Fair trade? Organic? Natural? Kosher? Non-GMO? Do you know what these terms truly mean? You can find out–and nosh on some delicious food–at the fifth annual Boston Jewish Food Conference.
BJFC founder and organizer, Leora Mallach, chose transparency as the theme for the event this year, which brings together families, twentysomethings, students and Boomers in an inter-generational celebration of ethical food in a Jewish context. Says Mallach, “When we think about transparency in an industrialized food system, what do these labels mean, and how does that compare to what we think they mean?” One of the goals this year, she adds, is to “shed light on what we eat, so we can make informed decisions.” As more and more people globally express concerns about factory farming, GMOs, and food waste, to name a few issues, this topic is timely.
It’s serious learning with a fun aspect. In the spirit of being a celebration of all things Jewish food, this important learning will take place in a context of fun and inclusiveness: the opening session will be a “myth-busting gameshow,” inviting participants to share their understanding of the food supply chain and teasing information to be presented in the workshops. Sessions with titles such as “Which was factory-farmed first, the chicken or the egg?” will continue to educate in a lively way throughout the day. It’s also part of an effort to educate people on wise food choices in a way that’s relevant and accessible to all ages. Rounding out the workshops will be sessions on understanding kosher, food rescue, and farm workers’ rights.
In addition to big-picture sessions on where our food comes from, Jewish food traditions, and the future of Jewish food, there are hands-on sessions where participants can learn new cooking techniques. In fact, dinner will be prepared by participants, who will learn how to prepare borscht from the mother-son team behind Inna’s Kitchen, as well as mujadra and a local wheat berry salad, to be enjoyed together by attendees. The not-to-be missed Shuk (marketplace) features vendors and workshops, including sessions on making your own lip balm, sauerkraut, and ice-cream. There will also be an opportunity to ask a Rabbi of the local Kashrut commission your questions on keeping Kosher.
“What I love about the conference is it’s inter-generational and cross-denominational,” says Mallach, noting that her organization, Ganei Beantown, is about building community and bringing together a diverse group of Jews across all ages, traditions, and New England regions (though of course, many attendees hail from close to Beantown). The event is expected to draw 200 attendees and space is limited, so if you are interested in learning how to “nourish our bodies and our whole selves,” in an atmosphere of fun, learning, and of course, healthy, delicious food, now is the time to sign up!
The BJFC is an annual springtime event that brings together community members from all over New England to learn about Jewish agriculture, labor issues, health, food access, Kashrut and local food history. Sunday April 3, 2016 from 12:00-7:00 p.m. at Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton Centre. Childcare provided with advance registration. To register or learn more, click here.