Tag Archives: Food Policy
Seder plate

A Tomato on the Seder Plate?

Passover is holiday full of symbolism. We eat the bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. We dip parsley in saltwater to recall the tears of our ancestors in Egypt. The charoset is meant to resemble the mortar the Israelites were forced to use while building structures for Pharaoh and their Egyptian oppressors. These traditional symbols have paved the way for contemporary symbolism, allowing modern Jews to use the Seder plate as a place for social or political expression.

In recent years, placing an orange on a Seder plate has become a statement with various interpretations. Introduced by Jewish feminist and scholar, Susannah Heschel, the orange has come to represent the inclusion of women and LGBT people in the Jewish tradition. In general, the orange is meant to symbolize the rejection of the notion that “a woman, [gay person or other historically marginalized person] belongs on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.”

This year, I invite you to include another item on your Seder plate, a symbol of food justice. Read more…

Jewish envrionmental heart

The “10 Human Plagues” on Our Environment

Each year on Passover, we recall the pleas of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh demanding, “Let my people go!” And when Pharaoh refuses, Moses warns that God will smite Egypt with a series of plagues: water turns to blood, frogs overrun the land, lice infest the people and animals, wild beasts storm the cities, pestilence kills the domestic animals, painful boils afflict the Egyptians, hail descends from the sky, locust devour crops and greenery, darkness envelops the land and finally, the firstborn children of the all of the Egyptians are slain. How do we understand these 10 plagues in the context of our modern world? What “plagues” us now? More intensely over the last few years, there have been extreme weather events and natural disasters at the hand of climate change. These are perhaps the most devastating “plagues” of our time. If we do not act now to protect our environment, we will see the modern plagues of climate disruption.

Consider these “10 Human Plagues” on our environment: Read more…

Students receiving school lunch

Ensuring Access to School Lunch in Minnesota

At the beginning of this year, a school in Utah made headlines after throwing away students’ meals because they had a deficit in their school lunch accounts. Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to Utah and occurs nationwide. But in one state, Jewish advocates are making a big push to do something about it. Read more…

Michelle Obama with Elmo and a basket of fruit and vegetables with faces

First Lady Fights Childhood Obesity

Building on the expansion of school meals programs, First Lady Michelle Obama announced new school wellness plans and food marketing regulations for our nation’s schools. Beyond the First Lady’s announcement, it’s been a busy week in the fight to end child obesity–a new report found a surprising 43% decline in obesity among 2-5 year old children in America over the last eight years. Read more…

Logo for SNAP program featuring a bag of groceries with various commodities inside

A Month Without Meals: SNAP Update

While nearly 4,000 Reform Jews prayed, learned and schmoozed at the URJ Biennial in San Diego last week, the Congressional committee working on the Farm Bill was quietly making progress. The Farm Bill committee plans to pass the five-year renewal of the bill by early January to avoid the effects of the “dairy cliff,” which will go into effect on January 1st. While this is good news for agriculture programs, rumors are swirling that funding for the SNAP program is less than ideal. Read more…

Mark Bittman

A Delicious Biennial with Mark Bittman

Hungry to learn about food justice and Judaism? At the URJ Biennial on Friday, December 13th, New York Times columnist and author of How to Cook Everything Mark Bittman will satiate your appetite for the updates on the most pressing issues for our contemporary food system.

After having struggled with weight and heart disease, Mark Bittman has become a major proponent for healthy food that is both good for you and the environment. In this forum, Bittman will discuss how Jewish tradition intersects with sustainable agriculture, hunger, health and nutrition. Read more…

Season’s Eatings

This week, we will be celebrating the holiday of Thanks-giving, a time to come together with family and friends and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. The observance of Thanks-giving commemorates the harvest festival and the holiday is centered on a meal that typically includes seasonal dishes.

In this day and age, you can get whatever food you want whenever you want it. If you’re craving a peach in the middle of a northeastern February, you can likely find one in the supermarket shipped from China or Georgia. In our ever-globalizing world, the produce section of a typical grocery store does not vary much from season to season. However, being able to eat a peach in February, while convenient, is not necessarily great for the environment or even for you as a consumer looking for the highest quality at the lowest cost. Read more…

Middle-aged woman delivering a meal to a elderly women in her kitchen. They are smiling at each other.

Protect the Vulnerable During the Holidays: Seniors at Risk

This post is the second in a series highlighting the effects of sequestration cuts and potential funding cuts that could come out of congressional conferences in the next few weeks. Read the first post about the effects of these cuts on women here.

Most Americans are familiar with the important safety net programs that assist American seniors, such as Social Security and Medicare. But most don’t know that despite these programs, nearly 5 million seniors still face the risk of hunger and many seniors rely on SNAP (food stamps) and Meals on Wheels to avoid going hungry. But Congress has made avoiding hunger more difficult for seniors this year. Read more…