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July 2, 2012

JEWISH GROUP BIKES ACROSS U.S. FOR FOOD JUSTICE

A group of Jewish cyclists are pedaling across the country this summer to raise awareness about sustainable farming and healthy food systems. Along the way, they’ll meet with sustainable farmers and with 70 Jewish communities, where they’ll pass on what they’ve learned about sustainable farming.

The trip began June 10 in Seattle and will end Aug. 15 in Washington, D.C., where the participants will deliver a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling on the government to make healthy food systems a priority.

“This ride combines three of my major passions: Judaism, sustainable food and agriculture/environment and cycling,” Adi Segal, 23, of Bergenfield, N.J. told JTA, a Jewish and Israeli news service. “So I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer than to raise money and awareness for this cause and by riding across the country for it.”

Bergenfield is one of 11 Jews participating in the 10-week cross-country ride, called Hazon Cross-USA Ride.

The Hazon ride’s focus on food systems illustrates a growing advocacy effort in the Jewish community centered around food justice. Hazon’s executive director, Nigel Savage, told JTA that their mission is all about “health, sustainability, local food, organic food, traditional issues around kashrut.”

“We also want to ask what would it look like if the highest Jewish standards were applied to food systems in North America,” he told the Jewish news service.

Last month, Hazon was among seven national Jewish groups that delivered a petition to the Obama administration with nearly 19,000 signatures demanding that the government focus on food justice in the farm bill, JTA reports. The U.S. Senate has since passed a version of the bill that does not include full funding food stamps, an issue that the Jewish organizations had supported in their petition. The House has yet to vote on the farm bill.

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