know that the majority of unhealthy calories and the largest increase in food consumption over the past 50 years has occurred with food purchased outside of the home, according to the Keystone Forum on Away from Home Foods. One might wonder: why are Jewish food establishments not working to create more healthy and sustainable menus?
This past Sunday, as I marched with nearly 1,000 others, passing by 5-star hotels, bewildered tourists and students, I felt proud to be holding the new “Boston Jews for Fair Food” banner. A group of interfaith individuals, we were marching in support of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers and the “penny per pound” campaign. The campaign, which Whole Foods, Taco Bell and even McDonalds have already signed on to, promises one more cent paid per pound of tomatoes collected by workers in the Immokalee section of Florida, one of the largest tomato growing regions in the country (workers currently receive 50 cents for every 32 pounds they pick.) More specifically, we were protesting the Massachusetts-based Ahold company, which owns Stop and Shop grocery stores, and has refused to sign on to the agreement.
Spring may be on our minds, but the access to fresh, locally grown edible plants that it brings will be limited for most of the country over the next several months, as winter’s long finger stretch into March.
As we kindle the Hanukkah lights, eat greasy foods, and exchange presents with loved ones during this season, it is sometimes easy to forget about how powerless the Jews must have felt prior to their victory in the Hanukkah story – regardless of which version of the story you believe. In our present day Jewish discussions of food issues, rarely do we consider power as the primary lens by which to judge the food system. Yet, many of the most persistent and pervasive challenges to a sustainable, healthy and equitable food system exist because of the consolidation of power.