• Martina Conti

Lisa Casali: an Eco-friendly utopian

When the English philosopher Thomas More, wrote his book Utopia in 1516, he also coined the word “utopia”.

As it comes from the Greek term ou+topos meaning “no place” or “nowhere”, when the name “utopia” is used in reference to a change or a social improvement, people immediately see a connection between this term and the idea of something impossibility to be realized.

After five hundred years since the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia, it can be seen that in time the term utopia has changed, now meaning “continuous improvement” that is something that helpes the world to advance. Without a utopistic outlook no change in society would be possible.

The Italian environmental scientist, food writer and author, Lisa Casali, can be considered an example of today’s utopian, because of her idea of approaching food and cooking abilities in a creative way in order to tackle food waste.

As you are famous for your eco-friendly cooking techniques, I’d like to ask you how you came up with the idea of paying such great attention to reducing food waste while cooking?

“One evening, 10 years ago an artichoke changed my life. After peeling it I realized I was throwing away into the bin more than the half the amount of what I was going to eat, so I started thinking about an alternative way of cooking. From that moment on, I started making experiments concerning every day techniques in order to have environmental friendly results related to cooking and food.[…]I think that our choices related to food are crucial to determine the future of our planet and that sustainability is to be considered as a concrete concept to be practised every day at different levels, something in which each of us is involved.

My idea of an anti-waste cuisine starts indeed with the aim of consuming as few resources as possible”

Does your attention to the consumpition of the resources mean using what we now consider waste while cooking? How can this technique be successful?

“Fruit and vegetables have on average 50% of what we consider “waste” if we approach them with traditional techniques. After experimenting for 10 years I am absolutely sure that the 50% of what we usually throw away is edible and that it’s possible to make interesting dishes with it. Let’s learn how to peel and cook vegetables and fruit such as pumpkins, artichokes, fava beans, fennels, apples and oranges using 100% of their potential, let’s optimize consumption of natural resources taking advantage of their nutritional value.”

Saving water and optimizing the use of fertile soil are two of Doctor Casali’s eco-friendly philosophy keywords which are closely related to another special idea of her anti-waste cuisine. The other one is self-production, about which she expresses her point of view “learning how to do self-production of what we eat, can present some benefits to the environment because this helps people face the seasonal trend of production as use raw materials completely.”

In 2009 scientist Casali, founded a blog named Ecocucina.org, through which she explained her food- friendly recipes, showing how to tackle food waste problem in a creative way.

She also published several books translated in many languages, one of which cooking in the dishwasher[1] presents a lesser known but efficient method of “cooking at a low temperature by taking advantage of the heat guaranteed by the dishwasher” thus making it possible to reduce energy waste. “Obviously when you cook in this way”, she adds,“it’s imperative to hermetically close the food we are going to cook in glass jars or using vacuum sealed bags. By using them you can avoid the washing detergent polluting the food. In this way “fish, meat, eggs and shellfish can be cooked at a temperature between 55 and 75 degrees”. This technique will save water and reduce power consumption.

At the moment Lisa Casali is cooperating with organizations, companies and TV programmes in order to raise awareness of food waste problems and questioned about people’s reactions to her innovations, replies “What I present is in contrast to traditional cooking techniques, stereotypes and clichés so people mainly approach it with scepticism. But I had an enthusiastic feedback from a smaller part of the population, essentially younger people and people who are interested in ecological issues”.

Being a person who cares about environment and food waste issues Lisa Casali has many other projects in progress such as “cooperation with some of the best chefs of the world in order to create a new kind of cuisine based on legumes, the more sustainable but underestimated ingredient of Italian cuisine. Besides,” she goes on “as I care very much about sea over-exploitation, I’m studying a format which will raise awareness of this problem. I’m also studying a TV format that will teach people how to combine ingredients from the food pyramid and echo-friendly

[1] Edizioni Gribaudo, November 29, 2013

(Blog Editor: Qi Sun)

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