Jewish & Fish (but not as a combination)

What’s going on in my food life? Well let’s see. I think I’ll start out by giving you a contextual look into my academic life. Right now, three of my four classes deal with either environmental or food, or a combination of both. My current class roster yields economic, environmental and personal feelings toward the food system. Most directly related to this section of the class is my curriculum in my History and Culture of Jewish Cuisine. In that class we dig into what it means to eat the food that we do, what attracts us to buying that food, and what personal or social institutions lead us to purchase or eat food in any certain manner. Coming from a Christian background it’s been very interesting to learn about the details of, Kashrut, or the dietary laws of the Jewish community. It really affects where they get food from, and what they put in their mouth. With the amount of limitations they have on their foods because of the laws, it is in my opinion that they are more likely to ‘organic’ then other people. I find this dynamic interesting that a whole religious population could help fund a movement in organics or local buying because of the laws they abide by. For example, there are certain ways that something must be cooked, therefore they usually purchase food items and make it from scratch. Often times, because fast food kitchens are not kosher, members of the Jewish community do not eat out. Instead, they buy from local owners of farms and restaurants because they know and trust where there food is coming from. My question is, how can we develop these religious dietary laws into someone’s life who is not practicing Judaism?

In the article I found on Grist, there is new discourse among fisheries. It is the ideology of feeding fish a vegetarian diet rather than fishmeal or fish oils. The argument stems from the idea that there is a trajectory of people eating more farm-raised fish then wild caught. This seems to make people think more about what the fish are eating and what is then going into the consumers’ body. The statistic in the article shows that even 5 years ago the average farm raised fish was fed almost 50% cornmeal. Now, they said it is in the teens. This is a definite turn in industry and makes the eating of farm-raised rather than wild caught feel much better. I like this article, because I like the idea of fish eating other natural things rather than their same species. I’m attracted specifically from a quote from bioethicist in the article that states, “If the fish thrive on this diet, don’t get sick, haven’t experienced a shortened life span or problems in reproduction, then I don’t see it as an issue. With cattle, a certain percentage develop abscesses that involved suffering and condemnation of the carcass, so you might ask yourself, if it causes that, why do people do it? Because it’s only one in 10,000. I have no idea about the health of a [carnivorous] fish [on a plant-based diet], but if there is a negative effect, even if it’s justified by economic activity, then it’s a moral issue.” For me, as an non-economics person, helps me to better understand the negative and positive expectations that consumers have of their food.

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