All across the world, spoiling food is driving many farmers out of business and fueling a rising crisis. Due to a lack of storage facilities for freshly-harvested crops, farmers have been left with few options. One such option is purchasing expensive freezers from the World Bank, but only the richest can afford them.
When the non-profit organization, Compatible Technology International (based in St. Paul, MN), learned of the problem, they designed and supplied manual potato slicing devices,. In India, farmers sliced their surplus potatoes and laid them out on flat roofs to dry. Children were given sticks, and they shooed away the flies. A great deal of food that had been wasted was now being saved.
In developed countries, people dehydrate food to stock it up for emergencies. Food is dehydrated commercially in gas-fired ovens. They are so hot that lots of flavor is released – and lost.
You might be thinking, “This great for large scale problems in places like India, but how does this apply to me?” Well, for the same nutritional benefits and resource saving reasons, many environmentalists dry food with sunshine.
Commercial solar dryers range in price from $30 up. However, it is cheaper to do-it-yourself. Unlike some DIY projects, it doesn’t require you to have a whole workshop in your garage. You don’t a big budget, nor much more than a drill bit for making holes.
Here are picture of several DIY designs:
There are many plans available for DIY dehydrators. Here is an example from DIY Natural.
There is new interest in community gardens. Solar food dehydrators would make great additions to community gardens.