Pulses, in the immortal words of the late Rodney Dangerfield, “Get no respect.” So true.
When we think of something of insignificance or of little value, we proclaim: “It ain’t worth a pile of beans.” Or when Jack came home after he traded his cow for a handful of magic beans, well, we all know how that worked out.
No, pulses crops and the foods associated with this downtrodden group of lentils, peas, and beans have been the unsung heroes of nutritional diets of the world for too long. Until now.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2016 the “International Year of Pulses.”
Finally, lentils, peas and beans will get the respect they deserve.
And so they should. These scrappy little dried legume crops can be grown on many continents. Packed with protein, fiber and vitamins, they can help eradicate hunger, undernourishment and disease in many countries.
For producers, they are a sustainable, low input crop, and for many countries with precarious growing conditions, they can help increase food security when shortages occur.
For Canada and United States, pulses can lead the way to a healthier population. Pulses are packed with nutrients and can tackle the increase of diseases associated with obesity and diabetes; two significant health alarms in our fat, sugar and sodium rich North American diet.
To help spread the word, the International Pulse Trade and Industries Confederation has set aside $1.1 million to fund activities and committees around the world to work with governments, farmers, retailers, food manufacturers, health and sciences organizations to build awareness of pulses and realize their full potential.
Closer to home the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers association will kick off a consumer awareness campaign encouraging Manitobans to put more pulse into their diet. Economically that will put a smile on many local producers’ faces as some $100 million worth of pulses are grown in Manitoba every year.
So the next time you open a can of lentils, or have a bowl of green pea soup at Festival du Voyageur – give thanks to pulses. Or, at least, show some respect.