Finalist Q&A: Solar Cooking at Cantinawest

This Idea Cafe grant finalist promotes and educates how people can harness the energy of the sun for a fun and life changing experience by cooking their every day food using solar cookers.


Idea Cafe: How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what were your influences and sources of motivation?

Nathan Parry: I came up with the idea shortly after my first experiences with solar cooking.
I was intrigued with the idea that such a simple device and such basic laws of physics could produce a fully cooked meal fit for human consumption.
I have ever since then been teaching classes on solar cooking through our local community education program under the auspices of the local community college and the city of St. George.
Even though I am able to help many people on a local level discover the practicality and feasibility of cooking with the power of the sun, I felt that I needed to spread the knowledge and information beyond my own community.

I knew that there were already some other organizations that had been doing such work in different countries around the world, helping people who were destitute and homeless due to wars, natural disasters and such, but I could see that despite the time and efforts that had been dedicated by these organizations, the “word”, or rather solar cooking knowledge, was still relatively unknown.

My inspirations for doing this come from the example and efforts of the three most well known organizations backing and promoting solar cooking initiatives.

I have included the following links to allow you to learn more about this fascinating work, if you so desire.

Solar Cookers International

Solar Household Energy Inc

Solar Oven Society, People Helping People

After seeing what was being done by the most well known of these organizations I decided that I wanted to help with the overall cause and their efforts and I felt that educating people on a local and national level would help to draw more attention and consequently, more resources to the fight against hunger, poverty, and decimation of valuable natural resources in the most affected areas of the world.

Even though the motives and reasons for cooking with the sun are different for solar cookers located within industrialized countries such as the United States, as opposed to the poor in most third world countries; there is, I feel, a need for this alternative method of using our greatest renewable energy source here at home.

Therefore I continue to promote the benefits, as well as the rewards, of solar cooking to individuals and communities alike.
I Use the internet, local demonstrations for schools and private groups, as well as through the community education program of the local college, to show people how they can save money and energy, eat healthier and to enjoy cooking on a whole new level.

What do you consider to be a unique feature of your business?

I think the thing that I, as well as others, find to be so exceptional with this business is how impactful and attitude changing it is for those who experience it for the first time; to see the surprise, amazement, and delight when they actually cook a meal using only the power of the sun.
This is probably not so much a feature of the business as much as a consequence or effect.

It is amazing to see people totally change their mindset about the traditional and customary means and ways of doing things that they have done for so much of their lives.
All of a sudden they start seeing the possibilities in all kinds of other alternative ways of commuting, working, living, etc.
People go from “what’s in it for me” to “what more can I do or give”.
This is what I find most satisfying about what I do.

What are your thoughts on the future of small businesses in a slowing economy and their importance to the vitality of the local community?

I truly think that small business will become even more of a major player and a factor in our economy and the way we do business in the future, even the near future.
“Small business” will be the new revolution which brings change and stability, just as the industrial and informational revolutions transformed this nation for previous generations.

With adversity comes growth. With challenges come opportunities. With change comes progress.
There will be plenty of opportunities for the entrepreneurial minded small business owner.
With the demise of one industry or system will come about the creation of a new one to take its place and to fill the void.
That is the American Small Business way.

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?
Their support would provide the means and impetus for helping to bring about ideas and change to the disadvantaged peoples of a struggling world, people that desperately need hope of a brighter future, both abroad and here in our country.

If you are not familiar with solar cooking you can visit


The Idea Cafe sounds like a

The Idea Cafe sounds like a fantastic idea. Any method for promoting the wonderful world of solar cooking gets my thumbs up.

Just a shame I live on the wrong side of the pond, otherwise I'd be there.

Brighter Energy Solutions

I agree that adversity brings

I agree that adversity brings change--and your business is going to help make that change a positive one! Good luck!

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