I've just recently returned from a Summer vacation in Ireland (hence the lack of blogging for a while). As I so often do when I'm away, I took advantage of eating local foods whenever I could. Its part of the joy of visiting another place to not only sample the regional cuisine, but to look for locally grown ingredients in the food too - its always the freshest and the flavors are almost always vastly superior. In Ireland that included eating some of the juiciest, sweetest strawberries I've had in a very long time, from a local Kerry farm. And it included the joys of eating fish that had arrived at the dock of the very town we stayed in (Dingle) the very day we were eating it.
local harvest (which also provides info on local farms and farmers markets in States across the country).
Buying local food is seldom the cheapest option, because we're usually dealing with small scale producers that cannot compete with huge agribusiness. But I find that the intensity of flavors and overall quality makes me much more appreciative of what I'm putting inside of me and, subsequently, I eat less and more healthily. It also encourages more creativity at mealtimes with meals based on what is in season and what was coming from the farms this week. At eatlocalchallenge.com they have a top 10 list of reasons to eat local.
There's a lot of attention in the Jewish community these days to expanding our consciousness about food ethics. I was reminded by a Jewish Youth Worker who I met at the URJ Kutz Camp this Summer who was from London that I've been teaching about Eco-Kashrut since the early '90s. (It turned out, as we introduced ourselves, that she realized that I had been her Religious School teacher when she was 10, 20 years ago, and this was one of the things she remembered about my classes!). I was inspired by teachers like Rabbi Arthur Waskow at The Shalom Center, who had been writing about it even earlier than that.
Hazon and programs for Jews to learn about sustainable farming in the context of Judaism at places like the Adamah Fellowship program at Isabella Freedman Center or the Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Baltimore. Many Jewish organizations and schools expose their children to Teva, which provides residential courses for youth to learn about Jewish environmental awareness and sustainability.
The CCAR Press (the publishing body for the Reform movement's Rabbinic association) recently released 'The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic', edited by Rabbi Mary Zamore. It is a wonderful collection that takes spiritual consciousness and ethics around issues of food from many different angles, offering a contemporary lens through which we can all think more deeply about the consequences of our day-to-day food decisions. At B'nai Israel we are looking forward to welcoming Rabbi Zamore at our Shabbat author's series next Spring.