Kosher, Part III: Real People, Real Food: Dr. Roxanne Sukol

My first “testimonial” for this kashrut (kosher) series is none other than Dr. Roxanne Sukol, physician extraordinaire!  She is board-certified in Internal Medicine, and is an expert on health and wellness in today’s crazy world of fast food and even faster-growing waistlines and blood-sugar levels.  She writes the blog, “Your Health is on Your Plate“, and she can also whip up a tasty, seasonal, healthy meal faster than you can say “angina”.  Her are her thoughts on food, eating, and how that intertwines with her faith:

How do I bring Jewish meaning to food and eating, and how did I become interested in nutrition? The answer lies not in me, but in my roots.

My parents, still hale and hearty in their late 70’s, have been raising mostly-grass-fed beef on their small farm in northwest NJ since 1973. Last year, I am proud to report, they made a remarkable ground-beef donation of 300 lbs. to the local food bank. Their large, 1/2-acre garden clearly produces much more than the two of them can eat, and they regularly take extras to the food bank. My mom oversees a much smaller garden at the local synagogue, all of whose produce also goes to the food bank. I call it their “synagarden.” To me, the connections among eating, nutrition, Judaism, and ethical behavior are, and always have been, seamless.

As a physician who daily witnesses the ravaging effects of the standard American diet, and knowing what we know now about the preventability of these illnesses, I work from the belief that prevention is the most ethical approach to treatment.

My desire to eat real food, and to procure and prepare for my family fresh vegetables and fruit, legumes and whole grains, and meat from animals raised on what nature intended, exists not as a formal set of behaviors, but as a basic orientation within me.

For 20 consecutive years, my family has celebrated Sukkot by traveling to the same local farm to harvest corn stalks. Growing old enough to use the machete is actually a right of passage in our home. Annually, our own garden’s harvest is spread out on the kitchen counters as we all take pride in the fruits of our labors.

So I continue to plant parsley and dig horseradish root from my “Passover Garden.” I have written and published in the Jewish Daily Forward about the urgent and heart-breaking problem of trans fat in pareve foods. I continue the work of my parents and theirs, linking together the seasons and holidays, health and nutrition, and food and flavors!

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