Posted by Alison B. Kaufman
Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking at the first annual Boston Jewish Food Conference. More than 200 participants engaged in topics ranging from Jewish Farmers Today to The Ethics of Eating from a Jewish Perspective. Leora Mallach, conference organizer, said the conference is “not just about what we eat, but how our community thinks about what the world eats.”
Perceptive beyond her years, 12-year-old conference attendee and student at The Binah School, Chava Sossis, wrote what she thinks about how we eat. She wrote of how food is central, simple, and elusive, nothing special, a treat, a treasure, and more. How can food be so many things all at once? Chava says it beautifully in the following excerpt:
You take a bite of pasta. It is ok, but nothing special. You don’t realize all of the trouble it took to make this dish. You don’t realize how many people would do so much for a simple bite of pasta. You don’t realize the centrality of your food.
Your mother gives you a piece of bread. You grab for it like a hungry wolf, eating it so quickly you don’t know where it went. You forget to chew it slowly, to save the taste of the bread that you rarely get. You know that you might not receive such a treat for days, living off the scraps of food that you manage to scavenge. You realize the centrality of your food.*
It was so moving to explore all of the questions and thoughts of the 50 people who attended the food access session at the Conference. Maybe each would connect with Chava’s sentiments. I sure do.
How can each of us play a role in helping to improve access to healthy food for all? There is more to come. On Wednesday, June 6 from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. I will be joining the Boston Area Gleaners at Waltham Fields Community Farm to continue the conversation. This gathering is a part of To Till & Tend, a weeklong intensive exploring the intersection of Judaism, agriculture, and contemporary food justice, organized by Hebrew College.
Chava’s full piece and additional creative works inspired by the Boston Jewish Food Conference are available on the conference organizer’s website: Ganei Beantown Jewish Gardens
*Shared with permission by Chava’s parents, The Binah School, and Ganei Beantown Jewish Gardens.
Alison B. Kaufman is the director of Hunger & Nutrition at JF&CS. As a licensed, registered dietitian helping the community, she has a particular passion for making the choice to eat healthy foods easier for all.