The Jewish Food Movement

Jewish Food Movement

The new Jewish Food Movement: (draft) 7-year goals

Over the past few years, a growing number of Jewish foodies, farmers, rabbis, chefs, teachers, students, families and many others have brought meaning to the words new Jewish Food Movement, asking why and how one can eat in a way that is both deeply Jewish and deeply sustainable.

It is time to ask a new question: where will this movement be in 7 years? Last Rosh Hashanah ended the last shmita (sabbatical year) cycle, and we’ve begun the countdown to the end of the next shmita cycle in September 2015. Using the shmita cycle, with its wisdom about our relationship to the land as a guide, what should be the goals of the Jewish food movement? How do you envision that the Jewish community (in the United States, Israel, and the entire world) will look and act differently in its relationship to food by September, 2015?

A set of draft 7-year goals were unveiled at the 2008 Hazon Food Conference in December. These goals are a taste of what is possible, and many of you who were at the Conference took the time to add your personal vision to these goals. We now want to bring the opportunity to explore and expand these goals to a broader community.

Strong relationships with farms and farmers and a powerful Tuv Ha’Aretz Jewish CSA network. At least 180 CSAs in American Jewish communities around the country and other countries. At least 180 local organic farms being actively supported by Jewish communities; at least 10,000 families putting their purchasing power, as Jews, behind local sustainable agriculture. Most of all, at least 25,000 Jewish people having a direct relationship with a farmer, and to see her or him as growing food directly on their behalf;

“Jewish food education” recognized as an important discrete discipline within the Jewish community. A growing number of Jewish food educators working with schools, synagogues, JCCs and camps to integrate teachings about food in relation to health, ethics, tradition and culture;
More Jewish farmers and more sharing of Jewish farming wisdom. Adamah & Kayam & Jewish Farm School and other equivalent programs: at least 180 Jewish 20-somethings a year graduating from programs that give hands-on knowledge about food, farming and Jewish tradition – and moving on to become leaders and role models within American Jewish life;Meat.

American Jews will eat less meat and fewer animal products generally. The meat they do eat will be from animals that have lived animal-like lives, that have eaten foods those animals traditionally eat, that have been raised in ways respectful to animals and to the land, and that have been killed in ways that are consonant with the highest standards of shechitah and Jewish ethics; Heksher Tzedek and other mechanisms to identify ethically/sustainably raised meat will be fully established and national chains such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes will offer meat with the Heksher Tzedek.

Food security and hunger. Programs such as Challah for Hunger, Table to Table, Hazon Yeshayah, Mazon and AJWS will have grown strongly, so that American Jews are raising and donating more dollars to help people directly in need; Hazon sponsors FAST DAYS as education for food justice days.

Food advocacy; as a community, we’ll play a growing role not only in tzedakah – directly helping those in need – but also in changing public policy, so that we create food systems that are healthy and sustainable for America’s food workers, for all of America’s people and all of the world’s people; As a community we will build power for change, so that we can be allies to the communities most affected by worker injustice in farming, food production, and food service: low wage farm workers, processing/packing house workers, truckers, hospitality/restaurant/hotel workers, etc. In doing so, we will work as a Jewish community to support their efforts for living wage, benefits, health/safety/training measures, as well as related policy concerns, such as immigrant rights/immigration reform, and full access to education, social services, and participation in civic life.
Re-learning the old rhythms of simplicity and feasting. If we’re successful, we hope that in 2015 American Jews will be a role model to other communities in celebrating Shabbat and holidays – Jewish and secular, national and personal – with great joy, and gatherings, and song, and wonderful feasts; and that during the other six days of the week we’ll eat more lightly and more simply. Our motto will be that of our teacher, Reb Michael Pollan: “eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants…”

The Jewish food movement will have a voice/representative/ track in all major Jewish leaders’ conferences – RA, RRA, UAHS, CAJE, Aleph, Kallah, Biennial, etc.
Celebration and inclusion. We’ll do this work with joy, with good humor, and with delight that people are different and legitimately make different choices in their lives. The Jewish food movement is about ethics and justice and environmental sustainability. And it’s also about family, memory, kashrut, culture, cooking, baking, davenning, food-writing, food-photography, Israel, education, holidays, halacha… and the ancient rivalry of latkes and hamentaschen;

The Hazon Food Conference will be a gathering of more than 2,000 people – one of the largest events in the annual calendar of the American Jewish community, a significant and powerful event in its own right, and a place that enables leaders within the Jewish food movement to inspire themselves and each other and to build relationships that will sustain this work throughout the year. The Food Conference will be an inclusive event accessible to students and those with limited means.

Prepare for the next shmita year. Physically and spiritually our communities and our farmlands will be prepared to implement the laws of shmita by the time of Rosh Hashanah/Sept 2015.

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