The Jew And The Carrot

Seven (Local) Species for Tu B'Shvat

By Alyssa Berkowitz and Anna Hanau

  • Print
  • Share Share
Hazon Staff

It’s coming up on Tu B’Shvat, and for many, the holiday poses a dilemma. On the one hand, the kabbalistic roots of the holiday invite us to connect to the land of Israel through its food. Many of the symbolic foods at Tu B’Shvat seders are among the Seven Species of crops mentioned in Deuteronomy that have grown in the land of Israel since ancient times. Anyone who has bitten into a juicy pomegranate, or tasted perfect techina sauce, knows the experience of being transported to another world by food. (*Pop Quiz time: Seven Species include: Barley, Wheat, Pomegranates, Dates, Figs, Olives and Grapes).

And yet. Here we are, in the dead of winter, trying to eat locally (and wondering exactly what that means), live in harmony with the seasons, pay attention to the world around us. For many in the United States, Israel’s flora is decidedly exotic and not available at your local farmer’s market. What then are we to do?

We offer two suggestions. The first is to live it up. Buy those foods from far away and marvel at the technology that brought them to your plate. Celebrate the special treat pomegranates as the juice runs down your chin. It’s nice to have a rhythm to the year — going without certain foods most of the time means that some of the time, in fact, we should indulge, enjoy, celebrate.

Option two keeps us closer to home and lower on the carbon footprint: in many cases it is possible to source these special foods locally (or at least regionally) from sustainable producers. And if you do end up serving foods from farther away, see if there are dried versions available — they don’t have to be transported in refrigerated trucks, and are one of our oldest ways of preserving the bounty of the harvest all year round.

If you have other sources for the Seven Species, or your other favorite Tu B’Shvat foods, please share!

Wheat and Barley To feature sustainable grains during your Tu B’Shvat seder, look for a local grain. In the New York area, Cayuga Pure Organics offers a wide variety of organic, sustainably grown products. Down south, Great River Milling offers whole wheat, organic flours perfect for baking a Tu B’Shvat challah. Find others at Local Harvest. If no grains are grown in your area, look for organic wheat flour or barley from artisanal companies such as Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Flour, which distribute nationally.

Grapes Grapes grow abundantly in many regions of this country…but not in February. Never fear! We’ve preserved our grape harvests in ingenious ways: raisins, jellies and of course, wine. Visit Hazon’s list of Kosher Organic Wines for sustainable options from around the country.

Figs and Dates Instead of offering fresh varieties of figs and pomegranates, opt for jam, jellied, or dried forms. If you can get your hands on some fresh figs, try preparing this “fig newton” recipe that is a healthier alternative to the store-bought version. For United States-grown dates, check out offerings from Sun Date, which are grown locally in California.

Pomegranates Usually associated with Rosh Hashana, these ruby red fruits can also be eaten at a Tu B’Shvat seder in the category of “fruit with an inedible outer shell.” Or enjoy them dried (available at Trader Joe’s); juiced, or have a Shirley Temple: grenadine syrup is made from pomegranates.

Olives Believe it or not, the peak of the olive season in the United States is during the winter! Olives are harvested from November to January in California. In California, The California Olive offers a wide variety of oils featured at local farmer’s markets. For a great, kosher olive oil and other olive products, we recommend supporting Negev Nectars (who also carry dried dates, pomegranate jam, and a host of other good stuff!)


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: tu b'shvat

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!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • 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.