Beginning the season

Jewish Food Jewish Life: Practicality vs. Deliciousness

Eve Quarrendon Jochnowitz

Member Tuv Ha’Aretz Hazon CSA at the 14th Street Y in New York City


In this week’s (6/20/09) sedre, shelakh-lekha we read the famous story of the spies sent by Moses to reconnoiter the land of Israel.  The accounts brought back are not contradictory but they highlight two very different but equally accurate views of the situation: first, that it is unlikely that a rag-tag group of desert-bedraggled wanderers could overthrow an entrenched military power, and second, the produce there is just so good, you have to try it!  The Israelites faced with the two reports contemplate a seemingly impossible undertaking that might yield up some really good food. In a way, this story is the mirror image of the episode in last week’s parshe, in which the flavorful vegetables of Egypt are remembered in the context of the seemingly endless and impossible sojourn in the desert.


But challenging undertakings are by no means as impossible or impractical as they seem before you try.  It is hard to believe now, but people my age will recall that for decades organic agriculture was dismissed as impractical, inefficient, and an actual threat to the world food supply because of lower yield.  The opposite has proved to be the case as the careful land-management by organic farmers like our CSA partners has in fact resulted in more food (and vastly more delicious food) produced on sustainably cultivated land. 

The giant, fat, juicy, fragrant, and irresistible grapes carried back by the spies tell their story more eloquently than any words:  Strive for deliciousness and accomplish the impossible.