As a people who started out as an agricultural nation, Jews have been thinking about kashrut – what is “fit” to eat – for nearly 3,000 years. And a growing number of people today realize that our food choices have significant ramifications – for ourselves, our families, and the world around us. The “new Jewish food movement” brings us back to our agricultural roots and calendar cycle. Even though we no longer live on and from the land of our ancient forebears, Diaspora Jewish communities engage in agrarian traditions. This year, the movement is gearing up for the 5775 shmita, a once-in-seven-years biblical commandment to give the land a break. It’s difficult to throw a carrot these days and not hit an inspiring program or discussion on Jews and food. Dive in.
Small state, global Jewish environmental impact
By Cindy Mindell
Connecticut will soon be home to one of the largest Jewish environmental and food networks in the world.
In December 2012, the boards of Hazon and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center announced an anticipated merger of the two Jewish non-profits that play a leading role in the new Jewish food movement and the Jewish environmental movement.
In a joint statement, board chairs Richard Dale of Hazon and Mark Russo of Isabella Freedman said, “We’re proud of the accomplishments of each of our organizations, and we hope and intend that the merger will enable the combined entity to grow more strongly, to expand and enrich its programming, and to have a more significant human and communal impact, than either could by itself.” David Weisberg, currently the executive director of Isabella Freedman, is CEO of the new organization. The chair of the new organization is Richard Shuster, Isabella Freedman board member.
“The two organizations are like friends who’ve known each other a long time and one day realize they should get married,” says Weisberg. “We already know each other and have shared values. Now that our engagement is public, we’re excited to start to weave a new enlarged Hazon that honors our history and the people who brought us here, while envisioning and creating a dynamic and exciting future.”
The merger will provide a physical base to Hazon, a national and international organization that connects Jews with the natural world through bike-rides, an annual food conference, community-supported agriculture programs, and supporting the Jewish environmental projects of other organizations.
“The strong growth of Hazon in the last decade is testament not only to our incredible staff, board members, volunteers, participants and funders; it’s also a reflection of the remarkable growth of the wider Jewish food movement and Jewish environmental movement,” says Nigel Savage, Hazon founder and longtime Isabella Freedman board member. “Both Hazon and Freedman have become known for launching new programs that bring Jewish tradition to life in incredible ways, and we see on a daily basis that our ideas resonate with growing numbers of people. In the next decade we need to take this work to scale, so that we and our partners not only renew and strengthen Jewish life, but also enable the American Jewish community to play a distinctive role in creating a more sustainable world for all. That’s what this merger aims to achieve.”
The merged organization is also expected to include the Teva Learning Alliance, which began in association with Isabella Freedman in the 1990s, but which until now has formally been a program of Surprise Lake Camp.
The new group will be called Hazon – Hebrew for “vision” – and will be headquartered at Falls Village and in New York City, with offices in California and Colorado. The retreat center will continue to be known as Isabella Freedman, one of several “sub-brands” that also include Adamah, the award-winning Jewish farming program; Elat Chayyim, spirituality-based retreats; “The Jew & The Carrot,” the New Jewish Food Movement blog; the Jewish Greening Fellowship, a leadership and organizational-transformation initiative; Makom Hadash, supporting second-stage non-profits; the Shmita Project, a multi-organization partnership to renew awareness of the shmita cycle; Siach, strengthening ties between American, European, and Israeli environmental- and social-justice leaders; and Teva, focusing on environmental education for children and educators.
Jewish Local Greens of West Hartford
Adamah has one community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in Connecticut, started in West Hartford in 2011.CSA is a mutually beneficial partnership where urban consumers receive fresh, nutritious vegetables while helping to sustain the livelihoods and stewardship of regional farmers. In a CSA arrangement, the farmer pre-sells “shares” of his or her farm’s upcoming harvest to individuals, families, and institutions.
The Jewish Local Greens CSA is not affiliated with any particular congregation; the volunteer coordinators include members of several Hartford- area congregations, and members are both Jewish and non-Jewish.
For the 2014 CSA year, weekly produce pickups will extend from June through November, usually on Thursdays, unless there is a conflict with a Jewish holiday. In addition to deliveries for registered members, the CSA includes periodic farmers’ markets where members and non-members can buy certified organic produce, as well as organic and kosher pickled vegetables, goat cheese, and jams, all produced at Adamah.
Jewish Local Greens CSA is hosting information tables and farm-stands through May 2014.
For more information, visit www.jewishlocalgreens.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KOSHER LIKE LIZ
After years of eating too many slabs of grilled salmon and pasta topped with soggy veggies, Westporter Liz Rueven got serious about finding the restaurants that serve plenty of vegetable-based dishes for kosher keepers like her. She’s kosher on the inside, veg on the go, and always on the lookout for the most scrumptious, organic, seasonal eats wherever she lands.
Rueven shares it all — restaurant and product reviews, tips on events where like-minded eaters can actually eat, and news about folks in the food world — as founder and editor of a food blog, kosherlikeme.com
Rueven facilitated a panel discussion on kosher food blogging at the 2012 Hazon Food Conference, held at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village. About the experience, she blogged: “Over the course of four jam-packed days, I met passionate, articulate and inspiring food, social and environmental activists, rabbis, educators and students, chefs and home cooks, gardeners, farmers and food producers, writers and filmmakers. We ate meals together, prayed and learned together, and shared perspectives on all things pertaining to ‘building Jewish identity and community, renewing ancient Jewish ecological, agricultural and spiritual wisdom, and producing healthy organic kosher food products.’”
Rueven shares a recipe inspired by her experience at the conference.
This easy recipe is flexible enough to suit all tastes. I use farm-fresh greens like kale and spinach from my farmers’ market, along with sautéed mushrooms and onions. Feel free to get creative and use whichever veggies and cheese your family likes best. Kids will love this with sweet red peppers and mild, shredded cheddar cheese. Source local eggs whenever possible. They are tastier and rich with nutrients. You will be wowed by their bright orange yolks, for sure
Makes approximately 12 frittattine (mini frittate) in muffin tins.
canola oil cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice, chopped (dill, parsley, cilantro, basil)
a few twists of freshly ground pepper
5 oz. crumbled feta or goat cheese, or cheese of choice (shredded or crumbled)
1 onion, chopped finely
6 oz. mushrooms, washed and chopped and/or one red (or orange) pepper, chopped finely
One generous bunch or one 5-oz. bag of organic spinach or kale, washed and rough-chopped
Pre-heat oven to 350˚F with oven rack in middle.
Spray muffin tin with canola oil.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk. Add salt, pepper and herbs.
Add cheese and mix well. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large pan.
Add onion and sauté until translucent.
Add mushrooms and/or peppers and sauté until soft.
Add greens and toss until wilted.
Drain pan of any liquid that has accumulated (save for soup stock).
Cool for 5-10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the egg mixture in large bowl. Mix to integrate well.
Spoon 2 tablespoon of mixture into each opening in muffin tin. Mix periodically so that ingredients are distributed evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until frittatine are set and tops are golden.
Remove from oven and allow pan to cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or a tablespoon, gently remove individual frittate from tin and serve.
Note: Because these are really mini soufflés, they are puffy and light when served immediately. If not, they do “fall” but they retain their shape and are still delicious. I use them as a protein-rich addition to brunch or as a light dinner with salad and soup. They make a convenient afternoon snack and a satisfying lunch to go. They freeze well in a Ziploc bag.