the_wonderbagThe Wonderbag is a revolutionary non-electric cooker with the capacity to change the way people cook around the world. The Wonderbag website describes the product as “a simple but revolutionary non-electric heat-retention cooker. It continues to cook food that has been brought to the boil by conventional methods for up to 12 hours without the use of additional fuel.”

The Wonderbag works by allowing the person cooking to heat any pot of food and then place the boiling pot into the bag and seal it. The initial heating can be done in any way whatsoever: on a stove in a modern kitchen, over a campfire or on a charcoal fire in a developing country’s village. The heat from the initial boiling keeps the food cooking inside the Wonderbag for eight to 12 hours.

The Wonderbag is portable and can be used anywhere. In addition to heating food, it can also be used as a cooler. All you have to do is freeze it and it will keep food cold for hours.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, inventor Sarah Collins said “The biggest killer in the world is indoor air pollution related diseases; over 4 million people die annually from cooking related fire diseases,” half of whom are under five years of age. Also, the burning of fuels causes hundreds of thousands of burns every year, according to the Wonderbag website.

Deforestation is a major problem around the world and is happening especially quickly in the developing world where they still use wood and charcoal as fuel and for the purposes of cooking. And by 2025, water shortages may affect up to two-thirds of the world’s population. In an interview with Climate Action, inventor Sarah Collins stated that: “The bag can reduce the amount of fossil fuels that people use for cooking by 90 percent.”

According to the Wonderbag website, the preparation of food can have a particularly damaging effect on the progress of women in developing countries. Preparing food can take hours, including the time spent gathering fuel. The use of the Wonderbag can free up several hours a day, allowing girls time to go to school and women time to do other work.

According to Climate Action, Collins says that through humanitarian work, she aims to get her product to “the people who live on a dollar a day in the developing world.” In the developing world, the bag can be used similarly to a slow cooker in a modern kitchen.

Finally, for each Wonderbag purchased by someone in the developed world, one will be donated to a family in the developing world, linking people all around the world to each other.

Rhonda Marrone

Sources: Wonderbag, Facebook, Huffington Post, Climat Action Programme
Photo: Flickr

A chef connects solutions to poverty and malnutrition in Haiti with cooking.

Chef José Andrés has discovered a new approach to solving poverty in Haiti, and it starts in the kitchen.

In Huffington Post’s recent feature on Andrés, Lifestyle Blog Editor Zoë Lintzeris details Andrés’ love affair with Haiti, describing his innovative ideas to improve the country’s cooking conditions and, subsequently, save it from poverty.

Andrés’ solution focuses on improving cooking apparatus to decrease safety hazards in the cooking process with his “clean cook stoves.”

Cooking safety hazards in the region include the use of “dirty” firewood and coal, two fuel sources that are unsustainable and not very profitable.

These dangerous methods have gone hand in hand with deforestation and pollution in the region. Erosion of soil, extreme and frequent flooding, degradation of water resources and habitat destruction are some forces linked to socioeconomic turmoil.

“Haiti has the highest rates of deforestation of any country in the world — a mere 2 percent of Haiti’s original forests remain,” says TriplePundit.

In turn, deforestation is responsible for a large portion of Haiti’s increasing poverty rate. Haiti’s real GDP growth has slowed down in the past two years, going from 4.2 percent in 2013 to a forecasted 1.7 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank.

GOOD Magazine suggests that “efficient stoves can help in the meantime, according to Jean Kim Chaix, the founder of the Charcoal Project, which aims to become a clearinghouse on charcoal alternatives and a consultant for green entrepreneurs.”

The Charcoal Project has undertaken a project to provide an energy efficiency program for schools, to teach them to produce fuel for cooking and lighting.

The project utilizes wood and stoves that reduce smoke and save fuel, which is just what Andrés is shooting for with his clean cookstoves.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, hosted by the UN foundation, is Andrés’ initiative to save lives and protect the environment by creating a global market for “clean and efficient household cooking solutions.”

The Alliance has set out a 10-year goal to foster the adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels in 100 million households by 2020.

Andrés also discussed Haitian cuisine in his PBS special, “Undiscovered Haiti with José Andrés.” In the video, he describes the deep ties between the food and the country’s history and culture.

Andrés’ relationship with Haiti has led him to uncover a revolutionary solution to a problem that has a long history. Perhaps economic prosperity really can start in the kitchen.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: Huffington Post,, TriplePundit, World Bank, Charcoal Project, Clean Cook Stoves
Photo: SCINet