Food Inc. Screening and Discussion
Earlier in the day, the Forest Hills Jewish Center's Tuv Ha'aretz/CSA hosted a screening of Food Inc. In addition to showing the hideous animal welfare conditions in factory farms, Food Inc. discusses food safety, human health, environmental, and economic considerations. It features commentary from such heavy-hitters as Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.
Following the film, holistic health counselor Jackie Topol and I led a spirited discussion about issues raised in the movie, in part through a Jewish lens. There was no need for us to stand up and lecture, though, as the attendees clearly had a good foundation of knowledge, discussing the AgriProcessors scandal and tsa'ar ba'alei chayim before Jackie or I brought them up.
One attendee said that while she sees the need to make dietary changes and has largely done so for her family, she still struggles with the idea of getting away from chicken soup and other traditional Jewish foods on Shabbat. I had a three-prong response for her. First, I recommended transitioning to vegetarian eating gradually, in order to avoid the confusion that goes along with abrupt changes to longstanding routines. Second, I contended that when people truly grapple with these issues and realize reprehensible bad factory-farming is, for example, they will feel compelled to react with passion and conviction that outweigh the comfort of routine. Finally, I referred back to the example that Jonathan Safran Foer used in the opening chapter of Eating Animals and his essay in The New York Times Magazine, which shows that letting our consciences guide our eating habits is consistent with kashrut and tradition.