“The evidence is so clear that climate change is real and that the second largest polluter is food production, our food choices have a massive impact. So as a chef, I kind of see my role as helping people understand that that food is so much more important than our personal desires or what it is that we think we can get away with.”Christina Pirello on Sustainable Cooking
In this episode of EnvironMental with Dandelion, we welcomed Christina Pirello to talk about sustainable cooking. Christina is the Emmy Award-winning host of the national public television series, Christina Cooks, which has been airing across the USA since premiering in 1998, and the best-selling author of 13 cookbooks.
We loved having Christina on the show. Not only did she bring an inspiring energy to the podcast, Christina’s dedication to sustainability in food is infectious. The food we choose and the way we prepare it is one of the few ways we can impact our personal carbon footprint and Christina makes it easy to make delicious, vegan, low-footprint meals.
Christina’s Journey to Sustainable Cooking
Christina’s journey towards sustainability began at age 14 when she became a vegetarian after learning about her father’s experience working in a slaughterhouse. However, her commitment to a plant-based diet took on a new dimension when she was diagnosed with cancer at 26. After being diagnosed with only a few months left to live, Christina managed to heal herself with the help of her coach (and now husband) and a total food revamp.
This pushed her life in a totally new direction – her focus became the connection between food, health, and the planet. Now she has been on TV for almost 30 years, teaching about food and the impact it has on our health. She is an advocate for a plant-based sustainable lifestyle and has dedicated her life to helping people make a change for the better.
“I feel like in the beginning my role was simply to get people to make better food choices for personal health. Now I think my voice has become make better food choices for the generations to come. Make better food choices for the health of the planet and for the people around us.”Christina Pirello
The Role of Food in Sustainability
There are two daily choices that have a massive impact on our personal digital carbon footprint – our travel and our food. While choosing public transport and walking aren’t choices everyone can make day to day, choosing a plant-based diet is.
Choosing to lower your meat consumption and use fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily meal planning is a sustainability choice that you can take into your own hands. Not only is it a great place to start on a sustainability journey, it’s a daily decision that can help keep us on track with our overall sustainability goals.
Christina also highlighted the obvious need we have to heal our food system. She talked about agriculture in France and Italy, where family businesses prioritize sustainability and waste reduction. It isn’t something new or fancy, it’s just business as usual! She sees the importance of regenerative farming and feels like it’s her place to raise awareness about the healthiest (and yummiest) ways for us to farm and eat.
We’re all optimistic that if we can create a large enough movement towards food safety and regeneration, we can heal the world.
Despite her optimism for the future, Christina acknowledged the challenges of promoting sustainable cooking, even in 2023.
We talked about the influence of lobby money in keeping the sustainability message suppressed. It feels conspiratorial, but it’s true. There is a massive push by power hungry agriculture giants to glaze over the sustainability message. Greenwashing is a big problem in the food and agriculture world. It’s an exploitative industry, full of inequality, and food still isn’t considered a human right – it’s a commodity.
If we allow our people to starve and our planet to be destroyed, there will be nothing left to exploit. There will be no power left to gain, or people to hold it over. Money won’t hold the value it does now when people in charge are finally feeling the impacts of climate change.
“Did I do enough for your generation and the generation after you that’s coming, or am I part of the guilt of the generation that’s after the 60s said, ‘Well life’s a party’?”Christina Pirello
We resonated with Christina’s questioning about whether she’s done enough. Every advocate feels insecure sometimes, especially when we’re looking at this looming climate crisis. We talked a little bit about this when we spoke to Sue Inches. What do we do when we don’t know if we’ve done enough? Find a community! Talk to each other!
Connect with Christina!
Christina does her level best to get back to all the messages she can, especially about food security and sustainability.
If you’d like to connect with her, here are the places to do it: