Ninom Rouze Moreira
This profile was prepared when Ninom Rouze Moreira was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Serving as a health agent in an indigenous village characterized by malnutrition and hunger, Ninom Rouze observed considerable wastage of nutritional foods in food preparation. The women food preparers were throwing away edible and nutritious seeds, greens and skins from fruit and vegetables. She decided then to use her cooking skills to develop delicious and nutritious recipes to supplement the local diet. Ninom has a practical message that women immediately understand. "To recycle in the kitchen," says Ninom, "means to create new habits, waste less, improve food quality and save money. Some time ago skins, seeds, bran and some leaves were considered waste or food for animals. Through the 'Cookery for Life' program, these elements become an important part of needed cereals." But her message goes further by promoting a holistic concept that links health and nutrition to environmental care. "Our first environment is our body and we have to care for its health in a way that does not harm the surrounding environment," she says. She argues that in order to understand food, one must also understand the environment in which it is grown. She shows women how to identify edible plants and other food sources, emphasizes the danger of pesticides and the importance of crop rotation and introduces a new awareness of the environment to her fellow cooks. In this process, she consciously rescues indigenous knowledge on traditional nutrition, medicine, agriculture and other methods of self-reliance.