“Around the world, 3 billion people cook over open fires or on rudimentary stoves. The cooking fuels used by 40 percent of humanity are wood, charcoal, animal dung, crop residues, and coal. As these burn, often inside homes or in areas with limited ventilation, they release plumes of smoke and soot liable for 4.3 million premature deaths each year.
Traditional cooking practices also produce 2 to 5 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”
—Drawdown, on Improved Clean Cookstoves
A few years back, I spent a lot of time learning about eating raw food. Many fruits and vegetables are best when eaten raw, because it preserves their nutrients and enzymes. Although some, like tomatoes, can actually be more nutritious when they are cooked. (Mmm, spaghetti sauce!)
For those of us who have an electric or natural gas stove, we don’t have to worry as much about the heavy risks of open-fire cooking. (See Smoke and Mirrors for an eye-opening look at the dangers.) Despite that open-fire cooking is harmful to the health of both people and the earth, it’s actually been fairly complicated to provide clean cookstoves that women in certain regions will actually use.
What can we do to make a difference for climate? If we already have a clean cookstove (which obviously also relies on energy), we can explore the glories of eating raw. Pro tip: many grains and beans and lentils are hard to digest if sprouted and eaten raw, and the skin of almonds is toxic in large doses, so watch out for those raw nut dip recipes! There are plenty of things we can eat raw on a daily basis, that are tried and true, from apples and berries to mesclun mix. And these will boost our health, too.
For the health of women and girls in other countries, we might consider donating to the Clean Cooking Alliance.
Write a poem to your stove, or from your stove to you. Maybe you’ve never thought much before about what it means to have the privilege of a clean cookstove. Now’s your moment! Or, write a poem about eating something raw instead of cooking it. Fruits and veggies, happily, can make the perfect raw meal!
The last time we complained
about cooking, it was not concerning
how the wood, the dung
or the coals burned themselves
into our delicate lungs.
Tonight, when we turn the knob
on our stoves, we can
remember the privilege
of a clean cookstove
and how we have the breath
to stir and say—thank you.