By Dvora Meyers
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
BOULDER, Colo. (JTA) — The new Jewish food movement arose here organically, so to speak.
No large federation or organization swooped in to make sustainable farming and eating within a Jewish framework a priority.
Yet in this city of 100,000 — some 13,000 residents are Jewish — “green” has long been a way of life. So it’s not surprising that interest in sustainability has led to a variety of Jewish grass-roots projects such as the establishment of greenhouses in food deserts, a chicken and egg co-op, community farms and an organic chicken schechting (kosher butchering) project, along with — thanks to a $335,000 grant from three foundations — the arrival of Hazon, a national Jewish environmental group.
The grant, which brought Hazon to the region in December 2010, came from the Rose Foundation and the locally based Oreg Foundation and 18 Pomegranates.
On April 29, the partnership among the local funders, activists and environmental organizations will culminate with the Rocky Mountain Food Summit, which will be held at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The event will feature presentations from restaurateurs who use farm-to-table practices in their establishments, ways to adapt your bubbe’s recipes to meet your dietary and health needs, and information about GMOs, genetically modified organisms.
The goal is to shine a light on local Jews and the food movement, and to provide resources available to groups and individuals who want to change their lives for the more sustainable.
Participants will choose three sessions among 22 offerings throughout the day. Middle schoolers can attend classes geared toward their age group, including one in part based on the beloved childhood book “The Little Red Hen.” That session will examine the seed-to-table approach to farming and eating, from planting to blessings.
Rabbi Elisheva Brenner, founder and CEO of Eco Glatt; Yadidia Greenberg, who founded the Boulder Kosher meat co-op; and Bob Goldman, whose company LoKo Chicken specializes in both kosher and locally sourced birds for consumption, will lead a panel discussion on eco-ethical kosher
The day will conclude with a DIY (do-it-yourself) extravaganza where participants will get their hands dirty — literally in the case of the microgreens workshop — and leave with a new skill in addition to the information gleaned over the course of the three sessions they attended.
“We have some of Denver and Boulder’s top chefs, some amazing, successful food entrepreneurs, leaders in the field of food justice, and experts on everything from gardening and baking, beekeeping, canning and beer brewing,” said Josh Dinar, the Hazon steering committee chair who is working on the conference.
For Dinar, the connection to food is more than personal — it’s professional. He is one of the founding editors of the Dining Out magazine franchise and co-owns HBurger, a gourmet hamburger joint in Denver. “An interesting thing about being kosher — it makes you be conscious of what you are eating,” Dinar observed. “And the rest of the country is catching up to the idea that you can’t just trust that because someone calls it food, you can put it in your mouth.”
While Dinar does not observe the rules of kashrut — he urged a reporter to try the bacon-wrapped figs at a local eatery owned by another foodie Jew — he certainly is mindful of the food he eats and its origins. His family owns seven chickens that hatch eggs for the household.