“Earlene Cruz is on a mission to make people hungry for climate action every time they sit down to eat. Cruz is the Founder and Executive Director of Kitchen Connection Alliance, an entity that seeks to improve systems for growing and distributing food worldwide. She was at COP27 last November to launch the Cookbook in Support of the United Nations, an event facilitated by UN Climate Change.”
To learn more about “A Cookbook In Support of the United Nations: For People and Planet: 75 Sustainable International Recipes from Chefs, Farmers, & Indigenous Recipes,” go to: https://www.kitchenconnection.org/cookbook
“The Kitchen Connection Alliance is a revolutionary education hub and global youth organization dedicated to empowering global citizens with knowledge to contribute to a better food environment. The Alliance makes advocacy accessible, actionable, and engaging for a new generation of food systems champions. In the cookbook, it is noted: “This book is dedicated to our planet, for the way that it is relentlessly nourishes us.”
The cookbook is broken down into the following sections: the food system, biodiversity, sustainable consumption, food & climate change, reducing food waste, and components of our food. All recipes include nutrition information (starting on page 219) and appropriate items include a designation of V = vegan, VT = vegetarian, or P = pescatarian.
I’ve made numerous items from this cookbook, and I have been quite impressed with the results, including: Red Kidney Beans and Rice Curry (page 27), Enkum served with Steamed Cabbage (page 47), Baked Salmon with Sumac, Fennel and Figs (page 62), Butternut Squash Locro With Quinoa and Brazil Nut Crumble (page 82), Chorba with Roasted Eggplant And Sweet Potatoes (page 102), Sweet and Sour Pumpkin (page 142), Bulgur and Spinach With Yogurt and Pomegranate (page 146), “La Bandara Dominicana” (Dominican Rice and Beans) (page 150), Carrot Biryani (page 189), and Garbanzos Con Espinacas (page 209).
Cruz describes it [the cookbook] as a “non-prescriptive guide to inspire people to eat and cook what is available, feasible, and sustainable in their local contexts.”
The cookbook is a collaboration between the United Nations and Kitchen Connection Alliance, with proceeds supporting a children’s version of the book, the UN Bookstore and projects with Indigenous communities.
“We can start with questions that help us understand the journey of our food: Where is it grown? Who grew it? How did it get to my plate?” Cruz added. “As aware and empowered individuals, we can band together to insist upon more sustainable practices from farms and food companies and demand bold climate policy from our governments.”
“The way we produce, eat and waste food is one of the largest drivers of climate change globally, with food production responsible for a whopping one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. It is also the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture alone threatening 86% of species at risk of extinction.
At the same time, the world’s agriculture sector is increasingly vulnerable to climate change. The impacts of climate change on food security is growing worldwide and more prominently in developing countries: rising temperatures, heat waves, droughts and floods, changes in rainfall patterns and extreme events affect agriculture more than any other sector.”
“The appetite for transformation is huge. According to the Food and Land Use Coalition, creating healthier, more resilient and more equitable food systems could generate USD 4.5 trillion annually in new economic opportunities by 2030.”
The cookbook features 75 sustainable recipes from chefs, farmers and indigenous communities around the world.
“Indigenous Chef Rosalia Chay Chuc’s black bean recipe is the lowest-emitting recipe in the book. Food Systems expert Dani Nierenberg contributed a recipe called Make Do Ratatouille, which reduces food waste by using “imperfect ingredients” to make a “perfect dish.” Chef Pierre Thiam contributed a fonio recipe which uses a grain that was “rediscovered” and has revitalized the economy of Senegalese farmers in the region where fonio is grown.”
Sustainable food at COPs
“Laura Lopez, UN Climate Change’s Director of Conference Affairs, whose team facilitated the cookbook’s launch at COP27, said food is not only a topic at the conference but is woven into the organization of the COP itself.”
“Since COP25, the country hosting a COP must have a mandatory sustainability plan, which includes how it will feed tens of thousands of conference delegates in a planet-friendly way.
But it’s not as straightforward as it seems.”
“You would expect people working on climate change would want to choose food that is friendly to the earth,” said Lopez. “But there is resistance to that.”
“Held in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021, it knocked the ball out of the park when it came to sustainable catering. The meals used ingredients from local farms. The carbon footprint of each menu option was calculated, with a higher proportion of options with a lower carbon footprint on offer. A daily pick-up service ensured unused food went to shelters and schools to minimize food waste.”
“While it looked great on paper, the plan was missing one key ingredient: deliciousness. Serving conference participants local food was sustainable but it wasn’t sufficiently varied and didn’t appeal to all palates.”
“It was a good experience, with Scotland trying to do all the right things,” said Lopez. “Scotland had the best effort when it came to sustainable catering, but according to results of a participant survey after the fact, so far it has been the least popular among COP participants. If the food doesn’t taste good, eating the same thing every day for two weeks in a row isn’t going to cut it.”
Still, Lopez calls the experience a “journey.” “It’s a process and it requires a lot of awareness raising,” said Lopez. “I think this cookbook will do a lot in that regard.”
United Nations Climate Change. A recipe for change. January 3, 2023. Available at: