Cooking shouldn’t kill!

Combodia Visit

I love travelling and I am so glad that my profession grants me an opportunity to do so. I am currently in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, staying at the gorgeous Hotel Phnom Penh. It is one of the most beautiful properties I have had the chance to visit. Cambodia is a glorious Country, with a dark past. It is still recovering from the consequences of the Khmer Rouge regime when millions of people lost their lives due to hunger, forced labor and the political atrocities by a series of dictators belonging to the Khmer Rouge Communist Party. Now however, Cambodia is on its way to development, social and political. However, my visit to this beautiful city is not for recreational purposes. I am here to be a part of a social initiative called The Alliance Chef Corps.

Most of you must be wondering what this is. Well, this is a part of a larger initiative called “The global alliance for clean cook stoves”. The Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves is a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The alliances’ main goal calls for 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient cook stoves and fuels by 2020. To ensure this, it is working on all aspects to ensure that cooking is done in safe and sanitary conditions all around the world. Better understanding of the cooking methods worldwide, conducting market research, recognizing barriers that come in the way of healthy and safe cooking, convening national organizations in workshops, understanding the government’s role, and more.

The overall objective of the Alliance Chef Corps is to position the issue of clean cook stoves and fuels with global and country-specific audiences. My association with The Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves started off when I got a tweet from my friend, Chef Andre Jose a few months back. Eventually he told me more about it. The facts and statistics about people losing their lives and being subjected to deadly diseases because of the harmful methods of cooking, took me aback. I had to be a part of this! As a chef, I love cooking. So it is extremely disturbing for me to learn that in my country itself lacs of people die every year because of something as basic as cooking. Primitive methods of cooking like the choolha and using firewood to cook food result in health and environmental hazards. In most cases it is the women who do all the cooking, completely unaware that a simple act of preparing a meal could poison or even kill them or their loved ones.

Chef Jose Andres, took his passion for increased food security, improved global health and greater access to clean cooking solutions and convened Chefs Susan Kamau of Kenya, Luu Meng of Cambodia and Myself from India to announce the creation of the Alliance Chef Corps. It is amazing for a chef to be associated with a cause like this. Cooking food brings me immense joy and I hate to think that something so joyous can also be so harmful to such a large population. We hope to gather in more chefs to be a part of this initiative. The key is to bring about awareness and this is only possible if we reach out to people in different parts of the world. For more details visit the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Nelson Mandela once said “to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” I think, cooking food in safe and non-hazardous conditions is one of the most basic needs that we can provide to people who are less fortunate than us. Looking forward to the next two days so I can learn more about safety cooking and do my bit to ensure that cooking shouldn’t kill!

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

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