Changing How the Developing World Cooks

As some of the world’s top chefs and leading innovators converge in Silicon Valley to explore the nexus of food and technology at the inaugural BITE Conference, millions of people in developing countries will be cooking their families’ food just as our ancestors did thousands of years ago – over an open fire, burning dung, coal and wood for fuel.


Cooking this way is a silent killer. The toxic pollution from these fires kills 10,000 people every day, according to the World Health Organization. Beyond the enormous health toll, this method of meal preparation carries a large ecological burden; related deforestation is vast, and the emissions from the combustion of unsustainably harvested wood fuel alone accounts for roughly 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions and up to 25% of the world’s black carbon emissions. There’s also a massive gender burden, with girls and women spending a significant portion of their day gathering fuel, not to mention breathing in damaging amounts of carcinogenic smoke as they cook.

Fortunately, a clean cooking movement is gaining ground led by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, its 1,200 diverse partners, and its Chef Corps, who are all working to raise the visibility of and develop solutions to this global scourge. Thanks to technological advances in stove design, increased efforts to boost access to clean fuels, development of standards and testing, and greater investment in market-based approaches, the Alliance has helped more than 20 million households adopt cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels in the past four years alone.

Yet, while momentum is building, diseases caused by smoke from rudimentary cookstoves still claim 4.3 million lives every year – a toll much larger than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. More must be done to spur innovation, increase investment, build awareness, and change dangerous behaviors that have been part of too many cultures for millennia.

Source: Huffington Post

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