The agriculture of Latin America had a profound effect on the rest of the world. Before the Americas were discovered by Europeans, we had never tasted tomatoes, maize, peppers or even the humble potato. As a result Latin American food is some of the most varied and popular cuisines in the world. However, the continent faces huge social pressures such as unemployment, poverty and violent crime. A number of chefs and schemes in the Latin Americas however are transforming society through food.
Anti-violence cooking in Brazil
Violent crime in Latin America is at an all time high, along with this is a high level of youth unemployment. Some chefs have come up with inspiring ideas to help combat violence whilst helping gang members learn new skills. Restaurants such as Gastromotiva train up ex-gang members as chefs to help them build better lives for themselves and their families.
Peru has one of the world’s biggest rich-poor divides, but as a developing nation, many are using its new found global cuisine fame to promote the country and help disadvantaged people train as chefs. The Fundación Pachacutec Culinary Institute offers scholarships to budding chefs who hail from the country’s most marginalised communities.
The Amazon is home to a huge variety of fruits, seeds and animals, however, industrial agriculture threatens the habitat of the flora and fauna. A scheme known as Cumari, draws together a number of non-profit organisations and chefs to encourage them to forage local ingredients and use them in their cooking. The scheme is designed not only to encourage use of what is available locally but also to reduce the rainforest from being cut down for industrial farming.
Ending hunger in Venezuela
In Venezuela, swathes of poverty-stricken children go hungry every day, thanks to the economic crisis. But one top chef has the answer. In the evenings he runs a hugely popular high class restaurant but during the day, chef Carlos García delivers hundreds of meals to hungry children with his Full Belly, Full Heart scheme. Using his skills, profits, staff and his own catering equipment, such as the commercial items found at 247catering, Garcia is able to help others.
These inspiring schemes are helping fight poverty through food, whether its cooking for children or helping chefs get on the ladder.