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Pardes Yehuda: All who are hungry, come and eat...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All who are hungry, come and eat...

This famous phrase from our Haggadah (Passover ritual book) highlights an aspect of Jewish culture that is all but lost in our 21st century. In the ancient Jewish world there were two institutions to ensure that all were fed: the tamchui, the communal meal plate; and the kuppah, the communal fund. Today these institutions have been replaced by the occasional soup kitchen and fund raising campaigns, but the replacements do not provide the same service as the original.
Yet, there are those acting now and creating a model of an alternative to the profit-driven food market.

We are in a world of soaring food costs largely propelled by the increase in the cost of oil which is the foundation of shipping food around the world. As costs rise, individuals like you and me can feel it in our pocket books--and if you'd made serious changes, in your belly too.

Let's play a game. We're going to imagine a wonderful place, a restaurant that could only be the product of dreams. Imagine a place that serves fresh, organic, local foods; where the menu is never set but constantly changing based on the whims of the chef and the availability of the local farmers' market. Imagine that at the end of your scrumptious meal, you get your bill, and the total reads "Pay what you'd like!"

Impossible, you think! Unlikely, you dismiss! I retort, it is possible and it is real, and what's more... you have two options!

The SAME (read: So All May Eat) and the One World Cafe's are two examples which I have encountered of people making a real difference in the availability of fresh, organic, local foods and reasonable prices (unless you choose to pay an arm and a leg!). Both feature similar concepts: No set menu, no set price--the only thing set is that you're sure to get delicious, nutritious, fresh, organic and local food. They will also take your labor as payment, instead of money. Like in the old TV shows and movies; can't pay or the meal? Wash some dishes instead!

SAME Cafe is located in Denver, CO and was founded by Brad and Libby Birky, the One World Cafe, founded by Denise Cerreta, is located in Salt Lake City, UT.

I have never been to either of these places (as I've never been to Salt Lake City and not been to Denver in years and years) but I will make a point to go if I find myself near either of them. What they provide is not just delicious food at the price you want to pay; they also act as a model for ways to provide sustenance and support and not be profit driven. That being said, according to their website, One World has experienced steady growth since their opening. Support them with your money, support them with your love and prayers, support them however you can. One thing is sure, these two places are a dream come true!

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