Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Talkin' Turkey About Ethical Eating

At the recent Reform movement biennial, two major initiatives were proposed, both of which are already part of our agenda. Read a summary of the hi tech initiative here -
4 great suggestions for integrating technology into synagogue life.

The other initiative has to do with eating ethically, and includes a recommendation to build community gardens. Well, guess what we've been doing this past week! Our TBE garden is nearly complete. By next Thanksgiving we'll be ready for a feast with the Natives. We'll bring our first fruits up to Foxwoods and have a feast!

The drive for ethical eating is a major trend cutting across the board (or this week, "carving" across the board) of the denominations. The Conservative movement is promoting it's new ethical kashrut certification Magen Tzedek (see also Magen Tzedek: Model of the Jewish Future or Show Without an Audience?) and in light of the Rubashkin fiasco (see also the Forward editorial here), Orthodox groups have been proclaiming the need to promote "Yosher" over "Kosher" (in other words, ethical behavior to match ritual strictness in food production).

See http://urj.org/life/food/ for the Reform Movement's recommendations on eating ethically and for families with kids this week, check out their material on Celebrating Thanksgiving Jewishly.

See especially the Food for Thought Curriculum, an extensive guide to ethical eating, created in partnership with Hazon, leaders of the new Jewish food movement, to prepare this special Food for Thought curriculum designed for adult education and religious school classes. In this three-part series, you’ll learn how to consecrate your food through Jewish blessing, think critically about the ethical implications of food choices and food systems, and discover the real effects of red meat consumption.

I used material that curriculum in my class on ethical eating given at last Saturday night's Tapestry program. You can see some of the other materials I used here as we looked at the values symbolized by our "Jewish" foods and taboos and some of the sources promoting vegetarianism.

With all the scandals that have shamed us this past year, perhaps the Agriprocessors scandal has the most potential to yield a positive outcome. Ethical eating makes sense on so many levels, environmentally and economically in addition to all the community building that can take place when you have a community garden such as the one we are building. And then there are the ethical concerns themselves, involving the treatment of animals as well as human laborers. I have been reading Jonathan Safron Foer's new book "Eating Animals" and highly recommend it. But if you are not a vegetarian, you might want to wait until after Thursday's main course is served.

Once you read it, your next Thanksgiving meal might just consist of things harveested from our TBE Community Garden!

Happy (and ethical) eating!

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