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By Anne Patterson (Founder and CEO, Solavore) with Lydia Serrano (Slow Food USA)

It's been five months since Hurricane Maria paid her unwelcome visit to Puerto Rico and there are still many reasons we need to help. 400,000 people continue to live without power making this the longest blackout in US history. In Morovis, a municipality located in the island's lush and mountainous interior, an estimated 80% of its 30,000 residents are still without electricity. “Money they would use to buy food is instead going to buy fuel for a generator,” said Morovis Mayor Carmen Maldonado. Most Puerto Ricans have water but they’re afraid of drinking it, instead turning to bottled or boiled water. On top of that, a cash shortfall could likely result in a reduction of power generation in the very near future. With June's hurricane season right around the corner, it is clear that readiness needs to be addressed right along with recovery.

Tapping the sun's energy makes sense not only for power production, but for cooking. Using no fuel other than the sun, solar cooking preserves the nutrients, color, and texture of meats, vegetables, and baked goods. Slow cooking in the sun is a natural fit for Puerto Rico where the sun shines an average of 2,829 hours each year and the local cuisine matches the capabilities of the Solavore Sport solar ovens. As days without power stretch to months, solar cooking can help ease the burden of putting a hot meal on the table and providing safe water to drink.

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Work all day while dinner simmers in the sun. A solar crock potwhat could be more helpful?

Solavore is currently working to bring solar ovens to Puerto Rico and deploy them to families still without power. Thanks to funding received from a Generosity campaign, 25 solar ovens are on their way to Puerto Rico and Solavore is committed to bringing the power and magic of solar cooking to 75 more. These families will be able to cook unattended all day while they work or re-build, burning no gas in a generator or propane on a cooktop. Their bundles  include two 3-quart GraniteWare pots (capacity for a family of 6-8) and a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) since the solar oven can also be used to pasteurize water.

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Three main segments of Puerto Rico have been slated as beneficiaries. First is Punta Santiago (#1 on the map), an area of fishing villages that experienced almost total destruction. Second is the central mountains region (#2 on the map), made up of many isolated villages still without power. Third are young farmers throughout the island, who were particularly hard hit by Maria. They are working hard to recover and remain committed to returning Puerto Rico to its agrarian roots using sustainable farming methods. Solar ovens let them farm and re-build all day while dinner is simmering in the sun.

{{ image(5801, {“class”: “fill round”, “width”:640, “height”:340}) }}Acampa Nature Adventures is connecting groups that are interested in helping Puerto Rico's recovery with affected communities in the central mountains.     

Solavore is working closely with a deployment partner in Puerto Rico, Acampa Nature Adventures, who will warehouse, transport, and assist with instructional training. Acampa lost all of their facilities in the rain forest and are currently unable to offer eco-tours there–their primary revenue stream. Instead they are using their knowledge of the mountains and villages to be the backbone of recovery efforts like the Solavore campaign. Read more here.  

{{ image(5819, {“class”: “fill round”, “width”:640, “height”:340}) }}Solar-cooked rice

The preparation of food using heat is the most elemental of human endeavors. Cooking sustains our bodies, nourishes our souls, unites us around a common hearth. In a world of infinite richness and variety, cooking is a common thread stretching across time and cultures. Every oven purchased gets us one step closer to putting out a wood-fuel fire somewhere in the world. We don't want to forget Puerto Rico – help us help with solar!  Incorporate solar cooking into your slow food cooking, and know that you are supporting efforts like this one at the same time.


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