Hailing from Sweden, Wilma Prior is a cook and a committed volunteer at Open Kitchen. On the occasion of the UN World Food Day, she tells us about the current food production and consumption process and what we do at Open Kitchen to make a positive impact.
Three billion people in the world cannot afford healthy diets, while overweight and obesity continue to increase. We have overdeveloped a fast and convenient way to get food by supporting fast-food chains and processed food companies. Fast and processed foods contain very few nutritional ingredients and are often treated with chemicals to make them taste better, look better and last longer, which is not natural. Fast food is the product of mass production, therefore it contains very few nutritional elements, while getting treated with an intent to remain addictive. As we consume food in this way, awareness is decreasing that this is not just unhealthy for us but also for the environment. Plastic containers and single-use packaging are used to package these products, which may seem convenient at the time, but they are damaging our earth in the long run. Younger generations are less likely to know how to cook at home due to this comfort factor.
Ineffective harvesting, handling, storage, and transit lead to the loss of 14 percent of food, and consumption waste is 17 percent. As this percentage is increasing in many corners of the world, the view of value in food is being weakened. Our high standards for food quality, as well as the wide range of products we have in our stores, make it very difficult for us to accept throwing away food that had ALMOST gone bad. There is also a very high standard that food in restaurants and grocery stores must look “perfect” and be stainless to be sold. One might wonder why no one is sorting it out, reusing it, or giving it away? It is simply a matter of cost.
We have a big responsibility to change this. If we all raise our awareness about how we consume and cook, we can gradually decrease these percentages. Sharing our knowledge and encouraging each other to make better choices and change habits will help us to make better decisions. Even bringing your own bag to the store and not buying plastic ones is raising awareness and helping you observe what else you can change in your everyday life.
How are we including this in Open Kitchen? We are, first of all, only cooking vegan and vegetarian food which has a much smaller impact on the climate than meat products. Additionally, cooking only with vegetarian products helps reduce the risks of many diseases you may face in your lifetime. The cooking events are really showing people wholesome ways of cooking by seeing the value in the food and that the food has such a big impact on us. We value good and homemade food; we love it, but most importantly – we share it.
Sounds good? Why don’t you then join us at one of the Open Kitchen gatherings? We meet every Wednesday afternoon in Neukölln’s Refugio to cook and eat together. It is a great occasion to tell each other stories and make friends too. We have a lovely group of people coming from all around the world. Just get in touch with Ricarda at firstname.lastname@example.org to give her a heads up, so that we have the right amount of tomatoes.