Eat, Be Satisfied, and Bless: Food

Offering guests a special meal is often at the heart of a celebration — and it presents a particularly powerful opportunity to make purchases that reflect Jewish values. You, your guests, or the venue you are using may require that the food served carry a hekhsher/kosher certification verifying that it was produced according to Jewish dietary laws. Whether or not that is the case, consider extending the Jewish tradition of sanctifying food choices by incorporating environmental and social considerations into your meal, in observance of “eco-kashrut,” the idea that Jews can bring environmental and ethical considerations, along with ritual considerations, to their decisions of what is kasher/fit to eat. Throughout the section that follows, vendors and products marked with an (H) carry a kosher certification.


Consider hiring an employment program caterer

Several local caterers train and employ low-income people. Hiring these caterers supports people who are working to learn culinary skills and to lift themselves out of poverty. None of the three below are kosher-certified.

Delancey Street Foundation
, (415.512.5153/323.662.4888), in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, provides rehabilitation, such as employment opportunities, for substance abusers, ex-convicts, and the homeless.

San Francisco Day Labor Program/La Raza Centro Legal, (415.252.5375), helps provide opportunities for immigrant workers.

Rubicon Bakery, (510.234.3417), is part of the nonprofit organization Rubicon Programs, which helps individuals in the Bay Area overcome economic and social hurdles. Rubicon provides housing, training, employment, and social services to people in need, empowering people to improve their quality of life.

Mama’s Hot Tamales, (213.487.7474), trains low- and moderate-income residents living within the central region of Los Angeles. Their delicious tamales also support their economic skills-building programs.

Consider a vegetarian meal
Eating lower on the food chain is a very powerful way to reduce the environmental impact of your celebration. The more meat we eat, the more grain is required to feed the animals that provide that meat, and the more water and land are used to grow that grain, and the more energy is necessary to harvest it and run the slaughterhouses. We save all of those resources and their related emissions by eating grains and other plants directly. You can ask most caterers to serve a dairy or vegetarian meal; or, find a list of Bay Area vegetarian and vegan caterers at

Consider organic and local food

Even a caterer who does not buy exclusively organic or local food may be willing to source some produce for your meal this way. Ask, and explain, why local and organic food is important to you. For a directory of organic catering companies, try the Buying Guide provided on the website of the Organic Consumers Association,

Look for pastured, organic meat
If you do decide to serve meat at your celebration, consider implementing the principle of tza’ar ba’alei chayyim/kindness to animals by purchasing meat from animals raised locally and naturally rather than in confined factory farms.
  • Wise Organic Pastures, (718.596.0400), provides an online reference for finding local businesses selling certified kosher, organic, grass-fed meat. Contact 
  • If you do not need the meat for your celebration to be hekhshered/kosher certified, look for a farmers’ market offering pastured organic meats. Search by zip code at, or find a list of local markets organized by FRESHFARM at

The following businesses and organizations are all eco-conscious and strive to use local, organic, and ethical ingredients whenever possible.

Bay Area Catering:

Hugh Groman Catering
, (510.647.5165), is an Alameda County Green Certified business.

Savory and Sweet Catering
, (408.245.4712), is Green Certified in Santa Clara County

Back to Earth Organic Catering
in Berkeley, (510.652.2000), only uses sustainable and organic foods ingredients, biodiesel vehicles for delivery, and never uses disposable products for events.

Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, (510.848.DELI), offers “Old Country”-style deli food, with a commitment to using sustainable, ethical meat and fish and locally-grown produce. Certified as a Bay Area Green Business, Saul’s offers catering services with delivery.

Global Gourmet Catering, (415.701.0001), is a San Francisco Green Business featuring seasonal organic, natural and sustainably farmed local produce, meats and seafood.

Los Angeles Area Catering:

Got Kosher?,  (310.858.3123), has ethical catering options.  

The South Central Farmers, (800.249.5240), a co-op consisting of Latino and indigenous people displaced from Los Angeles’s famous South Central Farm, has a CSA service that can be recommended to a caterer or used as ingredients in your meal.

Madeleine Bistro, (818.758.6971), specializes in organic, healthful, vegan cuisine. They are an eco-conscious company that partners with green vendors and services, and are committed to providing an excellent experience when catering your event.

Primal Alchemy, (562.400.5659), is a catering company devoted to sustainability.  Their menus include only seasonal, locally-grown food and sustainable meats, and are custom-designed for each event.

Jennie Cooks, (323.982.0052), is devoted to using locally-grown, organic produce as well as sustainable tableware, and offers a wide range of vegan options.

Eco Caters, (310.728.6005), based in Culver City, uses only organic foods purchased from farms using fair trade practices. Additionally, they use only biodegradable products for serving, and can tailor menus to any diet or restrictions, including vegan and kosher.

Find Green & Just Wine or Beer
Look for Fair Trade Certified™ Coffee, Tea, Sugar & Chocolate
Ask the caterer if they would be willing to offer coffee service items that are Fair Trade Certified™. Purchasing these items helps to ensure that producer cooperatives in developing countries can support their families and improve their communities.

(H) Many brands of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee and tea are available with a hekhsher/kosher certification: find them in the National Green Pages™,

Equal Exchange, (774.776.7400), offers Fair Trade Certified™ organic sugar packets.

(H) American Jewish World Service and Equal Exchange have teamed up to bring you Better Beans. Kosher Fair Trade coffee, cocoa, and chocolate are available through the Equal Exchange Interfaith Store, (774.776.7366).

Plan ahead to minimize food waste from your celebration
Donate leftover food, recycle cans and bottles, and compost food waste: see Leftovers and Cleaning Up.

The term “eco-kashrut” was coined in the 1970’s by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

“What is eco-kosher? Are tomatoes that have been grown by drenching the earth in pesticides ‘kosher’ to eat at the synagogue’s next wedding reception?”
—Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Eco-Kosher Project
“The wedding dinner was served on China but all cocktails and all the camping food was served on sugar based paper and "plastic" dishes that are compostable and biodegrade within 90 days.” – Rachel Bello, Los Angeles

“We used a caterer who uses local, organic food and ingredients. We gave her flexibility so that she could also create a menu using seasonal selections.” – Natalie Stern, Rockridge

Have suggestions? Real-life stories using these or other ideas? Please share them with us for future versions of the Guide!