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24170: RE: 24160: chin (discuss) cookers en general (fwd)

From: Elizabeth J. Chin <ejc@oxy.edu>

OK, I'm partly funny and partly serious here -- you can't make good mayi boukane in a solar cooker or with propane!

Of course the charcoal problem is huge, but as an anthropologist I just wanted to emphasize that the element of culture is hardly insubstantial.  One can certainly make a very strong argument about the rational evaluation of cost/benefit charcoal vs. propane, but the way food tastes really matters too.  In issues of consumption, furthermore, it's always dangerous to make judgements (particularly moral judgements) about how other people spend their money -- especially poor people.  For the very many poor people in Haiti, food that is pleasurable and tasty is among the few pleasures available--when it is indeed available.  Such pleasure is extremely precious, even if it is environmentally horrifying.  The fact that so many of Haiti's people are even in the position of having to make such choices is really the problem.

Elizabeth Chin
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Occidental College  Box M 37
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323)349-0635 (fax)