Hazon Food Values, Policies, and Best Practices
"va’achalta va’savata u’veirachtaa" / you shall eat, and be satisfied and make a blessing
Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
We’re heirs to 3,000 years of tradition about keeping kosher which is to say, we’ve asked whether a particular food was fit for us to eat. And we understand that our food choices make a difference not only to ourselves but to the people who produce our food and the land and the animals that provide it.
In our society, all too often the readily available and familiar sources for our food prioritize uniform quality and economies of scale over taste, nutrition, environmental health, and local communities.
We recognize that in trying to address our contemporary and traditional food values, a tension often arises. Is it better to choose the kosher option instead of the sustainable one? Local instead of organic? It is when these two values are in tension that the interesting conversations take place.
Hazon established a series of food policies and best practices that were guided by our contemporary and traditional food values. These policies and practices are reflected in all our food-related decisions both within the New York City office and at every Hazon event, whether it is a bike ride, food conference, or meeting. It encompasses what foods we purchase, serve, and eat; and what materials we use to prepare, serve, and clean up afterwards.
We hope that these guidelines will help you start your own conversation and inform the decisions in your institution or organization.
Our Food Policies based on Our Food Values
Kosher – Because inclusive Jewish community is central to what we do and believe in, the meals we serve should be accessible to people across the Jewish spectrum.
In practice we distinguish between small-scale and informal contexts and larger-scale and formal ones:
- In the Hazon office, staff can bring in non-kosher food from their kitchens for internal consumption, but it must be clearly marked as not kosher.
- Beyond the Hazon office, when Hazon is serving food, food should be hechshered, with the hechsher provided so that people can decide for themselves if the food is of the kosher standard that they adhere to.? In the event that a product is not hechshered (but includes no ingredients that are explicitly treif) the product can still be served as long as it is made obvious and unmistakable that there is no hashgacha.
Healthy Hazon believes in serving healthy, nourishing food that is pesticide free. In general our society consumes too much refined white sugar and flour, high fructose corn syrup, and salt. However, celebrations and holidays are often marked by account of the ordinary foods especially sweets and snacks.? Additionally, some of our outdoor adventure programs (bike rides) require participants to eat foods heavy in sugar and salt to maintain their energy and electrolyte levels. We aim to find a balance between serving foods worthy of the simcha, and sustainable for a bike rider, while maintaining a focus on whole, fresh and nourishing foods. We think there’s value in working extra hard to produce treats that are healthier than what is normal in our society.
Ethical We care not only about the food but about the circumstances of the people who produced, prepared or served it, and when we eat animals we want to know how they lived and how they died. In general we believe that informed choices ultimately change behavior. We encourage looking for Uri L’Tzedek’s Tav HaYosher ethical seal when choosing a restaurant to eat at or order from. Tav HaYosher is awarded to eating establishments that treats its workers ethically.
Low Carbon We aim to serve food that has the lowest-possible carbon impact, including the amount and type of packaging that is used to contain it during transit, the dishes and utensils that we eat on, and how we clean/dispose of those after a meal. In addition, we consider the miles that our food travels to get to our table, thus emphasizing a menu that changes with the seasons.
Delicious Food should be inspirationally delicious. Enough said!
Cost Effective As Michael Pollan (and others) have suggested, we should not shy away from paying more than we’re used to for good-quality food that fits our values. That said we have to make our food choices fit into our overall budget.
Transparency/Education We believe in using food and Jewish cultural tradition as a teaching tool and a conversation starter. We think learning about ethical animal treatment is as important as discussing Jewish holiday foods or what Jews in different parts of the world eat. We also believe in empowering individuals to make choices according to their own values.? So being transparent about the choices we make is critical to our food work.
Balance In practice, many of these values conflict. Do we provide kosher grass-fed beef but transport it 3,000 miles? Do we have superbly cooked food at board meetings but have to spend an unreasonably large amount to do so? Do we incorporate Jewish cultural traditions into our food orders even if the food isn’t sustainably grown or raised? How far can we reasonably go in finding out where food comes from? If 2 people at a 500 person event will only eat a particular level of kosher certification, do we provide special food for them, or significantly alter the food for everyone? What if it were 20 people rather than 2? So balance is a central and overarching value for us our determination to do the best we can, but to understand that we can’t always meet all of our criteria. Though we will continue to try to do so!
Our Food Best Practices based on our Food Values
When planning seven day Israel bike rides or evening volunteer leadership meetings, the Hazon staff strives to provide kosher, healthy, delicious, ethical, organic, local, low-carbon meals. In practice, here are concrete guidelines to use when planning a Hazon event or meeting.
In the Office:
Staff Lunches/ Meetings
- Bringing your own lunch in reusable containers is the “greenest” and potentially healthiest way to eat at work since you can control exactly what is in your food
- When placing orders out of the office:
- Order carefully avoid over purchasing food
- Make sure to ask for no napkins/ plastic utensils/ plates
- If there are plastic or aluminum containers, reuse or recycle them
- Use the water pitchers and glasses or cups in meetings. If you need a change from water, avoid sugary sodas and fruit punches instead, serve seltzers or 100% real fruit juices. For celebrations, scotch, wine, and/or beer are all staff favorites.
- Use the list at the end of this paper of recommended places to order from in NYC
- Buy fresh – purchase local and/ or organic, kosher fruit, veggies, and other farmers market treats
- Buy non perishables in bulk ex: nuts, dried fruit, granola and avoid using plastic bags to hold your bulk item, cloth bags work just as well
- Buy fair trade, organic chocolate
- Read your labels if you can’t pronounce it, don’t bring it to the office/ meeting/ event
- Purchase fair trade and organic
Plates / Utensils
- During the summer of 2009, Hazon purchased glass dishes to replace disposable and compostable dishes that were being used. Use the dishes!
- Place cans, plastics, and glass jars in the appropriate recycling receptacle
- Place paper and cardboard in the appropriate recycling receptacle
- Strive to have a litter-free meal whether you are serving 5, 50, 500 or more
Hazon currently leases office space and as part of the agreement is not able to have find decision-making capability in all green areas the following items are currently not within the direct purview of Hazon. With Hazon’s move to Makom Hadash, it is our intention to implement these guidelines.
- Use eco friendly dish soap and sponges
- Avoid paper towel use, instead use dish towels or reusable bamboo/ sponge cloth
- Use a small amount of water and soap when washing plates, a little goes a long way!
- Only run dishwasher when it is full!
- Keep a container (labeled compost) in the freezer and put leftover food, coffee grounds, and tea bags into the container
- Drop off compost at Union Square (or other local farmers market that collects compost) every week
- Energy star dishwasher and refrigerator
- Low flow tap for sink facet
- Water filtration system that does not rely on bottles or disposable filters