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Why Solar Cook

Why Solar Cook

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Published by pdxpharris

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Published by: pdxpharris on Aug 05, 2011
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04/25/2013

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Why solar cook
Solar cooking is the simplest, safest, most convenient way to cook food without consuming fuelsor heating up the kitchen. Many people choose to solar cook forthese reasons. But for hundreds of millions of people around the world who cook over fires fueledby wood or dung, and who walk for miles to collect wood or spend much of their meager incomes on fuel, solar cooking is more than a choice
it is a blessing. For millions of people who lackaccess to safe drinking water and become sick or die each year from preventable waterborneillnesses, solar water pasteurization is a life-saving skill. The World Health Organization reports that in 23 countries 10% of deaths are due to just two environmental risk factors: unsafe water,including poor sanitation and hygiene; and
indoor air pollution
due to solid fuel use forcooking.[1] There are numerous reasons to cook the natural way
with the sun.
Where solar cook
Successful solar cooking is dependent upon access to sunshine and the right climate. Thoughsolar cooking is possible in many
if not most
countries, it is most practical for people livingin climates that are generally dry and sunny for at least six months of the year. Latitudes betweenthe equator and 40º are usually best, though solar cooking at high latitudes is possible, even in the winter. The darker regions on the following map tend to have longer cooking seasons
Fuel Scarcities
One-fourth of humanity suffers fuel scarcities. Half of the world cooks with wood. Acceleratingwood shortages in many countries add new burdens to families, particularly in eastern andsouthern Africa.  Families must be fed every day.Rural women of all ages - including those who are pregnant and have infants, the elderly,and very young girls who should be in school - spend more time and walk ever-longerdistances to find, then carry, heavy loads of wood.Urban families in many developing countries now spend up to a third of their income forcooking fuel.
 
 
Refugees in Kenya,prior to getting solar cookers, often barter away part of their food rations to get fuel to cook the remainder.Many families are unable to cook nutritious foods such as beans and maize, which requirehours of cooking, and substitute less nutritious, faster cooking foods such as pasta.Families are also less able to heat/pasteurize their water and milk to reduce water borne-diseases, the major killers of children. Solar cookers easily cook most foods and pasteurizemilk and water.Fuel-gathering is one factor in the tide of migration to cities. A rural Zimbabwean summedup the possibilities: "Today many young Zimbabwe women don't want to stay in rural areas because gathering fuelwood is so difficult and time-consuming. Solar cookers can make rurallife easier for women so they'll want to stay there."The annual per capita wood consumption for cooking in most parts of the world is about .5ton (1.32 kg per day), or about 3 tons per family of six people. A solar cooker can save oneton of wood per year.The cost to replace cut trees in India is double the market price of cut wood.Many governments including Zimbabwe and Kenya import and subsidize less sustainablefuels at great expense.
 Health and Sustainability
Current cooking methods are unhealthy, unsustainable and unavailable to future generations.Cooking with fire means fire hazards and dangers of burns for small childrenSmoke causes lung and eye diseases.Future generations will have fewer options.The slower, gentler cooking provided by many solar cookers preserves more nutrients.The ability to pasteurize water with free solar energy can help prevent many diseases.The energy for solar cooking is infinitely renewable and entirely non-polluting.
 Improved solar cookers and training
Historically most solar cookers were either curved parabolic reflectors focusing intenseheat onto a single pot, or heat trap boxes with a window on the top and one or several flatreflectors. Both types were too expensive for most people, cumbersome and sometimes evendangerous to use.A wide variety of new solar cookers are more convenient, much lower-priced, and nowcompetitive with alternatives such as wood, charcoal, and wood stoves. One such model, anopen reflector, has been widely tested and has proven useful in the USA, Kenya and Zimbabwe. It pays for itself in fuel savings in two months or less and becomes a recurrenteconomic benefit to individual households.
 
 
Developed in 1994 by an international team of volunteers and dubbed the"CooKit," it is ideal for introducing the basics of solar cooking. It is easily hand-made and also is beingmass-produced in USA, Kenya and Zimbabwe with modifications to suit local needs andclimates.Participative instruction quickly teaches solar cooking skills and trains local women to alsoteach their neighbors.Many millions are waiting for the simple, life-long skill that they can pass on to futuregenerations.
 Cooking and Food Processing
Food needs little attention while cooking, leaving the cook free to attend to other matters.Scorching is very rare, so clean-up is simplified.Most of the preparation for a meal can be done early in the day, so there is less last-minutefuss.While food cooks in the sun, the kitchen stays cool.The gentle cooking preserves flavor and aroma, so the food tastes better.Foods can be preserved for out of season use at no cost in power, either by solardehydration or, in the case of some acidic foods, by canning.In some climates, the fact that a panel cooker has potential to be used at night as a chillercould be very useful in preserving some types of short-term fresh foods or leftovers.Solar cooking deserves new attention.
Types
The three most common types of solar cookers are heat-trap boxes, curved concentrators(parabolics) and panel cookers. Hundreds
if not thousands
of variations on these basictypes exist. Additionally, several large-scale solar cooking systems have been developed to meetthe needs of institutions worldwide.[edit]
Box cookers

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