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The Brothers of El Celler de Can Roca Want to Feed the World

Food and politics.

Jordi, Josep, and Joan Roca
Jordi, Josep, and Joan Roca
UNDP/Flickr

Spain's El Celler de Can Roca currently holds the prestigious title of the World's Best Restaurant, and accordingly, charges almost $300 per person for its lavish and experimental dinners — but that doesn't mean it's out of touch with how the other 99.9 percent of the world eats. Brothers Joan, Jodi, and Josep Roca have just been appointed Goodwill Ambassadors for the United Nations Development Program, reports The New Yorker.

According to the UNDP blog, "The Roca brothers will generate support for the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by world leaders to achieve a future by 2030 where hunger, unemployment, inequality, and climate change are a thing of the past." The Rocas join a prestigious existing lineup of ambassadors, including actor Antonio Banderas, Spanish soccer sensation Ronaldo, and tennis player Maria Sharapova, all of whom spotlight various causes from the fight against poverty to nuclear disaster recovery.

The Rocas explain their mission in a blog entry on the UNDP site:

We are highly concerned about the loss of food biodiversity in the world, the abandonment of indigenous cultures, and forgotten culinary traditions, all of which can lead to poverty and exclusion. We are concerned that, increasingly, more communities cannot choose what food to grow and how to prepare it, and they depend on prices that fluctuate excessively. It is heartbreaking and mindboggling that in some countries, particularly in Africa, more than half of food is wasted while at the same time 800 million people across the world, including in those very countries, go hungry.

The food industry, from production to distribution to consumption, should not be a threat to sustainability, but rather a source of sustainable development. Agriculture is the main source of employment in much of the world. There are traditional food conservation techniques, which are accessible, inexpensive and simple, that can substantially reduce food waste.

When we educate people, especially youth, on the impact that food and its production has on their health, environment and the economy, they start to care about where their food comes from. That’s why we want to do our part, together with UNDP and its partners, by conducting culinary trainings, promoting environmental awareness, and, above all, learning from and sharing sustainable practices throughout the world.

The Rocas are certainly no strangers to world travel, historically shutting down their Girona, Spain restaurant for five weeks each summer to journey to various parts of the globe; in 2014, they toured the U.S. hosting pop-ups in various major cities. It sounds like the brothers' new charitable agenda will take them even further — particularly to Africa, where the SDG Fund is piloting a network of training centers to instruct farmers in sustainable agricultural practices.

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