Healing the world a bite at a time

By Chef Bela Gill

CORNEating is a necessary act to maintain our bodies functioning well. Depending on what, how much and when we eat, food can serve as medicine or poison, can bring joy or stress and even health or disease, to human beings and the environment. Today, much is said and spread about healthy eating, however it is important to understand that a healthy diet must benefit not only our health but also the soil and the health of those who bring food to our plates, the small farmers. The true holistic and healthy diet must contemplate how and by whom the food was produced, how good or bad is the food for one’s health, and the impacts of the food on the environment. Food is a crucial tool to change the world for better
and the change can start on our plate.

I believe in the healing power of good food, not only physically, but also environmentally, culturally, economically and politically speaking. Food can makes us healthy living beings or an extremely ill society, it all depends on what, how and how much we produce and eat. So my biggest intention with my work is to provide information to people so they can get inspired to change, and there is no better way than over a delicious pot of homemade food.

In Brazil I have a cooking show where I cook healthy plant-based meals with culturally appropriate foods, I visit agroecological farmers and invite them along with Brazilian celebrities to join me at the table and taste the dishes that I had prepared. Being able to communicate with a great and large audience is the fantastic advantage of the media. 

Using the power of TV I try to raise ecological, cultural and nutritional awareness of the daily food choices people make. So, eating becomes more of a political act than just simply nurturing the body. For example, many people know the importance of biodiversity for the survival of humans and the planet, but sometimes it seems very distant and impossible to do something about the extinction of species. However, diversifying our diet is actually one of the most efficient ways to preserve biodiversity. The time has passed to stop just talking about biodiversity and actually eat it. So I cook with ancient grains, wild edible plants, and unconventional parts of plants, such as papaya seeds and banana peels. The goals is not to cook with what people already have at home, but to diversify their pantries in order to improve their nutrition, and conserve the environment and traditional communities. 

What we choose to put in our plates today can define the future of humanity!