In the message to FAO for the online celebration of World Pulses Day, Francesco recalls that lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a noble food, essential for a healthy diet, “simple and nutritious foods that overcome geographical barriers, social belonging and cultures “. And he emphasizes the role of rural women in cultivation and harvesting, which does not harm the land
An invitation to “be vigorous and resilient like legumes” and to unite to put an end, once and for all, to hunger. This concludes the message of Pope Francis, in Spanish, signed by the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, for the online celebratory event organized this afternoon by FAO, the United Nations World Organization for food and agriculture, on the occasion of World Legumes Day on 10 February.
Foods devoid of pride, which do not reflect luxury
Legumes, according to the Pope, “are a noble food, with enormous potential to strengthen food security worldwide”. In fact, “they are devoid of pride and do not reflect luxury”, but “constitute an essential component of healthy diets”, because “simple and nutritious foods that overcome geographical barriers, social belonging and cultures”. Therefore, Francesco remembers, “lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas can be found on the tables of many families, because they are able to satisfy different protein needs in our daily diets”.
A harvest done by hand, without damaging the earth
The Pontiff, in his message, recalls that the word “legumes” derives from the Latin legumen , which refers to the fruits or pods “which are harvested not by mowing, but by tearing the plants by hand”. A job carried out above all by women, in “contact with the earth”, at inconvenient times and in often difficult climates. For this Pope Francis underlines “the fundamental role of rural women in the production and distribution of food through cooperative mechanisms which, essentially, find their reason and their strength in love for neighbor and joint work”.
Sharing the fruits of the earth thinking about who will come next
In concrete terms, the Pope explains, from rural women and indigenous women we can learn how effort and sacrifice allow us to build, “together with each other and not thanks to the other”, networks that ensure “access to food, equitable distribution of goods and the possibility that every human being fulfills his aspirations ”. In a world in which, Francis recalls “there are still many people” and many children “who cannot access the most basic resources and lack healthy and sufficient food”, the pandemic has further aggravated the situation. For this reason, Francis continues, “the task of cultivating the land without damaging it is urgent, so that we can share its fruits thinking not only of ourselves, but also of the generations that will come after us”.
The universal right to a healthy diet
Recalling that “eating a healthy diet should be a universal right”, the Pontiff appeals to States to encourage “public education policies that promote the inclusion of nutritious foods conforming to every particular reality”, and in which “legumes must surely to be part ”, along with other foods that complement them.
Thanks to rural women, who also feed the children of others
Pope Francis’ final invitation is to imitate “the beautiful and good acts of those rural women who do not renounce the mission of feeding their children and the children of other families”. In the common home of which we should all feel part of, “there must be room for everyone, without discarding anyone. We feed everyone and in a healthy way, so that everyone has the same opportunities and we can build an inclusive and just world ”.
“Love legumes, for a healthy diet and a healthy planet”
World Legumes Day aims to recognize “the nutritional values of these foods” and the “contribution they offer to sustainable agri-food systems and a world free from hunger”, underlines the FAO in a statement. This year’s theme for the day was “Love legumes – for a healthy diet and a healthy planet”. The General Assembly of the United Nations, in 2018, decided to celebrate this day on February 10 of each year, entrusting the FAO with the management of the anniversary, in light of its contribution to the International Year of Pulses 2016.
The merits of legumes, a source of proteins and micronutrients
Legumes, recalls the FAO, the edible seeds of leguminous plants including lentils, chickpeas and Bambara beans, “are foods with a high nutritional value and essential ingredients of a healthy diet, as well as an appreciable source of proteins and micronutrients”. Compared to other basic food crops, “legumes have a higher selling price and are therefore an important commercial crop for small producers”. And they are known for their characteristic of fixing atmospheric nitrogen, “helping to enrich the soil with high quality organic matter, and increasing the soil’s ability to retain water”. These properties allow farmers to optimize the use of fertilizers and energy in arable systems, with a consequent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as well.
A crop that requires less water than other protein sources
The cultivation of legumes, explains the FAO, “requires less water than other sources of protein and is essential for biodiversity”. In fact, the association of crops with legumes increases the biodiversity of farms and creates a more diverse landscape for animals and insects. Finally, legumes can be stored for months without losing their high nutritional value, and therefore “enrich the supply of foods available between one harvest and another”.
Legumes, allies in the fight against poverty
For this reason, concludes the FAO, “legumes can contribute to improving the sustainability of our agri-food systems and are indispensable allies in the fight against poverty and in favor of food security, human health and nutrition, and the environment”. Therefore, they play “a key role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Participants in the virtual event on February 12th
The virtual event on the afternoon of February 12, with live speeches and statements and video messages, was attended by the director general of FAO, Qu Dongyu, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the FAO, Archbishop Fernando Chica Arellano, on behalf of of Pope Francis; the first lady of Argentina, Fabiola Yáñez; the ministers of agriculture of India and France, Narendra Singh Tomar and Julien Denormandie, and the representative of the Chinese minister of agriculture, Renjian Tang; the permanent representatives of Burkina Faso and Argentina to the FAO, Joséphine Ouedraogo and Carlos Bernardo Cherniak; the Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems 2021 Summit, Agnes Kalibata; the president of the World Confederation of Pulses 2021, Cindy Brown;the adviser to the World Trade Organization, Diwakar Dixit; and FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol.
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