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This Book Might Change Your Life

By Judith Belasco, Director of Food Programs, Hazon

My first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pick up of fresh, local, organic veggies is a few days away. In mid-winter, I plunked down $550, signed up for my volunteer slots, and felt good that I was voting with my fork for a healthier, more sustainable food system. During the 2011 growing season, I’m joined by a network of 56 Hazon CSAs and thousands more CSAs in communities across the country. While I am excited for the East Coast season to begin, I’m aware of the many people who are unable to access CSA shares and those who are unable to access healthy food at all. Our food system is broken.  Joining a CSA is a great first step, and there is more we can do in order to fix it.

Enter Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, a practical guide to changing not only what we eat, but how our food is grown, packaged, delivered, marketed and sold. Author and founder of the Fair Food Network, Oran B. Hesterman, shows how our food system’s dysfunctions are the unintended consequences of our emphasis on efficiency, centralization, higher yields, profit, and convenience. Fair Food describes four key principles a redesigned food system should embody – equity, diversity, ecological integrity, and economic viability. In addition, it offers examples of how various individuals and organizations have started to integrate these principles into their enterprises. Fair Food closes as practical guide for how individual and collective action can create big changes in our food system. This book might change your life. Fair Food was released for publication on June 1.

As Hesterman says, now is the time for each of us “to shift from conscious consumers to engaged citizens.” We need to think about the food policies that affect our lives. From our Jewish institutions to the USDA Farm Bill, food policies, overt or implicit, affect how food is produced, processed, distributed, purchased, or protected.

Join Us to Learn More – then Host a Book Club in Your Community
Creating a more sustainable food system

June 13 4 – 5 pm ET

What are some concrete, effective steps we can take NOW to make our food system more sustainable? Fair Food, a just released book by Oran Hesterman, has answers. On this special Hazon webinar, Oran Hesterman, author of Fair Food and president and CEO of Fair Food Network will present some of the groundbreaking yet practical suggestions about how you can participate in collective action to precipitate big changes in our food system, from your kitchen to your community to your state house and the White House. RSVP required to liz.kohn@hazon.org

Build a Jewishly informed Farm Bill

July 20 from 4 – 5 pm ET

The Farm Bill affects a wide range of issues -from what food is readily available to how much it costs and from how we provide for the hungry to maintaining open land for conservation.  The Bill contains billions of dollars in funds for agricultural subsidies and farm relief programs, hunger relief and emergency food aid, environmental conservation programs, and many other government programs. Oran Hesterman, author of Fair Food, will explore the key elements of the Farm Bill, how it shapes our food system, and how it is could help create a healthy, sustainable food system. The Fair Food Network, led by Oran, and Hazon will explore why we, as a Jewish people, should make our voices heard for support of farm and food initiatives that will bring fair food to all. RSVP required to liz.kohn@hazon.org

Take Action in Your Jewish Institution

Over the next few months, Hazon will be working to refine a Food Guide Toolkit which will enable you to evaluate the food sustainability and justice in your Jewish institution and to create action plans to make healthier, more sustainable food choices there. Alongside the Fair Food Network, we are asking you to make a commitment to engage the leadership of your Jewish institution (maybe it’s you!) to view food as a critical issue in the development of your community (because it is). Find one way you can make a change in the way things are done. This may mean exclusively seeking out caterers who source locally for your celebrations, partnering with a farm to provide produce for school lunches, setting up a Sunday Farmers’ Market, or laying out an expanded set of kosher guidelines for the types of foods you will serve at your institution’s events.

Take Action at the Policy Level- Farm Bill

What should a Jewishly informed Farm Bill include? With discussions around the 2012 Farm Bill beginning soon, it is important to start to familiarize yourself with the issues that will be up for discussion. Hazon and the Fair Food Network are partnering to provide you with up-to-date information as the Farm Bill re-authorization process unfolds. We expect Jewish tradition will enable us to better understand the challenges in our contemporary food system. Learn more on July 20 with Oran Hesterman by attending the Build a Jewishly informed Farm Bill webinar.

Together we can work to create a healthy, sustainable food system for all. If you want to host a book club, develop a Sustainable and Just Food Policy in your Jewish institution, or join our Farm Bill learning and action group, please be in touch.

Judith Belasco is Hazon’s Director of Food Programs. Judith guides all of Hazon’s food programs as they continue to grow. In 2008, Judith was named to the Heeb 100 list of people you need to know about. Judith is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and graduated with a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Public Health from Columbia University and holds a Bachelors degree in Urban Studies from Vassar College. Prior to coming to Hazon, she was the Program Coordinator of Linking Food & the Environment (LiFE) where she designed, conducted, and evaluated an after-school cooking program in East Harlem for grades 3 through 6. She’s also served as research assistant for Anne Lappe, author of “Grub: Eating in an Urban Organic Kitchen,” and received awards in nutrition education.

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