Cooking classes on preparing healthy meals was one of the first programs I ran here at the hospital.
Since beginning those classes, I’ve seen the Netflix original Cooked. This show is great to watch, and it illustrates how the human connection to cooking naturally facilitates a healthy meal. In fact we are the only species in the world that cooks our food before eating it, making cooking a part of what it means to be human. As a defining characteristic of humanity, it stands to reason that cooking has the deep roots in culture and family seen in every country. But with increasing globalization, even the most traditional cultures are adopting new practices surrounding food. Namibia is no exception. Popular choices include: eating out (KFC is a favorite), having pre-cooked food taken home (you can get french fries at every gas station), and buying frozen meals (I do like the vegetarian chicken burgers though). Across the globe we are opting not to cook to gain time and effort, but are we losing part of our humanity? Ok that’s a bit dramatic. But what we know for sure is that these practices aren’t doing our health any favors.
So using the Cooking Matters curriculum, staff members from my hospital prepared healthy meals from scratch with minimal guidance from me. Every Wednesday in February, we paired a recipe with a health topic, and learned how to prepare strange things like zucchini, beets, celery, and oatmeal raisin cookies. While these ingredients and recipes are not traditional, the reality is that they are more readily available in towns like Outjo than traditional fruits and vegetables. If globalization gave us these new healthy foods along with the unhealthy soda and take out, why not learn what to do with them?