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Solar cooking 93 million miles away - and it’s free

Posted by: april
May 18, 2010

SEI's resident solar cooker Matthew Harris loves solar cooking. Here's why:

The sun represents so many things to the planet. Without it we would not survive for very long. It takes only eight minutes for the sun to reach the earth, 93 million miles in just 8 minutes. The amount of solar energy intercepted by the Earth every minute is greater than the amount of energy the world uses in fossil fuels each year. For me the sun represents many things as well, but this time of year it symbolizes the most inspiring thing I like to do with the sun which is to solar cook. Solar cooking has been around for as long as humans have been figuring out how to harness its energy, as far back as ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Solar cooking is healthy for the body and the planet, easy to do, loads of fun, and the food tastes so wonderful as it preserves more of the natural nutrients of the foods by cooking at slower and lower temperatures.

There are three styles of solar cookers; the Box Cooker, Panel Cooker and Parabolic Cooker. All three styles are excellent for solar cooking and produce delicious food. You can cook just about anything that you want in a solar cooker. I like to cook many things in my solar cookers (I have seven of them), but my favorite thing to cook is falafel sandwiches in my deep dish parabolic cooker (see image). Every year I throw a summer solstice ‘Solar Falafel Potluck’ at Solar Energy International, in Paonia, CO, and we deep fry hundreds of falafel’s taking advantage of the longest day of the year by starting the cooking around 6 p.m.

If you cannot tell, I just love solar cooking, but beyond my love for the art what inspires me the most about solar cooking is that it gives people around the world an opportunity for a healthier and more comfortable way of life and a proven alternative to a lifestyle that relies on the costly, time consuming necessity of searching for wood and other cooking fuels often in dangerous and distressed parts of the world. There is so much to learn about solar cooking, a good place to start is The Solar Cooking Archive (, and if you are interested in learning more about development opportunities with solar cooking you might want to check out Solar Energy International’s Developing World workshops (

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