- Much of the savings at a household level come from pre-prepared food, and the overall energy to prepare the food has likely remained the same.
(A random photo – but our thanks to http://ballymaguirefoods.ie )
However thirdly, in the UK “the huge expansion in ‘ready meals’ and takeaways is probably a bigger factor in the decline in cooking energy, and it is questionable whether these lifestyle changes have saved energy overall.“
This is potentially very important.
We recently analysed the cultural cooking of Sub Saharan Africa and noted that it is focused on cooking ‘raw foods’. All the energy to get that raw food to a tasty meal is applied at the household. When we look at UK food we see ‘ready meals’. At the extreme this is the TV dinner, that requires only 10 minutes in the microwave from frozen! Measuring the 10 mins of microwave use does not fairly represent the energy applied to that meal. The energy applied was done in a factory somewhere, invested and stored in the ‘ready meal’. (True also of pasta – it has energy invested in its creation, to be ‘finished off’ by the chef).
So one new line of thinking for us is, is there room for more pre-processing of food in SSA in order to lower the household demand for energy making that household demand more easily fulfilled by a solar PV system.
For instance, we have looked at the waste geothermal heat in Nakuru from power production – could a factory for food processing be set up next to the power plant and produce pre-processed food? (Or any other generating plant giving waste heat – or even just an industrial estate which would have the infrastructure to support mass production)
And for those of you who are going to focus on taste and say that African like fresh food – yes that’s true but as it is our data suggests that 25% of meals are reheats, and that actually many chef cook in bulk for later use. – so a ‘culture’ of pre-processing food does exist at the household level.
Can we leverage that into an industry (like the UK) that creates employment and accelerates the uptake of modern energy for cooking?