Monday, April 30, 2012

A Hazon Food Summit Recap

I had the pleasure of spending 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today up in Boulder at the first Hazon Rocky Mountain Food Summit, which was, in a word, stellar. I attended three panels -- Eco-Ethical Meat, Kashrut and You; Caffeinate Your Conscience; and The Jew and the Eatery: Jewish Restaurateurs of Denver and Boulder -- as well as a workshop on how to make infused vinegar (I'm so stoked to do this, by the way).

A graphic artist recorded what "Food Is ..."

Some things I picked up on are ... (and all the photos are here, FYI)

The only way the kosher meat/chicken market will succeed with ethical practices, the highest-quality meat, and proper schechting (ritual slaughter) is if we scale back. Tradition, tradition! The industrial revolution gave us the power of quantity and speed, but with that came the unethical treatment of animals and schechting that goes so fast that oftentimes it's not even really kosher. Success, ethics, and halakah will come when we return to the classic manner of society where you know the farmer who raises the animals, you know how the farmer raises the animals, you know your butcher, and you know that your butcher knows what he's doing. Here in Colorado, there are a few chicken/goat co-ops where you can buy a chicken or part of an animal, see it schechted, and take it from farm to table. Back to basics, folks.

I also learned quite a bit about what Fair Trade really means, how it works, and how it fails farmers. The thing about Fair Trade is that the contract is great for farmers when the market is average and/or below average. It guarantees that the farmer will have a livable wage, no matter what the economy does. But when the coffee market is good -- like now -- farmers don't see anymore cash in their pockets because of the Fair Trade contract. So it's good to buy Fair Trade, but it's not always the most cost-efficient for actual farmers. Also, discovered that it takes more than 80 beans to make a doubleshot of espresso, so think about that person picking those beans the next time you order your latte and how much work they put in (picking all those beans by hand, of course).
The four Jewish dudes.

And then there's the fact that there's an undercurrent of awesome, outstanding, passionate Jewish dudes running some of the most popular restaurants in Denver and Boulder. (Of course, none of them are kosher or vegetarian ...) Four Jewish fellas who run restaurants that focus on locally grown produce, ethically sourced meat, and conscious efforts to recycle, compost, and more. Also? One of the restaurant owners, Josh Wolkon, even created multiple separate menus for various allergies. Talk about smart. And I got to meet Etai Baron of Udi's Gluten Free, and I got to tell him how happy and thankful I am for his biz. I also managed to maybe convince the awesome restauranteurs to consider a kosher food truck for Boulder/Denver. If that is one of the amazing things to come out of the Hazon food conference, then I'd say it was successful.

I made a lot of really great connections, and I spent some time getting to know some folks from the Boulder community.

And, I'm very seriously considering moving to Boulder. The religious community there is more my speed, the people and lifestyle seem be more my speed, and, well, there's just something about Boulder that sings to me. More than Denver. So we'll see about that. My lease isn't up until October, but I'm planning.

Don't worry, I'll still work in Denver.

And then? Amelia and I walked around the Pearl Street Mall where there were the most amazing, tall, colorful tulips. I couldn't help but take five million photos.

Until next time ...