Crab cakes made with fonio, an ancient West African grain, or Ratatouille made with ‘imperfect’ products to reduce food waste, are just a few of the more than 70 recipes featured released recently The United Nations Support Cookbook: For People and the Planet.
The book – created in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in consultation with other UN organizations such as UNESCOThe United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), United Nations Climate Change and United Nations Global Communications Division – is the brainchild of Kitchen Connection, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that connects culinary arts, sustainability and education over the past decade, and fostering discussions about the need to transform food systems.
“Understanding that cookbook consumption is on the rise and people are using them as a source of education and inspiration, the idea of a book is always on our table,” says Kitchen founder Connection and New York University Professor Earlene Cruz, explained to UN News. .
But how is this cookbook different?
Because People and Planet divided into chapters covering food systems, biodiversity, sustainable production and consumption, climate and food waste, providing recipes, yes, but also detailed information on the carbon footprint of each dish.
“We found that people in the world’s highest-emitting countries emit about 3 kg of CO2 emissions per meal through our food choices. The recipes in this book have 58.6% less carbon than an average meal from high-emissions regions of the world. This book is dedicated to the planet,” Ms. Cruz said.
The cookbook also highlights and follows (WHO) guide to macronutrients, making recipes healthy not only for the planet but also for us.
But most of all, it highlights the importance of our food choices and how they can impact our immediate environment, no matter where we cook.
The climate cost of our food choices
Describing the quiche recipe shared by Lisa Johnson, chef of NASA scientists in Antarctica, Ms. Cruz said: “This recipe contains: [chicken] eggs, and in Antarctica, [chickens cannot] interact in any way with the penguins, so chef Lisa had to cook that part of the recipe in a completely separate facility. This shows the challenges of cooking in remote areas.”
“The point is whether we’re in the city, the suburbs or the countryside, or somewhere as far away as Antarctica, weighing our food choices and how they impact the environment directly is a challenge. Our continuity is paramount,” she added.
The book features 75 recipes along with preparation instructions as well as reflections and stories, including from indigenous communities and farmers, the origins of the world food production chain.
Contributors to the book have been brought together by Kitchen Connection, which provides an online platform for cooking classes and education.
“Activist, restaurateur and entrepreneur Kimbal Musk also lends his voice and recommends this book, so from the Sioux indigenous community to Antarctica, [it] reflect the reality of our diverse food system and inherent culinary culture. The most gratifying thing is to have seen over 200 people come together and sign up to support this cause,” emphasized Ms. Cruz.
Ska Mirriam Moteane, a chef from Lesotho, shares, for example, that a dandelion salad recipe emits 87.58% less carbon than the average meal in high-emissions countries. like the United States and China.
The dish promotes biodiversity by incorporating dandelion, a nutritious green plant that grows wild and in local fields around her own home.
Sustainability is even built into the book itself: its pages are made of sustainably sourced wood fibers.
“There will always be a climate cost to producing something like this, but we did our best, from start to finish, to make the book and its content sustainable. The book dedicated to this planet is printed on [Forest Stewardship Council]-certified sustainable paper, understanding that this is how cookbooks have traditionally been consumed in hardcover format,” explains Ms. Cruz.
Why is all this important?
Based on FAOFood systems are contributing to and affected by extreme weather events related to climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Addressing these challenges requires a systems-based approach that addresses scope and complexity in a holistic and sustainable manner. Initiatives like this cookbook aim to support response.
“We can start with questions that help us understand the journey of food: Where is it grown? Who planted it? How did it get to my disk? As aware and empowered individuals, we can work together to stick to more sustainable practices from farms and food companies, and ask our government to bold climate policy,” the founder of Kitchen Connection urges.
Ms. Cruz, who is also a member of the Civil Society Youth Representative of the United Nations Global Communications Unit, emphasizes the need to eat more locally biodiverse ingredients and reduce waste in the environment. kitchen.
“But it also needs to be delicious. So that’s why we need to reach out to activists, chefs, farmers and indigenous people who really know how to grow crops and create great recipes to help. guide us,” she added.
Celebrity chef Jose Andres, recognized for his culinary and humanitarian work, is another advocate and participant in the cookbook.
“By educating ourselves and others about how to eat better for the health of people and the planet, we can limit the number of people going hungry, by averting and averting natural disasters first. when they happen. The United Nations cookbook that supports people and the planet is a great example of that,” he said in a video message for the book launch event at the United Nations. COP27The recent United Nations climate conference was held in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.
For Earlene Cruz, nature holds the answer, because “what is good for humans is also good for the planet.”
“For example, Native Chef Rosalia Chay Chuc’s black bean recipe is the lowest-emission recipe in the book. Beans, when consumed along with other grains, provide us with a complete protein that is great for human and planetary health. They are also soft to the soil and do not require much water to grow. She explains that nature itself has provided the ‘recipe’ and the best recipe for human and planetary health.
Other contributors include Food Systems expert Dani Nierenberg, who shared a delicious recipe called Make Do Ratatouille that reduces food waste by using “imperfect ingredients” to create a “perfect dish” in the most delicious ways.
“And chef Pierre Thiam contributed a fonio recipe using a grain that was ‘rediscovered’ and has completely revived the economy of Senegalese farmers in the fonio growing area, historically the where people migrated to Europe in search of a better food. life while not realizing the riches already in the land they are fleeing,” Ms. Cruz told UN News.
The cookbook is available now at major bookstores and online retailers and can soon be purchased at the Visitor Center at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, which will also launch in 2023 as a documentary series that includes an exploration of indigenous communities. and remote areas threatened by climate change.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but when we adapt to the local context, we can really have a global impact through our food choices. “We vote by our ballot as well as by our taste,” Ms. Cruz said.
For her, the book represents the beginning rather than the end of a wonderful collaboration and contribution that she hopes will positively impact global citizens everywhere.
“We wanted the book to reach ordinary people – which is why we partnered with a traditional publisher – to get this message out of the echo chamber and into the hearts and minds of people. who may not yet know or are not (yet) interested in this book. about the strong symbiotic relationship between our food system and the planet. We don’t just want to sell books; Mrs. Cruz said.