The Jew And The Carrot

What's For Dinner on Yiddish Farm?

By Ezra Glinter

  • Print
  • Share Share
Nate Lavey

Traditional Ashkenazi food is often thought of as meat-heavy, fat-heavy, and just plain heavy (think brisket, flankn, gribenes and shmaltz). But that’s not the case at Yiddish Farm, despite the otherwise pervasive emphasis on Ashkenazi language and culture.

Yiddish Farm, a Yiddish-speaking organic farm in Goshen, N.Y., was founded to strengthen the language through an immersive environment, and to promote environmentalism through organic agriculture. (Read an article I wrote about Yiddish Farm in this week’s Forward here.)That means not only growing food in a sustainable way, but eating environmentally friendly food as well.

Fortuitously, one of the participants in Yiddish Farm is Arlen Baden, a vegan chef who cooks many of the group’s meals. On a recent visit to the farm I sat down with Baden to ask him about his culinary practices, as well as about the journey that brought him to Yiddish Farm.

Baden, 66, is a retired bilingual guidance councilor with the New York City school system as well as a trained chef who has cooked at the The Natural Gourmet Cookery School (now the Natural Gourmet Institute) the Omega Institute and the Kripalu Institute. He has been a vegan for 32 years.

Nate Lavey

These days, Baden spends most of his time on the road, travelling to and volunteering at film and music festivals around the country. He found out about Yiddish Farm last year, when he came to participate in one of their first events, the weekend-long Golus Festival. This year, he returned for a three-week stay.

While most of the food served at Yiddish Farm is organic, it’s not necessarily vegan, or even vegetarian. But Baden only cooks vegan food, which makes it a challenge to come up with dishes that will be enjoyed by people who are used to what he calls the “SAD diet,” or standard American diet.

“My goal in cooking is to be able to present something to my Yiddishe Bobbe she wouldn’t know wasn’t the rikhtike zakh,” he said, using the Yiddish term for the “real thing.”

Each Monday and Thursday Baden goes shopping for groceries. He tries to buy locally as much as possible, frequenting a nearby Chinese market, though he also resorts to the “blessed Trader Joe’s.” He also uses whatever produce is available from the farm itself.

When I visited in early June the only vegetables ready for eating were garlic scapes, which Baden uses as garnish, although other crops have since become ready to harvest as well. In a recent cooking video for the Forverts, Rukhl Schaechter and Eve Jochnowitz showed how to prepare beet salad, spinach and garlic bread using vegetables that were grown on the farm.

Baden said that he tries to have a grain and a green at every meal, and to balance the dishes so that there are a variety of tastes and textures. Recently he made something he called “deconstructed kasha varnishkes,” consisting of a kasha soup and varnishkes salad.

“I don’t make too big a deal of how healthy it is, but it has to taste good, it has to have texture, it has to taste like what everyone’s used to,” he said. He does insist on not using anything with artificial preservatives or coloring, and never any animal products. “The idea of the farm is sustainability,” he said, “and vegan, as far as I’m concerned, is the best way.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yiddish Farm

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!
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?








You may also be interested in our English-language newsletters:













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

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.