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Integrated Cooking Method

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Integrated Cooking Washington DC 2009

Photo shows the major components of the Integrated Cooking Method.

The Integrated Cooking Method (ICM) relies on these basic elements:

  1. Solar cookers (using the sun's free energy as a supplement to fuelwood)
  2. Heat-retention cooking (insulated baskets that allow food to continue to cook after once being heated to boiling)
  3. Rocket stoves (or other fuel-efficient stoves)

Two other simple devices will further reduce fuel use and help preserve cooked food.

  1. Water Pasteurization Indicator (aka WAPI - Water only needs to be heated to 65°C (150°F) to make it safe to drink.)
  2. Pot-in-pot cooler (refrigeration using two clay pots and wet sand - Proposed addition to ICM)

History

Ruth Whitfield demonstrating two aspects of the integrated cooking method

Ruth Whitfield demonstrates the Integrated Cooking Method in Bolivia.

Fireless-rice1

Rice being cooked in a heat-retention cooker

In 1989, Dr. Wilfred Pimentel of the Rotary Club of Fresno developed a great kinship with the African people. He lived in Northern Nigeria for 3 years with his wife and family while he taught Veterinary Medicine & Surgery at Ahmadu Bello University. He became aware of the severe deforestation and the grave concern of many by the Sahara desert slowly moving southward. In 1988 he became involved with Solar Cookers International. This was the beginning of the Solar Cookit project in Kenya.

In the 1990s, Kenya was experiencing deforestation at a rapid rate. The lives of the people became more and more tied to the need for obtaining wood for cooking and water for drinking. Women spent many hours of each day in these activities. However, there was abundant sunshine that could be used for cooking. In 1994, Dr. Wilfred Pimentel of the Rotary Club of Fresno visited all the Rotary Clubs in Kenya seeking ways to help these women who live in abject poverty. To address the issue of deforestation and reliance on fuelwood for cooking, Dr. Pimentel started the first solar cooker project with the Rotary Club of Nairobi East. Solar cooker technology was taught to a group of Kenyans in two days of classes using their pots and food. This was the beginning of the spread of this technology, the addition of "Rocket Stoves" and Water pasteurization indicators followed and became part of the integrated solar cooker program that has now spread to sixteen different sites on five continents.

The most recent project is in Turkey with the Rotary Club of Adana-Seyhan and funded by the Rotary Clubs of Adana-Seyhan, Sarnia Bluewater in Canada and Fresno. Other locations with active projects include Turkey, Mexico, Africa, and Bolivia.

News and recent developments

  • April 2007: Former Solar Cookers International Executive Director Bev Blum demonstrated solar cookers and built solar CooKits at a conference titled "Killer in the Kitchen: Indoor Air Pollution and Appropriate Technology Solutions" held last November in Alabama. The purpose of the conference was two-fold: to spotlight the global problem of indoor air pollution related to smoky cooking fires, and to explore proven appropriate technology solutions. Several technologies were presented, including fuel-efficient Rocket stoves, heat-retention cookers, and solar cookers. Solar Oven Society’s Martha Port provided additional information on solar cooking and solar water pasteurization. "There was a strong consensus that the ideal way to address smoke hazards is integrated introduction of fuel-efficient stoves, solar cookers and heat-retention cookers," Blum writes. "It was a great experience." The conference was sponsored by Servants in Faith and Technology (SIFAT), the Sparkman Center for Global Health, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Framework Program. SIFAT offers courses on a range of topics -- including appropriate technology, international health, and microenterprise development -- from a Christian perspective.

Experience with integrated cooking in Bolivia

Technology transfer is more a social issue than a technological one. That is one reason our methods utilizes hands on works shops followed by a six-month documented use period to help force the development of new habits. Once relatives and neighbors see the "home improvements" and hear from their friends the benefits, they all want the devices too. In that way, demand is created, as well as a cultural base of people that basically understand the technology. The the next phase is short demonstrations for groups of people that want to buy the devices. That is where we are now.

Integrated-cooking

Our vision evolved from just solar cookers, to solar cookers and efficient stoves and then solar cookers, efficient stoves and heat-retention cooking, used in combination. Thus the term, integrated cooking systems, which I think was coined by Wilfred Pimentel after returning from two of our Integrated Cooking systems courses.

I think several years back Dean Still referred to their research at the Aprovecho Institute in Oregon, that indicated that retained heat cooking was the single most significant cooking variable that could immediately reduce the ills related to cooking with biomass fuels, even without improved cookstoves.

We took those indications to heart, but continue to encourage the use of solar cookers and efficient wood cookers, because used together they reduce by more than 80% the fuels used in traditional methods, as well as reducing other ills associated with traditional cooking, and we have found that it is just as easy to introduce the technology all at once as it is one at a time.

Many folks are still skeptical of solar cooking. We have learned that when we begin by acknowledging that solar cooking, in any form, will not completely replace traditional cooking, it makes more sense to the people. For instance, in developed countries, you might have a toaster, a small electric toasting or warming oven, a gas stove and oven combined, and a microwave oven, all useful for specific cooking tasks. This comparison helps people understand that the solar cooker is not intended for full-time cooking. The fact that the solar box cooker can be used as a retained heat cooker, when there is no sun has been a real boost to our efforts in Bolivia. We believe that this is one of the reasons we have had such success getting people to develop the habit of using the solar cookers. We have folks that cook at night for their husbands who work the graveyard shift using the solar cooker in heat-retention cooking mode! They bring the food to boil, put the pots inside the solar cooker and let their husbands take the food out at midnight when they are leaving for work. Those ladies are so happy not to have to cook at 11:00 at night!

In the case of the solar cookers, since discovering their double utility the number of users who use the solar cooker 5 to 7 days a week increased from 77% to 89%. For us this is very significant. The solar cooker/heat-retention cooking users report a yearly average of 65% fuel savings.

David Whitfield, CEDESOL, Cochabamba, (first written on the stove list Bolivia February 2005) - http://www.cedesol.org (look for the downloads section)

Articles in the Media

Reports

See also

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