por Marcelo Teixeira

Not pear, not grape, not apple

Salviano, a friend of an aunt of mine, is a retired bus driver. Even so, he still works. Adelia, his wife, is a skilled cook. To bolster the household budget and help pay for her youngest son's college education, she has already made ice cream, pies and the like. She currently cooks and delivers ready-to-eat meals. Every day, four options of dishes, plus side dishes and drinks.

Once, in a conversation with my aunt, Salviano declared, in an unpretentious and smiling way: “Here at home there are always bananas and oranges. You can't buy other fruits, but bananas and oranges abound!” It's been a while since this aunt told me this. At the time, Adelia still did not deliver food at home and the country was not the horror it is today. It could be that the family situation has improved, I don't know. Even so, considering the fact that Salviano still drives buses and Adelia continues to work on the stove, everything suggests that the fruit bowl is still not very diversified. If so, I conclude that if the fact that they were only able to buy two types of fruit bothered me a few years ago, today, when I remember this story, the discomfort returns. And it increases because Salviano was not aware of the seriousness of what he said at the time.

Our country is a generous land. We have an immense biodiversity, ranging from the Amazon to the cerrado*, passing through the caatinga, the pampas, the Atlantic Forest... Here, “when you plant, everything grows”, as the letter by Pero Vaz Caminha, written in 1500, when the Portuguese arrived here. Therefore, the profusion of fruit and vegetable producers is immense. Why, in a country so rich with fertile soil and abundant water, are there so many people like Adelia and Salviano?

* Translator’s note: Cerrado, also known as the Brazilian savannah. Caatinga is the only exclusively Brazilian biome. The Pampas are a natural and pastoral region of grassy hillside plains located in southern South America. Wikipedia

Thiago Lima, professor of international relations at the Federal University of Paraiba (UFPB) and coordinator of the research group on hunger and international relations at the same institution, is a Spiritist, luckily for us. On May 20, 2021, he granted an interview to the “Coletivo Espiritas a Esquerda” in which he addresses serious issues related to hunger.

With vast data available, as he is a specialist in the matter (and in the light of the Spiritist Doctrine), Thiago shows that our country has its history based on hunger, and under several aspects. One of them shows: Brazil produces more food to export than to feed the native population. Thus, the less Brazilians eat, the more products available for export. Therefore, the large farmers and landowners profit more. On the other hand, they will fill their coffers less if the food stays here, since the profits from the domestic market are not as large compared to what they earn when they sell food to other countries. Therefore, we often pay dearly for the food we buy at the supermarket. Then, fruits that could have been on the table of people like Adelia and Salviano become inaccessible. There are bananas and oranges left; although, in the current situation, I believe that, for many people, it is difficult to guarantee both in the fruit bowl.

There is an aggravating factor in the couple's story: Salviano is chubby and Adelia is obese. With the naked eye, we will never see people with nutritional problems in them. After all, they look well fed. It may seem strange to many, but there was a time in the country when being fat was synonymous with opulence, health and ostentation. A sign that the person had the money to have a plentiful table and enjoy sumptuous breakfasts, lunches and dinners. At the same time, being thin was synonymous with misery, especially when the northeastern migrant was portrayed in paintings by artists such as Candido Portinari and in novels such as “O Quinze”, by Rachel de Queiroz; and “Vidas Secas”, by Graciliano Ramos. The situation was reversed. Nowadays, those who have money demonstrate this through a fit body – whether through physical exercise, balanced diet and interventions such as liposuction, plastic surgery and the like. After all, keeping all this is costly. On the other hand, those who have little money to support themselves will opt for cheaper food; saturated, however, with fat, sugar, salt, sodium, etc. and low in nutrients. We are talking about cookies, white flour, fried foods, white rice, assorted sweets... It is overweight due to a diet low in zinc, iron, beta-carotene, iodine, calcium, vitamins... The result is obesity and disease such as hypertension, respiratory failure, in addition to mood swings, muscle contractions and many other disorders.

A diet devoid of nutrients such as those already mentioned causes an intermittent hunger that the cakes and snacks of life cannot satisfy, no matter how much they are consumed. This phenomenon is called the hidden hunger syndrome. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a deficiency “developed in people who do not eat varied foods in relation to food groups. Thus, a person can even consume a certain amount of calories per day, but if the diet does not contain several nutrients, it will not cause satiety and will trigger hidden hunger”, as explained by the website Mundo Educacao in a text entitled “Hidden hunger”. People who eat this way run the risk, according to the website, of becoming obese and malnourished, however paradoxical it may be. It is hunger and its most varied facets, triggered by the selfishness of powerful men.

In “The Gospel According to Spiritism”, Allan Kardec, in chapter XIX, item 8, transcribes the Parable of the Fig Tree that Withered. It is contained in the New Testament. More precisely, in the Gospel of Mark, 11: 12 to 14, 20 to 23. The parable says that Jesus, when leaving the city of Bethany with the disciples, was hungry and went to a fig tree. As it wasn't fig time, there were only leaves. Jesus then said to the tree, "Let no one eat any fruit from you." The next day, when they passed through the place again, the fig tree was dry.

Jesus, being a chosen Spirit, would not curse a poor tree because it did not satisfy His hunger. In fact, he wouldn't curse anything. We are talking about a very High Spirit that passed through the Earth. He took advantage of the fact that it was not the season for figs (and perhaps that the fig tree was already in the drying process) to show that each and every person, institution or similar that lives only on brightness and lacks solidity is doomed to perish. This also concerns, in my view, a political-economic system that pushes people to eat profusely in colorful packaging, attractive names and millionaire advertising campaigns; poor, however, in content. In short: a degenerated diet that contributes nothing to physical health. At the same time, this same system privileges the foreign market over the children of the land itself. It is as if the shelves full of superfluous and nutrient-poor products were orchards of dried fig trees producing hidden hungry people and potential bearers of illnesses caused by poor nutrition. Time will take care of drying them and making trees sprout with fleshy figs, that is, food rich in nutrients and accessible to all.

And the dried fig tree, oddly enough, is also present in the color of the fruit section. For what reason? Because, although tender and inviting, they are inaccessible to a large part of the population, who cannot afford an abundant table. A fig tree that dries up because it is so close and, at the same time, far from hungry hands for healthy eating. Has anyone here ever stopped to think how hard it must be for a person to enter the supermarket, stare at the fruit stands and resent being unable to take home a good amount of what is in front of him? Can you imagine how hard it must be to smell pineapple and not have the money to buy it? The day will come when these fig trees will be within reach of all hands. After all, those who are hungry and thirsty for justice (including social) will be satisfied.

When I was a child, I played “Pear, grape or apple”. Depending on the choice, we would get a handshake, a hug or a kiss from someone who we had chosen at random, as we had our backs to the other participants. I imagine Salviano and Adelia entering the market to shop and having to pick up only the essentials. In the fruit section, despite the abundance of specimens there are, they will only take bananas and oranges. I assure you that the sight, smell, touch and taste of both are sharpened by the profusion of colors and flavors offered by the other fruits. For them, however, only bananas and oranges. Not a pear, not a grape, not an apple. Neither is papaya, strawberry, peach, pineapple, melon, avocado, persimmon, mango, watermelon, fig, tangerine...

This subject is not exhausted for me. I will return to him soon.



1- SPIRITISTS ON THE LEFT – Spiritism and fighting hunger. Available at: click here          

2- KARDEC, Allan – The Gospel According to Spiritism, 2nd edition, 2018, Brazilian Spiritist Federation, Brasilia, DF.

3- WORLD EDUCATION – Hidden hunger. Available at click here-1


Eleni Frangatos - eleni.moreira@uol.com.br



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita