Confessions from a Food Conference Participant

We asked participants from the first annual Shoresh Food Conference to share their experiences with us. Posted below is an articulate, thoughtful and inspiring piece by Daniel Joseph.

Thanks Daniel!

I took the stairs to the third floor at the Miles Nadal. Eschewing the elevator with a smug green smile and shortness of breath, I walked up to the Shoresh Food Conference. As I opened the door, I was greeted with the strong ruach chaim of energetic conference attendees and the bustling of staff making final preparations. It seemed that every corner was buzzing with something new to stimulate my curiosity (and appetite). I filled up my mug with chai tea, and began absorbing information and the great atmosphere. It was nice to be around like minded people who value ethical, good quality food, and want to create change.

The conference sessions ranged from dairy to meat, ethics to praxis, and everything in between. I learned about the use of rennet in the coagulation process of cheese, kashrut laws relating to rennet, and that the main vegetarian alternative to rennet is a GMO product. Shocking! Ruth Klahsen of Montforte Dairy and Rabbi Aaron Levy of Makom provided a very informative dialogue on the intersection of kashrut and cheesemaking. The session also included a discussion on why we don't have organic kosher cheeses at the ready in our fridges. Perhaps someday soon we may merit such cheeses!

The theme of bringing organic kosher products to the market came up again in the session titled, “Is Kosher Meat Fit to Eat?” This session yielded an intense discussion centred upon the difficulties in bringing organic, local, sustainable kosher meat to the market. Participants and panel members volleyed back and forth on a variety of issues, and with no end in sight, the session concluded with the creation of a sign up sheet for those who wished to continue the conversation. A big thank you to Jonathan Abrahams from the Healthy Butcher and Aaron Gross from Farm Forward for being amazing panel members and helping to facilitate such an informative discussion.

At the closing ceremony I felt a heightened awareness of the many unknowns that stand between our current situation and an ideal future. I also felt a sense of unity and determination to carry the momentum forwards into the Toronto Jewish community. Can't wait until next year's conference – see you then!