The Jew And The Carrot

Beyond Canned Food Drives – Innovative Food Justice

By Liz Schwartz

  • Print
  • Share Share

As the national discussion about food widens to include terms like food desert, food insecurity and food justice, Jewish food activists are broadening their responses to hunger in new and creative ways.

At the Hazon Food Conference West, I sat in on a panel discussion that highlighted examples of individuals and communities that are helping provide healthy sustainable food to all. Here are some of their stories and what drives them:

• Eli Goldstein, manager of EKAR Farm in Denver, which broke ground a year ago, spoke about his project which is a combination of a 50-plot community garden and a two-acre farm, situated next to a Jewish day school. This year the farm produced 8,000 pounds of food, with the help of over 1200 volunteers of all ages, including the students next door. EKAR’s food is donated to the Jewish Family Services food pantry in Denver. Goldstein’s explained his motivation: “Rather than ask, ‘What problem am I addressing?’ I ask, ‘What value am I adding?’”

• Anne Hromadka the chair of the Progressive Jewish Alliance’s LA Food Justice Committee incorporates her work on food justice into the Hebrew school class she teaches. After watching a video about Top Ramen and learning about its lack of nutritional value her students learned of a local Jewish food charity collecting large quantities. They asked the organization if they could donate healthier soups instead. The class mobilized the entire religious school to collect healthy food. A neighboring larger synagogue heard about the students’ activism and switched the focus of their food drive to collect more nutritious foods as well. Hromadka said of the project, “As an educator, I want the kids to understand that the root word of tzedakah is tzedek. Justice is what drives tzedakah. That’s the most powerful and beautiful thing Judaism has brought me.”

• Ilana Schachter, a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College, discussed a project she runs for Jewish and Muslim teens. The group studies the food cultures and laws of both religions. Students discovered a great deal overlap between the two religions; food justice teachings are very similar, as are the laws of kashrut and halal. There’s even an eco-halal movement that parallels the eco-kashrut movement. Schachter commented, “Anybody can get involved in the interfaith work I’ve been doing. What you really need is an identified value of what you want to work toward, and passion and energy to carry it out.”

Liz Schwartz is a free-lance writer, researcher and food activist in Portland, Oregon. She is also an avid gardener, cook and eater.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Hebrew Union College, Hazon Food Conference, Ekar farm, Progressive Jewish Alliance

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.