Refugees on the border between Ukraine and Poland after the Russian invasion (Photo: FAO/UN)
By: Montezuma Cruz
Former editor, Samuel Sales Saraiva appeals to Joe Biden, FAO, and Pope Francis, the construction of dehydration plants to contain food waste would allow “storage banks” facilitating emergency humanitarian aid on the planet
“Storing food and alleviating hunger costs less than storing weapons”, says Saraiva in a letter to the UN, Pope Francis, and President Biden
Washington DC – Samuel Sales Saraiva, Brazilian-American citizen, ex-alternate federal deputy for the Brazilian state of Rondonia, and currently residing in Olney, MD, sent a letter titled ‘The Cruel and Criminal Face of Hunger In The World, this week to the President of the World Food Program, David Muldrow Beasle and to the President of the United States, asking for support for the use of technology in the dehydration of natural foods on a large scale. Saraiva also published an ‘Open Letter’ addressed to Pope Francis, on his Blog (see link below).
“Thousands of tons currently wasted would be conserved”, said Saraiva.
According to him, the construction of dehydration plants would allow “storage banks” in regions considered vulnerable.
Recessions and pandemics, including Covid-19 and its variants, worsen and increase food insecurity, punishing rich and poor countries alike.
The construction of plants with the technological capacity to transform food stocks from the natural state to dehydrated, or even to a pre-cooked state, in addition to extending the conservation time – on average five to six years, would strengthen global food security, he observed.
Fourteen years ago, the letter writer had made a similar appeal, justifying that the measure would alleviate hunger in regions plagued by natural disasters, wars, or acute economic depression.
“It would be reasonable to think that the cost of storing food is proportionately lower than that of storing weapons”, Samuel opened in 2008. “If dehydrated food nourishes soldiers in wars, they can feed the underprivileged victims of oppression and hunger”.
According to FAO, food waste also occurs in large-scale industrial transport, in fields, during storage and in markets, causing a loss of US$680 billion in industrialized countries and US$310 billion in developing countries.
The implementation of the project in question could be coordinated by governments, in a public-private partnership, as part of food safety policies, in a global partnership with all organizations committed to containing this waste, everything that could be processed by the dehydration plants would be destined to food banks that they would distribute according to humanitarian needs.
For Saraiva – among other measures aimed at achieving the objectives of the proposition, in parallel, legislation could be studied creating a tax that penalizes food waste, throughout the chain, from production, distribution, storage and marketing, converging resources to the plan. global forecast in the proposal on screen.
APPEAL WAS SENT TO OBAMA
In January 2009, disappointed that he had not obtained a better result in Brazil, Samuel sent the suggestion again to, the then US president, Barack Obama, which was covered in the press at that time.
“Finally, after more than a decade of formulating the proposal, noting that hunger has worsened in the world and nothing or very little has been done, I watched a report made by war photographer Gabriel Chaim, on the program Fantastic, from Rede Globo, shown on December 5, 2021, showing images of suffering: children, women and the elderly searching, hungry, for scraps of food discarded by American troops; I felt in my heart a restlessness and a continued awareness of the duty to insist on the promotion of the idea”.
Currently, he regrets “the indifference to the pain of others and the lack of empathy that constitute in the eyes of reason, an unequivocal form of complicity with crimes committed against humanity, motivated by human greed for power, fame and money”.
For the native of Rondônia, “the enemies who challenge are not the peoples and nations destroyed by expansionist motivations and geopolitical hegemony, but the scourges that punish humanity”.
“It is unacceptable, in the middle of the 21st century, for man to scour the universe in search of stars and make himself blind to the valuable stars that shine within each creature. (…) The lack of discernment and respect for life prevents the understanding that helping is a privilege, never a burden, the only way to enforce the feeling of compassion and the practice of solidarity”.
This solidarity, according to the writer, is gratifying and “a moral duty”, which is why it “must be exercised by everyone, poor or rich, and above all by the holders of power emanating from the people and responsible for finding just and dignified solutions”.
“FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD”
In a spiritual tone, in the letter to Pope Francisco, Saraiva, warned: “Faith without works is dead (James 2:14)”. “And without compassion and justice, giving priority to life above frivolous, extravagant and petty interests, there will be no moral support that justifies any existence before the Universe”.
In the letter to WFP President Beasley, the Brazilian recalled having written to his predecessor, José Eduardo Barbosa, proposing the development of a project for the construction of plants for the dehydration of fruits, grains, and meat, which make up the food reserve stocks of the member states.
The objective of the project would be to process food to increase the shelf life of stocks, seeking to avoid waste and simplify distribution in emergency situations. According to Saraiva, the media news around the world shows the unacceptable death of thousands of people as a result of hunger, while large amounts of food are discarded due to expiration dates.
“The creation of safe stocks, with a long useful life, for emergency care for citizens, should be considered a public policy of a strategic and priority nature in all nations”, he exhorted.
He recalled that Feeding America, the largest organization to combat hunger in the US, manages more than two hundred food banks spread across the country, proving its viability and importance, as reported by BBC News Washington, in a report signed by Brazilian journalist Mariana Sanches, on January 4, 2021.
Sanches reminded Samuel of the alarming finding of waste due to the early degradation of food caused by inadequate infrastructure and the lack of packaging and other procedures that prevent contamination.
EGYPTIANS STORE 4,000 YEARS AGO
“According to an estimate prepared by five UN agencies, (SOFI) 2020, on the number of people experiencing hunger on the planet, we now know that 811 million people suffer from hunger, an increase of 161 million compared to 2019”, he pointed out.
For over 4,000 years, without the technological advantages of today, the Egyptians, with relative success, stored food for supply in long periods of scarcity. This was an exemplary demonstration of maturity and the correct strategy to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations in the intelligent expansion of leadership. It proves we can do the same now, and at modern scale.
“In the 1960s, under President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the US created a program to assist the South American population. It was called the Alliance for Progress, and lasted until 1969; I myself, among thousands of children, benefited from that in Brazil and Latin America”, he added.
OPEN LETTER TO POPE FRANCISCO
The cruel and nefarious face of world hunger
Washington D.C., January 25th, 2022
Your Holiness: Pope Francis,
It honors me to address Your Holiness and to express, first of all, my admiration for your efforts towards peace and social justice, fighting inequalities between populations, which is the source of the growing violence in the world.
More than a decade ago, I submitted to President Obama, to the head of FAO/UN, and to the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a proposition that, if implemented, could effectively contribute to alleviate the hunger that shamefully scourges populations in areas affected by natural disasters, wars, or acute economic depression. The use of existing technology to dehydrate natural foods on a large scale would allow the conservation and utilization of thousands of tons of food that are frequently wasted for different reasons; and, at a second stage, it would foster the creation of food banks in regions vulnerable to socio-economic problems and natural disasters, facilitating legitimate and urgent humanitarian food assistance.
It would be reasonable to think that the cost of stockpiling food is proportionally lower than that of storing weapons. However, propositions of this nature do not easily touch the hearts of those who have the responsibility of finding solutions to problems that humiliate the most vulnerable human beings. There is indifference to the pain of others; and the lack of empathy constitutes, in the eyes of reason, an unequivocal form of complicity with the crimes committed against humanity, motivated by human greed for power, fame, and money. World leaders must evolve and become aware that the enemy that challenges us and that we must beat are the afflictions that torture humanity; the enemies are not the populations and nations that get destroyed by expansionist motivations and the desire for geopolitical hegemony, which causes misfortunes and does not contribute to finding the compassionate solutions urgently needed. Hunger does not wait.
Your Holiness, you, more than anyone else, have the moral authority and sensibility to request a thorough examination of this proposition, guiding men of good will to form partnerships for its implementation. The public recognition of its feasibility and its importance would suffice to give visibility to the proposition, encouraging its acceptance.
It is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, man explores the universe in search of stars while turning a blind eye to the precious stars that shine within each creature and often get extinguished in the darkness of selfishness and indifference, which violate all the values of humanity. The lack of discernment and of respect for life prevents mankind from comprehending that helping others is a privilege, never a burden, and that the only things that justify our passage through this plane and allow us to achieve preparation for the afterlife in the spiritual plane are compassion and altruism.
Forgive me for the long text, but the importance of this subject leads us to philosophical considerations. Undeniably, the gratifying feeling that our duty has been done, in our brief passage through the material plane, depends on our capacity for discernment, and on our understanding that altruism, much more than a privilege, is a moral responsibility and should be exercised by all, rich or poor—especially those who hold the power that emanates from the people and are thus in charge of finding fair and compassionate solutions. This is the only way for us to avoid deserving shameful epithets like hypocritical, heartless, selfish, and reckless. The aspiration to a peaceful coexistence is inconceivable when a few live the dream of consumerism, indifferent to the hardships that torture thousands of forgotten beings. The presumption of earning the benevolence and forgiveness of a superior being after physical death becomes an improbable idealization. People forget that “faith without works is dead” and that, without compassion and justice, without prioritizing life above frivolous, extravagant, and petty interests, there will be no moral support to justify their existence before the Universe; the gods they invoke, looking for salvation, will not listen to them, if such gods exist.
Deeply confident in the attention I hope you will give to this sincere request, and therefore very grateful, I am at the disposal of Your Holiness and of your competent staff, reiterating my profound admiration and fraternal appreciation for Your Holiness.
I enclose herein the complete message that has been sent simultaneously to the head of FAO, to Your Holiness, and to the American President Joe Biden.
Samuel Sales Saraiva
David Muldrow Beasley
Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme
Via Cesare Giulio Viola 68/70
Parco de Medici
00148 – Rome – Italy
Olney, MD – January 20th 2022
Summary: proposition for the construction of food dehydration plants and of food storage banks in vulnerable regions.
Dear Mr. Beasley, Executive Director of the WFP,
In 2008 (14 years ago) I wrote to your predecessor in WFP, José Eduardo Barbosa, proposing the development of a project for the construction of dehydration plants for fruit, grains, and meat, which make up the food reserve stocks of the member states. Faced with the aggravating reality of the growing number of famine victims, I took the initiative to address Your Excellency. The objective of the project would be to process food in order to increase the shelf life of stocks, to avoid waste, and to simplify distribution in emergency situations. The importance of the project is evidenced by frequent reports of thousands of deaths by starvation, while large quantities of food are discarded because of due expiration dates, and degradation caused by poor storage. Examples of the feasibility of the processing and storage methods contemplated in this proposition include the companies Sopakco, based in Mullins, and Oregon Freeze Dry, which use these techniques to feed our military. These companies might be able to subsidize studies or even participate in public-private partnerships, alongside companies from other countries, aiming at the objectives proposed here.
In another message, I have also presented to the WFP the suggestion that effective action be taken to encourage governments and the private sector to build food dehydration plants, taking into account that the investment will be considerably less than the losses currently caused by inadequate storage conditions. Such an initiative will fill a vital gap between current food waste and the demand for food in areas affected by conflicts or natural disasters, reducing the number of deaths by starvation. The creation of safe food stocks, with a prolonged shelf life, to serve citizens in emergencies, should be considered a priority of strategic importance to all nations.
It is also recommended that, urged by the WFP, nation states encourage the establishment of reserves, in the form of dehydrated food banks, for the populations most vulnerable to political instability or natural disasters, among other threats that may create extreme food shortages. This will enable humanitarian aid agencies to provide the necessary assistance in such case-sin a timely manner, thanks to the food conservation technology available nowadays.
Building food banks is a must. Feeding America, the largest organization fighting hunger in the US, manages more than 200 food banks throughout the country, proving the viability and the importance of this initiative, as reported by BBC News Washington, in a report signed by the Brazilian journalist Mariana Sanches, on January 4th, 2021.
I congratulate you for your sensitivity and notable dedication in leading the WFP, designing global food policies, examining, modifying, or approving projects, in search of solutions to the hunger problem that mercilessly afflicts a large portion of the population on this planet.
I take the liberty of submitting, for your consideration, a proposition to encourage the construction of food dehydration plants to process meats, tubers such as sweet potatoes, yams and cassava, as well as cereals, fruits and vegetables, on a large scale. The dehydrated food shall be stored in food banks to be established in the most vulnerable regions.
Most nations, besides not having a network of food banks, still face problems of waste due to poor storage, subject to weather changes, disasters, rodents, bacteria, and fungi. Small and medium-sized producers are the ones who suffer most from these issues.
The evidence of food waste due to the accelerated degradation of food, resulting from inadequate infrastructure and the lack of packaging, as well as other procedures that could prevent contamination, is alarming. This is an unacceptable reality, in the face of the millions of people who starve.
According to the estimates calculated by five UN agencies, (SOFI), in “2020 up to 811 million people suffered from hunger,” an increase of about 161 million over 2019. The situation of food insecurity in the world is therefore alarming.
Dehydrated food would be welcomed as “manna from heaven” by those scourged by hunger. By adding just water, the pre-cooked, nutrient-rich meal would be ready.
The multiple positive outcomes that may result from the execution of this proposition make me believe that it aligns perfectly with the objective pursued by the distinguished institution that you lead—the objective of fighting hunger, particularly in emergency cases—thus deserving a thorough technical study for implementation.
The construction of plants with the technological capacity to transform food stocks from the natural state to dehydrated, or even to the pre-cooked state, would not only extend the shelf life of food stocks (5 to 6 years on average), but also strengthen food security in the world. It would be possible to donate such provisions, prior to their expiration date, to populations in need, under the coordination of FAO and its respective countries, thus avoiding the food waste that mocks and challenges human intelligence.
It should be noted that dehydrating food also decreases the cost of transportation, as it reduces volume and weight, facilitating the transfer of stocks between regions, as well as between countries, allowing easier shipment to areas subject to natural disasters, political conflicts, or extreme poverty resulting from social and economic inequalities.
It is worth pointing out that, more than 4,000 years ago, without the technological advantages of today, the Egyptians were somewhat successful in stockpiling food for long periods of scarcity, in an exemplary demonstration of maturity and employment of the correct strategy for strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations in the intelligent expansion of leadership.
During the mandate of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in the 1960s, the United States created a program to assist South American populations. It was called the Alliance for Progress and lasted until 1969—I was a beneficiary myself, along with thousands of children in Brazil and Latin America.
Recessions and pandemics like Covid-19 and its variants are aggravating factors that amplify food insecurity, plaguing rich and poor countries alike.
I would like to inform you that, in addition to Your Excellency and the members of the WFP Executive Committee, I will be sharing this proposition with His Excellency, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, due to the enthusiasm and seriousness he has shown in the search for practical solutions to the unacceptable scourge of famine, considering that the planet has the technology and infrastructure to solve this problem that blights human dignity. If dehydrated food nourishes soldiers in wars, it can feed the victims of oppression and hunger. I am confident that the president of the United States will, likewise, give the issue the attention it deserves.
Propositions capable of reducing inequalities demand the true greatness of a human being; above all, the good will and the awareness that, ultimately, technological advances are pointless if man cannot exist with dignity, with empathy, in a peaceful world.
In order to understand the relevance of the use of in natura food dehydration technologies, on a large scale and with humanitarian objectives, it would be interesting for the public policy-makers to spend a week with a plagued and hungry family, after witnessing, in loco, the discarding of tons of grains all over the world, especially in developed countries, characterizing an immoral waste of food, resulting from a combination of factors, especially the lack of political initiative, which prevents the structural correction of such insanity.
Finally, wishing you success in your administration, and trusting that you will not be insensitive to the exposed above, I put myself at the disposal of your team.
Samuel Sales Saraiva
The photo shows a product model made with the technology suggested in the project. (This one contains Grapes). Safe and lightweight packaging, facilitates any distribution logistics.
– This proposition was prepared in April 2008 and submitted to Dr. José Eduardo Barbosa, president of FAO’s Executive Board, who, in a letter dated April 22nd, 2008, informed that he had shared the proposition with “relevant technical divisions.”
– On 04/28/2008, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, upon learning about the proposition, informed, in the report COR/GP/PR: 635/2008, that he had requested analysis and possible measures.
– Disappointed not to see any progress, I decided, on January 18th, 2009, to submit the suggestion to the President Barack Obama, which was discreetly reported by some media outlets.
– Finally, more than a decade after the formulation of the proposition, having realized that hunger has worsened in the world while nothing or very little has been done, I watched a reportage authored by the Brazilian war photographer Gabriel Chaim, in the TV show Fantástico, aired by Globo on December 5th, 2021. Impressed by the images of suffering, showing children, women, and the elderly starving, searching for food scraps discarded by the American troops, I felt deeply unsettled and impelled to insist on the promotion of this idea.
*American citizen born in Brazil, former member of the National Press Club of Washington DC – NPB, and of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists – NAHJ. Humanist and independent activist acting for the environmental preservation of the planet, also an Alternate Federal Deputy in the 47th Legislature for the State of Rondonia.
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