Monday, May 10, 2010

Healthy social responsbility

Eating a healthy meal does not start in the kitchen with grilling chicken and cutting up vegetables for a salad. Eating a healthy meal starts with social responsibility.
Social responsibility is an integral part of living a healthy Jewish life. If the world we live in is not a healthy place then it is impossible for us to ever be truly healthy.  Food does not grow on shelves at the supermarket; rather, there are people, pieces of land, and complex processes that are involved in bringing food to our plates.  As Jews we must come to understand the multifaceted ethical implications that our food choices have in our lives and in the life of the land and the people involved in supplying our food.
            Tzedaka is part of the universal language of Jewish social responsibility.  However, tzedaka is not restricted to giving money and donating time.  The Torah links agricultural production to social justice and establishes the importance of health and wholesomeness in Judaism, thereby elevating the act of feeding the hungry to a holy level.  “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger” (Leviticus 19:9-10). 
Although most of us are not farmers and cannot strictly abide by this concept, it provides an interesting way of looking at our food.  Everything we have and everything we eat is not necessarily our own; part of what we have belongs to those who have not, as a means of balancing out our bounty.  If we consider those who may not be able to provide for themselves every time we produce or eat a food we create a healthier world for all in the future. 
This idea is relatively easy to put into practice in every day life.  Perhaps every time you go to the grocery store you can buy one extra non-perishable item to give to a local food pantry.  Or you can take your leftovers from a meal and give them to someone in need of nourishment or carry an extra apple in your bag for someone who may need it.  Finding a way to reserve some of what you have for someone who is in need balances out social inequality and helps to build a healthier Jewish life for you and the world around you.
            I’ve included a recipe below that can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled so that you can share your bounty.
(This is the first in a series of posts on food and social responsibility)

Turkey Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, diced
4 small carrots, diced
2 lbs ground turkey
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon worschetire sauce
1 ¼ cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup frozen peas

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, turkey, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until the turkey is cooked through and the vegetables soften and brown.  Add the flour and coat the turkey mixture.  Add the tomato paste, worschestire sauce and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer 1 minute and season with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat and add the peas.

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup soymilk
1 tablespoon canola oil 
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water until they are fork tender.  Drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot.  Add the soymilk, oil, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  Mash until you get a smooth consistency.

Pour the turkey filling into an 8 x 12 casserole dish and spread the potatoes evenly over top.  Make cross hatches with a fork in the potatoes.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly crisp.  (1 casserole serves 8 people)

Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamin A, which is good for your immune system, your eyes and your skin, and potassium, which helps with muscle growth and water balance in the body.  Ground turkey is an excellent lean alternative to ground beef and is especially high in selenium, which is an important antioxidant.

1 comment:

  1. Another beautiful entry. Eating food is not a right, it's a privilege and it comes with the responsibility of sharing with others.