One of the winners of the New York Ride mini grant from Hazon last year was Temple Beth Shalom in Mahopac, New York, a Conservative synagogue situated “where the country begins,” according to their local tourism slogan. The synagogue is led by Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, a 2010 Jewish Theological Seminary graduate and long-time friend of Hazon, from time of the organization’s founding. Rabbi Hammerman moved to Putnam County several years ago from White Plains, New York where he was the synagogue’s Rabbinic Intern. A highlight of his time in White Plains was his participation in the Tuv Haaretz CSA program which operates out of Temple Israel Center. He enjoyed the fresh fruits and vegetables that Tuv Haaretz provided each week. Upon moving to Putnam County (by bicycle, one Sunday morning – that’s another story), he surprised by the lack of CSAs or farmers markets “in the country.” He felt that the area was prime for a farmer’s market and wanted his synagogue to host the market. Coincidentally, a local landscaping business had the idea at the same time. After their first trial year, the synagogue and other business, together, opened the Mahopac Farmers Market, located each Sunday in the parking lot of the synagogue, at a central location in town.
Traditional Jewish dishes like kugels and kasha can get tired. But with the help of a farmers’ market, these classic foods can be downright redemptive.
Farmers market booths and food trucks don’t usually come to mind when one thinks of glatt kosher food. But that’s exactly how Michele Grant of The Kosher Palate is bringing organic, locally and sustainably sourced delights to Los Angeles’ kosher community.
This summer I was fortunate enough to live between 15th and 16th street on Union Square West. While most cab drivers will insist that this address does not exist, any fresh produce-loving New Yorker will absolutely rave over such an ideal location. Why? Because, four days a week, this address is home to the world famous Union Square Greenmarket. Dating back to 1976 when it began with only a few farmers, it has since grown exponentially to now holding 140 regional farmers, fisherman, and bakers in peak season. Loyal customers return every week to enjoy fresh and locally made products from just-picked fruits and vegetables, to heritage meats and award-winning farmstead cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, and much more.
I usually avoid a fight in which you’re bound to lose (because it is really hard to change a person’s opinion with your own opinion). However, I do get riled up when people make uneducated claims about farmers’ markets, and CSAs. I’ve heard plenty in my three years as a CSA host. Then a few weeks ago, I was a guest at a luncheon in which people disparaged the prices at our local farmers’ market, including the statement, “The prices at my daughter’s farmers’ market are cheaper.”
With the opening of this season’s farmers markets, I find myself withdrawing more cash from my ATM — and more cash each week. The vendors do not accept checks or credit cards, so we patrons have to plan ahead or pay nasty surcharges when we run out of money during the middle of a market run and need replenishment from a nearby ATM (although a shout-out to WaWa by my beloved Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market at 2nd and Pine in Philadelphia for not charging extra for cash withdrawals from non-bank members). The consolation is that I spend less at Whole Foods and the other large food chains on my regular shopping rounds.
One sure sign of spring in my Brooklyn neighborhood is the first sighting of the Mr. Softee truck. A hundred years ago, Jewish residents of the Lower East Side knew it was spring by the appearance of sorrel, or schav in Yiddish, on the neighborhood pushcarts. While the pushcarts are gone, nowadays you can find sorrel at city greenmarkets.
Animal science expert Temple Grandin suggests some steps that kosher slaughterhouses could take to improve animal welfare on the op-ed page of the Forward.
Three years ago, the idea of a farmers’ market was completely alien to Israel. Certainly, most Israelis understand the idea of buying produce in an open-air stall, Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda turns 100 this year and Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel is only ten years younger. But buying in the shuk instead of the supermarket is no guarantee that the wares are locally grown or of high quality, and those who operate the stalls in the shuk are still middlemen — not the farmers themselves.
Visitors to San Francisco today would find it hard to believe that there were once three kosher restaurants, four Jewish bakeries, five kosher meat markets, and three Jewish delicatessens in the city. In fact, they were all within a two square-block area known as the Fillmore, once referred to as the Lower East Side of San Francisco.