Breakfast: Smoothies, smoothies, smoothies. The ingredients always contain a mixture of:
1) A milk (almond, soy, kefir)
2) Frozen fruit (berry blend, bananas, peaches)
3) A nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
I use my Magic-Bullet smoothie maker and in 1-2 minutes, my breakfast is complete. Once it’s blended, I pour the contents into a reusable bottle and toss it in my bag to drink on the subway. Each smoothie costs me less than $2.00 and contains enough vitamins, nutrients, and protein to keep me energized throughout the morning hours. My favorite combination is soy milk, frozen bananas, and peanut butter.
I love eating meat. While I am aware of how harmful conventional industrial meat production is to the environment and to our health, to say nothing of the issues of cruelty to animals and fair treatment of workers, I cannot imagine going without meat entirely. I even tried being vegetarian a couple of times, but always fell off the wagon rather quickly. By now, in the wake of the scandals at Agriprocessors, most of us know that kosher meat is not necessarily ethically superior to its non-kosher counterparts.
Some have suggested eating meat only on special occasions like Shabbat and holidays. While this practice puts healthy limits on one’s consumption of meat, and makes the consumption a meat part of the celebration and sanctification of religious occasions rather than a simple hedonistic indulgence, in some ways it seems backwards: if I think that the meat I’m eating is so morally problematic, is it really appropriate to reserve its consumption for holy occasions like the Sabbath or other holidays? If I’m going to eat meat whose production involve mistreatment of animals and workers, and degradation of the environment, it might be better to save that meat-eating for ordinary weekdays, and make more ethical (and therefore more holy), food choices on Shabbat and holidays
My journey with the Paleo lifestyle began the day after Rosh Hashanah. I use the term ‘lifestyle’ rather than ‘diet’ for many reasons. Fully committing to this major lifestyle change was a tough choice for me. As a new year approaches, it is not uncommon to profess, “I’m going to start eating healthier, control my portions and make better choices”, “I’m going to eat less, move more and exercise regularly”. However, my resolution was: “I am going to try the Paleo lifestyle for a few weeks.”
What is the paleo diet exactly? Essentially, it is eating the foods that were eaten by our ancestors in the Paleolithic era. It’s part of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle meaning that the foods you are permitted to eat are: fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, lamb, poultry, and game meat), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Foods that are not considered part of the lifestyle are dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and other processed foods since these items were not part of our ancestral menu.
“So long as Kosher consumers demand cheap meat, and a lot of it, the big slaughterhouses and packing plants will continue to churn it out as quickly and inexpensively as possible.” – Sue Fishkoff, “Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority”
Four “meat-makers” at the Hazon East Coast Food Conference, held this past weekend, who spoke at the session “Pleased to Meat You: The Story of the Sustainable Meat Revolution,” are working hard to change that. Motivated by religious imperatives and their own personal food philosophies they share a common goal: to guarantee that the meat they distribute has been treated in the most natural way possible (organic and local feed, no hormones or antibiotics), has a small ecological footprint and is ritually slaughtered according to tradition.
For those who keep kosher, every meal is an opportunity to connect the physical earth with the mystical God. If there is one time a year that all Americans get a taste of this experience, it is the ritualized meal of Thanksgiving. Enter a growing awareness about the savagery of the modern meat industry, an uncomfortable exposure of assumptions about kosher meat, and most of all, a horror of Tofurky, and kosher consumers everywhere are seeking out new options for the holiday.
As recently as a couple of years ago, the availability of kosher turkey bearing the label “organic” or “pasture-raised” or even “natural” was pretty much zero. Now, it’s a land of plenty out there, relatively speaking. While this type of turkey isn’t something that you can find on the shelves of your kosher grocer, you can order them from companies like Grow and Behold Foods and KOL Foods. With shipping, these companies will send you an 11-12 lb. turkey for $80-100. This is a lot of money, but perhaps not too exorbitant for a special meal that you can truly be grateful for and comfortable eating.
In this week’s parsha, as Noah stands outside the ark surveying a post-deluge world, God blesses him and gives him new dietary parameters: “Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses, I give you all these.” (Genesis 9:3) This divine permission to eat meat is a big departure from the instructions given generations earlier to Adam and Eve, who were only allowed to eat a vegetarian diet.
No explanation is given in the torah for this change, which is bundled together with other injunctions against eating the blood of animals and against murder. But the rabbis argue that the permission to eat meat is an attempt to put boundaries on something people were doing prior to the flood, killing animals wantonly and without regard to the fact that to eat an animal was to take a life. God was setting up checks and balances to explicitly prevent this cruelty.
But “This concession to human weakness is not a license for savagery,” argues scholar Nahum Sarna. Meat cannot be eaten without recognition of its origins in life; God’s permission can be seen as the original injunction to eat mindfully.
Photo: Shulamit Seidler-Feller
Fresn, or the Yiddish word for intense eating (in this case, in the best possible way), is really the only word to describe a day spent feasting and exploring Brooklyn with Jewish cookbook author and New York Times Dining section writer Joan Nathan.
Last Wednesday I, along with food writer Jeffrey Yoskowitz, had the pleasure of touring Joan Nathan, her son, who is a private chef, and two of her friends around the Brooklyn food world to explain why New York’s arguably most-food obsessed borough is drawing national attention.
Full of young passionate foodies, many of whom have hyper-specialized in artisanal comestibles such as pickles, ricotta cheese, chocolate and meats, the borough’s chefs and home cooks are reviving long gone food prep traditions and are mixing them with local ingredients and eco-conscious practices, creating a blend of modern and traditional food that is uniquely Brooklyn.