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Published Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jewish Food Featured at Boston Conference

By Mary Markos

Meal prep at the 2015 Boston Jewish Food Conference

The Boston Jewish Food Conference, an annual springtime event that gathers a sizable community of those interested in learning about Jewish culture, takes place next month in Newton.

This year, the conference focuses on how the industrial age of food successfully feeds millions of people yet lacks transparency regarding issues like quality and healthfulness. Co-founder and Director of Beantown Jewish Gardens, Leora Mallach, said that, “the conference is an opportunity for folks to come together to talk about Jewish food and agriculture.”

Beantown Jewish Gardens, responsible for creating the BJFC, builds the community through experiential food and agriculture education rooted in the Jewish culture. The first BJFC, held in 2012, was founded to pull together people with a shared interest in food, agriculture, and the Jewish tradition. It was scheduled in springtime, according to Mallach, “to kick off the growing season together as a Jewish community.”

This year’s BJFC has an extensive 16 workshops lined-up, including topics such as “Beautiful, Beautiful, Borscht,” “Using Our Forks to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint,” “Learn How to Dine Out with Your Values,” “Transparency in the Fish Supply Chain,” “Labeling foods containing GMOs in MA: A Case Study in Judaism, Ethics, and New Technology,” and more. In an effort to teach the community about proper nourishment, the BJFC will examine the people, places, and systems that supply America with food. “I know that when people come to the conference they are impressed with the depth of the workshop and the thought that goes into it,” said Mallach.

The conference is being held on Sunday, April 3, 2016, at the Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton Centre from noon-7 p.m. It is an opportunity to learn about agriculture, labor issues, health, food access, kashrut and local food history. According to Mallach, the Jewish food community, including anyone who eats kosher, who is conscious and intentional about what foods they consume and how that might influence or be influenced by Jewish values, will have the chance to come together and learn at the BJFC.

The best part of the day, says Mallach, has to do with learning how to make things like sauerkraut and ice cream, and – of course – eating. “At the end of the day, we cook a meal, and everybody comes together for a marketplace where we serve the meal.”

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