San Diego Food Not Lawns, a group promoting sustainable growth, food justice and self-sufficiency in Southern California recently hosted a potluck lunch on a recent sunny San Diego weekend. This may not seem terribly noteworthy except for the fact that all the potluck dishes were cooked using nothing but the power of solar energy.
Ingredients were added, recipes were followed and by lunchtime a variety of dishes were available to taste and share. Lasagna, chicken casserole, and chocolate chip cookies were all made in solar cooking devices of all types just for this potluck event. Solar cooking devices can run the gamut from a pot from your kitchen with added aluminum foil wrapped pieces of cardboard, to professional units with built-in thermometers to monitor internal cooking temperature.
The common theme of all solar cookers is that they are passive cooking devices that require no fossil fuels or wood to turn raw food into a cooked meal. During the solar cooking exhibition, blueprints on do-it-yourself solar cookers and solar cooking recipes were exchanged and passionately discussed. The solar cooker pictured above concentrates the rays of the sun and focuses it on the pot, which can raise the internal temperature to over 300 degrees. Solar cooking is a concept that not only has applications for those mindful of their carbon footprint (since it requires no fossil fuels or wood), but can have life altering ramifications for the third world. Third world countries and refugee camps have already been targets for efforts to distribute solar cookers to the most needy. While solar cooking is still considered a fringe activity, it is beginning to gain a following, especially as its impact it can have on poor populations is understood.
In a sign that interest in solar cooking is reaching a wide audience, it was noted that 300 people attended the recent event in San Diego, and the event even garnered coverage in the mainstream local newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune. If you’re thinking about building your own solar cooking device, or purchasing one, take a look at www.solarcooking.org for more information. While not the most glamorous of websites, it is very informative and has details on attempts around the world to put solar cookers in the hands of the worlds poor in an effort to combat poverty and hunger.
A great aspect of solar cookers is that any recipe for a crock pot or pressure cooker will work in a solar cooker. Some of the outstanding writers (here at Eat. Drink. Better.) have fantastic recipes for crock pot chili and crock pot stew. You may have to experiment and make some minor alterations to the recipe, but they’re easily adapted from crock pot to solar cooker. Learn more solar energy facts.