Rural farms dot the landscape that Rosalind Cohen passes on her drive to work every day, from her home in the Poconos to her job as an administrative assistant at United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey in Whippany.
One day in early April she was struck by an idea: Considering the vast quantity of eggs many Jews consume during Passover, perhaps her colleagues might prefer farm-fresh, free-range eggs.
A week later, she was delivering 21 cartons — at $2.50 a dozen — from Serene Horse Farm in Branchville, NJ, to workers on the Aidekman campus.
Although known for training horses, the farm also offers free-range eggs.
“I want to help the local farmer and thought it would be nice for everyone at work to have the opportunity for Passover or the Easter holiday to get farm-fresh eggs…,” Cohen told NJJN.
The eggs look nothing like those from the grocery store. Brown eggs sit next to white. Unlike the supermarket variety, they vary in size, and inside, they are yolkier — producing a different, edgier flavor when scrambled.
Within a couple of days of that first delivery, nearly all of Cohen’s initial 18 “customers” had signed up for an encore.
She may have just been acting like a good colleague and neighbor, but her deliveries mesh with a national trend for “locavore” buying and eating. The Jewish environmental group Hazon is promoting local, sustainable farming through the first Jewish Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in North America. Participants in the CSA program at JCC MetroWest pick up deliveries of organic produce grown at a New Jersey farm at the West Orange facility.
“By using eggs that come from a farm where you know the farmer and the conditions the chickens were raised,” said Judith Belasco, director of food programs at Hazon, “it allows for a conversation at your seder table about what modern sacrifices and harm we cause the land, the animals, the works when we support an industrialized food system.”
Buying locally sourced produce helps people “recognize that we are able to make different choices, ones that support a healthy, sustainable food system by buying our eggs from small-scale, local farmers or even our neighbors who raise them in the backyard,” Belasco said.