[by Phyllis Shaikun]
When Karyn Moskowitz moved to Louisville in 2007, she brought her passion for preserving the environment with her along with a desire to help local grassroots environmental efforts reach their goals. But it was the diet-related illnesses she saw in children, especially those who were living in areas of Louisville without access to fresh fruits and vegetable, that affected her more than any other issue. This inspired her to found New Roots in April of 2008 with a mission to develop a just and thriving food system in the Louisville metro area.
Moskowitz and her group are achieving their goals by improving education and helping urban residents connect with local and regional farmers through the Fresh Stop Project. New Roots is currently partnering a church and community center in the Shawnee and Newburg neighborhoods with three different farmers who have agreed to sell fresh local produce to them at a reasonable cost (food stamps are accepted). Fresh foods will be available for sale twice monthly from June through October, along with healthy eating and leadership development classes.
Moskowitz has gained some positive recognition for her work. In 2008 and 2010, she was a food justice delegate representing Kentucky at an international conference where she and 7,000 others had the chance to meet with farmers, students and chefs. In 2010, she was profiled by Jewish Woman magazine as one of a handful of women highly involved in the “green movement” in America. She was invited to speak at her first Hazon (Jewish food movement) Conference in Monterey, CA, in 2008 and has been invited back twice since to discuss New Roots’ work in Louisville.
When it was founded in 2000, Hazon redefined kosher from a social justice standpoint that considers environmental factors as well as the humane treatment of animals and the land. Their focus is on advocacy, action and education and the movement is growing. Moskowitz was one of more than 550 Jewish food activists to attend the most recent Hazon Conference in California in December 2010 (with support from a Jewish Hospital HealthCare Service’s Community Excellence Grant). Hazon’s Executive Director Nigel Savage called Moskowitz’s presentation “one of the highlights” of this year’s conference.
“The conference truly attracts people with varied interests,” Moskowitz reports, including a number of Do it Yourself-type Jews who coach others on how to prepare healthy meals, promote eating wholesome foods and preserve the Jewish food culture as well. She learned that many new young Jewish farmer training programs are functioning on both coasts along with Jewish/Environmental Intentional Communities (like Kibbutzim). An Eco-kashrut program is also being developed. “I would say,” she concluded, “that many Jews who want to eat kosher but also desire food that is locally-grown and organic have sought out farmers, both local and outside of their area, to meet those needs.
She was able, with the support of her synagogue and New Roots to hold a Hunger Awareness Weekend at Keneseth Israel the weekend of February 18-20 The program attracted an audience of more than 75 students and members of the community.
For more information about the Jewish food movement and the work of New Roots, you can contact Moskowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.