Fighting climate change, one meal at a time
19 Jun 2017 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UN Goodwill Ambassadors
The kitchen has always been the most important part of the house for us – it is where we played as brothers growing up in Girona, Spain, where we did our homework as our mother prepared her lamb and tomato stews, and where we first discovered our love of food and cooking. These days, it is a place where we combine our passion, family, and work as we run our restaurant together.
The kitchen is also the perfect starting point for making more than meals – it’s a place where we truly believe everyone can make a difference. By making informed food choices, using sustainable cooking methods and reducing food waste, each of us can ensure that as we nourish our bodies, we are also nurturing our planet. We are what we eat.
So in November, as the world came together with the historic Paris Agreement, we thought about what we could do to honor this commitment to our planet from the place we know best - the kitchen. Recognizing that how we cook affects our world, we teamed up with the Sustainable Development Goals Fund to launch a humble campaign based on a simple premise that each one of us can help tackle climate change, right from the kitchen. We invited people to prepare meals using sustainable cooking challenges. More than 200 people from 20 countries shared their recipes. They gave us great ideas – and they gave us hope.
This is particularly needed given the recent discussions on the prospects of the landmark Paris treaty, which aims to mitigate the dangerous effects of climate change. It makes it even more imperative for all of us as individuals to fight against global warming, and there is no better place to start than the kitchen.
This 18 June marks the first international Sustainable Gastronomy Day, a time to recognize the powerful connections between food and sustainability, and rethink how we cook and eat. As chefs, we feel a responsibility to share with people how to make informed food choices, use environmentally friendly preparation methods, and limit food waste. Making even small changes in the kitchen can go a long way in helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – the world’s roadmap for tackling poverty, inequality and climate change.
Roughly a third of all food produced – about 1.3 billion tonnes – is wasted each year. In the United States, food waste accounts for up to 40 percent of the total food supply; this has a negative impact on food security, resource conservation, and climate change.
There are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint, such as by planning meals in advance in order to use leftovers and limit food waste. Avoiding overconsumption is also important – not only for the waistline, but also the environment. One trick is to use smaller plates, which can help ensure you serve reasonable portions.
We can limit energy use by not pre-heating the oven and using tools such as a cast iron, ceramic or glass cookware, which retain heat well. And there are countless creative ways to use water more efficiently; for example, you can cool the water you use to boil pasta, then water your plants with it. These are just small steps but can make a big difference.
We should also strive to use locally sourced food, whether this means shopping at a local farmers market, preparing meals using only seasonal foods, or growing herbs on our windowsills, in our backyards and on our rooftops. Learning about seasonal food can translate to recipes that are tastier and more affordable, saving us money and helping boost the local economy.
The three of us are partnering with the SDG Fund and UNDP to raise awareness about these issues and help ensure everyone has access to healthy and sustainable food. The Fund is working with UN agencies in 23 countries on projects such as helping small farmers in Fiji promote organic agriculture, ensuring Peruvian farmers reap the benefits of growing demand for Andean grains such as quinoa, and coordinating with Sri Lanka’s local governments and schools to ensure children have access to necessary nutrients.
As chefs, the kitchen is where we put our passion and skills to use. We hope everyone can help us make it a frontline in the fight for our planet, one meal at a time.
This article was originally published in the Huffington Post.