If you’re interested in seeing what types of sessions are being offered at the Food Conference out in Sonoma County you can see the program here.
the following is a guest post by Andy Green, a student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and first-time participant of a Hazon Food Conference, who has shared some of his experiences at the conference currently in progress.
Yesterday afternoon, following our over seven hour carpool from Los
Angeles, we arrived at Walker Creek Ranch for the 5th annual Hazon
Food Conference West at the gorgeous Walker Creek Ranch in Northern
California.
We were greeted by friendly Hazon staffers and participants, provided
with schedules, snacks (including outstanding pineapple ginger
kombucha), and a short amount of time to unpack before the conference
began. An impromptu mincha minyan commenced to enable a participant to
recite kaddish.
For the first session, I briefly visited the babka making class where
I picked up the babka recipe, before heading over to the Fermentation
session. The babka class is making babka that will be ready for
dessert tonight (for our Shabbat evening meal.)

At the fermentation session, enthusiast Blair Nosan discussed and
demonstrated basic pickling of cucumbers. Then since they are out of
season, we prepared fresh cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger, and hot
peppers to pickle a homemade kimchi. Each of us had received a jar for
pickling if we like, so I now how some kimchi in the works. Also, I
learnt that when fermenting, mold growth often does not disrupt or
damage the food being pickled; years ago, I once threw away my first
fermentation experiment (pickled sliced fennel root with thyme) when
it began to grow mold atop the liquid…
This was followed by a delicious dinner of quinoa, beans, kale,
olive-feta focaccia, spinach pomegranate salad, and fresh kiwi and
persimmon. After dinner we davenned ma’ariv, we participated in the
food conference orientation and welcome session in which conference
organizers had participants sing “ha’azorim bedima berina yiktzoru”
(those who plant in tears will reap in joy — psalms 126:5) and discuss in
small groups this prompt:
“Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai said… If you have a sapling in your hand,
and someone says to you that the Messiah has come, stay and complete
the planting, and then go out and greet the Messiah. (Avot de Rabbi
Natan 31b) ” What do you understand this to mean? What seeds or
saplings are you planting in your life and in the world right now?
After small discussions, fifteen or so individuals shared publicly
with the entire group as to what seeds in the world they were
planting. I was impressed and inspired by my fellow participants…
Next, I joined a many of these participants in singing by the campfire
before heading to bed.
—–
This morning began with shacharit and breakfast of yogurt, granola,
and some frittata. I headed to Rabbi Iris Richman’s session on her
work with Magen Tzedek, and the challenges of developing standards and
investigating products for a hecksher indicating ethical kashrut in
the treatment of labor, animals, and environment. We also discussed
the Tav HaYosher program of Uri l’Tzedek certifying businesses for
ethical treatment of workers.
Next, I attended a panel discussion regarding changing paradigms of
Kashrut. One of the panelists, Rabbi Elisheva Brenner of Pueblo,
Colorado, impressed me with her “eco-glatt” terminology, which she
uses to indicate that the meat she raises is both kosher to the
strictest standards and ecologically ethical to the highest standards.
After this session, I headed to lunch. Lunch included salad, rice
(white in one buffet and brown in the other), grilled vegetables, and
lentil soup. I sat at a table reserved for those interest in silent
eating to promote mindfulness in consumption. I began the meal with an
intention to savor each bite and pause as I ate. Sometimes I succeeded
in this and other times I caught myself losing that train of thought
and intention. I found the experience incredibly powerful, further
amplified when a long-time friend sat across from me and we shared a
meal together in silence.
…next session in five minutes…