Celebrating the Year of the Pulses

Various dried beans from Kirsop Farm.

Various dried beans from Kirsop Farm.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of the Pulses. In other words, the U.N. is celebrating dried legumes!

Translated once more: That means dried beans, lentils and peas.

Coast to coast, Washington state is legumes country.  The Palouse of eastern Washington is where lentils, garbanzos and peas dominate, and the central and western part of the state is home to a slew of dried beans – black, cannellini, fava, pinto, to name a few – plus heirloom varieties such as mayocoba, orca and scarlet runner. 

What this means for you is an amazing selection of locally grown beans at the farmers market. SFMA vendors who grow and sell dried beans at any of our three farmers markets include:

Alvarez Organic Produce, Growing Washington, Kirsop Farm, Nash’s Organic Produce and Stoney Plains. 

We plan to join the U.N. celebration and highlight Washington grown pulses throughout the year. To get this party started here are five things to know about pulses:

  • They’re good for the earth: As nitrogen fixers, dried legumes enrich soil, making it more fertile and productive for local farmland 
  • They're economically sustainable: For farmers, dried legumes present a twofer: Cash crop and source of livestock feed.
  • They're rich in both fiber and protein. By weight, dried legumes are about 20 to 25 percent protein. Just a half-cup of cooked black beans packs more than 7 grams of protein and fiber. (Source: USDA Nutrient Database)
  • They're a good non-dairy source of calcium, particularly from white beans. A half-cup of cooked white beans contains 131 mg of calcium, nearly double the amount in a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese (69 mg).  
  • They're inexpensive sustenance: A pound of dried beans amounts to 4 to 6 cups of cooked beans, depending on the variety. This translates into 6 to 10 servings.  Even at $7 per pound (sometimes for heirloom beans), the cost per serving is 70 cents to $1.15.

Ready to get started? Here are the details for  how to cook up a basic pot of beans from last year's farmstand demos at our sister markets in Madrona and Wallingford.  We plan on cooking up more market beans this year, so stay tuned!