On an unseasonably warm, November morning, four female college students and their academic advisor boarded the subway to Hunt’s Point in the South Bronx. On this particular morning, we prepared for a day of experiential learning as part of our Fellowship in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship that is run by the Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition to interning in a field of social justice, fellows attend twice monthly sessions run by already-established entrepreneurs in the social justice field. As part of this fellowship, I interned on the Food Programs team at Hazon, but I wouldn’t begin to realize the effects of the work I was doing until the end of this influential field trip.
Across the country, Jewish environmental and farming programs are (pun intended) taking root in the Jewish community. Whether they are semester long fellowships (like Adamah and Urban Adamah), programs at summer camps (like Eden Village, Kibbutz Yarokand Amir Project, to name just a few), the number and variety of these programs is increasing.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Leslie about her newest cookbook, “Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook” and the benefits of a gluten-free diet, and the importance of eating sustainably for both the mind and body.
Growing up, I remember assembling shalach manot baskets with my mom as part of our synagogue’s Sisterhood tradition. After months of baking, and then freezing, thousands of hamentaschen, we would spend the week leading up to Purim assembling shalach manot packages for families in the synagogue. The shalach manot packages were always the same: two or three brittle, dry hamentaschen, some all-too-salty trail mix, super processed chips or pretzels, and a bottle of grape juice all packaged in a little box that wished people a happy Purim. Though the gestures of these were certainly nice, I have always felt that these mass-produced shalach manot were neither healthy, nor sustainable.
Through my study of anthropology, I have found one area particularly compelling: the relation of food and culture. For instance, the well-known anthropologist Sidney Mintz has devoted his research to find the cultural implications of certain foods, specifically the link between the taste of sweetness and the power divisions it inspires. Mintz argues, “The foods of different peoples, shaped by habitat and by our history, would become a vivid marker of difference, symbols both of belonging and of being excluded.” For me, my interest in food and culture began as an innocent observation of a particular phenomenon: the attraction of Jewish college students to any event that promised free meat. I witnessed friends flock to any event that offered kosher meat, and even celebrate the opportunity to eat meat on Shabbat. And although I first noticed this in college, in fact this phenomenon is deeply ingrained in every Jewish community to which I’ve belonged. My curiosity peaked. I wondered, what was the cultural connection between Jews and meat?
In the Northeast, as winter creeps upon us and the weather seems to only get colder and brisker, one food seems to continually pop into my appetite: soup. As a self-proclaimed soup aficionado, I frequently find myself preparing new soup recipes, testing them out at Shabbat meals. Since my lentil soup proved a pre-fast hit on Yom Kippur, I’ve been searching for the perfect winter soup to serve to my Shabbat meal guests. Perhaps most strikingly, chicken soup will be absent from my winter soup repertoire. I inherited my mother’s excellent knack for making chicken soup, always adding the most important ingredient of love, but this skill is all for naught since I began eating vegetarian this past summer. Sure, I can make vegetarian chicken soup, but I’d rather take advantage of the wonderful, seasonal offerings to make a winter soup.
Sabrina Malach is an inspiring leader of the New Jewish Food Movement in her native Toronto. She is currently the Director of Outreach and Development at Shoresh, a grassroots organization that aims to build a more ecologically sustainable Toronto Jewish community. Having received inspiration from her experiences as an Adamah Fellow and her work at Hazon, Sabrina has channeled her passion and knowledge into new food projects in the Toronto Jewish community. Most recently, she is one of the coordinators of the Shoresh Food Conference coming up this February.
Hanukkah can be one of the messiest Jewish holidays; waste is generated from wrapping paper, gelt wrappers, and wax drippings. To top it off, all the frying in oil can be both unhealthy and unsustainable. But this year, it doesn’t have to be. JCarrot and Hazon offer sustainable, healthy Hanukkah resources to green your holiday, so you can spend more time enjoying, and less time worrying about your global impact. From eco-friendly candles to sustainable gifts, the following suggestions can help to enrich any Hanukkah celebration. Also, these sustainable resources can be used as activities that can make for a great addition to any Hanukkah party. This year, opt for sustainability when celebrating Hanukkah by incorporating all, or even a few, of the following suggestions.
As a Jewish college student living in New York City, I am frequently challenged to make eating and living sustainably work on a very tight budget. I’ve found that there are some ways I can spend less money and skimp, and there are certain areas where splurging is definitely worth the extra cost. I try to follow some key guidelines — listed below — when buying both food and household products. Whether you’re a college student, or just want to save a few extra bucks, these tips are useful in integrating sustainably minded changes into your daily routine.