Happy New Year

Posted: January 6, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2010! I hope everyone’s holidays were lovely.

The Hazon Food Conference was held over Christmas weekend, and I realize that in the previous post there wasn’t much actual information about what was discussed. Much of the workshops were regarding sustainable agriculture, CSAs (community supported agriculture), community gardens, permaculture, etc. There were a few of DIY foodie workshops too, making your own mozzarella, pickles and sourdough bagels. Many of these had a Jewish slant, Hazon being at the epicenter of the New Jewish Food Movement.

Much of what took my interest, though, were the food justice workshops. These tended to overlap with the workshops mentioned above but also were concerning how to help our communities with regard to hunger and poverty, and also how to unite our communities around a greater good. For example, I met someone like Jonathan, a charismatic guy with so many ideas on how to improve people’s lives he can’t bear to contain them all. Based in San Francisco, he built a community garden next to a formerly dilapidated children’s library so impoverished city kids could get the chance to experience where their food really comes from: not the grocery store but a plant!

At another workshop I learned about anti-hunger advocacy. The president of MAZON, a major Jewish anti-hunger organization, who led the workshop, said that he even went so far as going on a Food Stamp Hunger Challenge Diet of only spending $21 a WEEK on food, to raise awareness of this issue. A week! That’s how much California gives out in food stamps per week. Insane, right? And he gained weight because the cheapest stuff out there is total junk food.

I met many, many people with the same goal and aspiration: to help others. It was refreshing to meet so many people like this all in one place.

One last panel I’d like to mention was titled “American Kosher: From Manishevitz to Tootsie Pops”. While it delved more into the spirituality of keeping kosher than I expected, I did learn a couple of amazing facts. Did you know that there were kosher meat riots on the Lower East Side in New York City, not once, not twice, but three times?? Yes, it’s true. Due to kosher butchers’ price gouging, housewives went on rampages in 1902, 1903 and 1917, attacking those who dared purchase any of the immorally high-priced meat. You’d think that would discourage further hikes in prices but I guess the butchers didn’t learn the first two times around.

All in all, this was a very enlightening experience. Part of my responsibility now is to create an event or program in my community relating to what I’ve learned. A group of young New York scholarship recipients and I are discussing now what we’ll do next. Be on the lookout, it will most likely be Tu B’shvat related, the new year for the trees, which is coming up at the end of January. This can be a great opportunity for a fun, educational meal. Recipes will definitely be provided!

What else? I’m looking forward to 2010. 2009 was a mixed bag for me. Food-related wishlist for this year:
- Join a CSA (financially pending).
- Change up my daily menu more; a girl can’t live on swiss chard and bulgur wheat alone.
- Grind coffee myself instead of buying ground beans.
- Buy more organic food (financially pending).
- Step out of my comfort zone and create different kinds of ethnic foods. Thai? Indian? French??
- Buy and read more cookbooks.
- Do more anti-hunger advocacy of some sort!
- Finally eat a banh mi.

Those all seem doable. Happy new year, everyone!

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.