A group of visitors from the Middle East and North Africa spent one week visiting some Iowa farms and food organizations as part of a visit to the U.S. to learn more about how we handle hunger and food production issues. Translator Elie Saliba says the five visitors from Yemen, Kuwait, Mauritania, Iraq and the Palestinian territories were particularly interested in seeing how Iowa farms and businesses handle issues like food transportation and food storage.
For example, Saliba says Mauritania now imports about 70% of its food, but they would like to be producing more food locally. “But Because imports now are so cheap and cost of local production is high, it does not make economical sense to produce locally,” Saliba says.
Saliba, says they were impressed with the organization of Iowa City’s “Table to Table Program,” which collects excess food from various businesses and distributes it to agencies that serve the hungry.
“They enjoyed the actual setup of Table to Table, whereby nothing is being wasted, everything gets recycled at all levels,” Saliba says. The visitors also met with some Iowan producers. The woman visiting from Yemen works to empower rural women in her country. She wanted to learn strategies for more efficiently growing a family garden and raising livestock, which she could teach the women back home.
The group left Iowa today to travel to Utah to visit various agriculture businesses there before heading home.