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Facts about Beans
Beans go by a number of different general names such as legumes, dry bean, common bean, and 'a pulse'. For convenience sake, beans are divided into two broad subdivisions - coloured beans and white beans. Almost every region of the world that grows beans has different specific local names, but most of these dry edible beans are members of the scientific classification Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean).
Dry beans store easily and maintain their nutritional properties well. It is estimated that there are well over 400 different types or varieties of the common bean grown throughout the world. Most beans are consumed locally as part of indigenous diets.
These beans have a multitude of shapes, sizes and colours. They rarely find their way into the stream of commerce and onto our western grocery shelves. Size, shape, colour, texture and slight variations in taste add variety to a serving of starch or carbohydrate. A lot of people around the world are sustained on a meal of rice and beans every day.
Canada is fortunate in that it grows beans in excess of its needs and exports surpluses around the world. Here in Ontario (especially around London), we have been growing white pea beans, also known as the navy bean, since the early 1900's. Since around the mid 1970's, Ontario has been growing a number of different coloured bean varieties as well.
This small, pea-sized white bean with its creamy white skin coat got its popular name "Navy Bean" because it was a staple food of the United States Navy in the early 20th century. These small white beans are perfect for making baked beans. They are mild-flavoured, dense and smooth, and readily absorb flavours from sauces such as tomato, molasses, maple etc.
Bean crops are also one of the most environmentally-friendly sources of protein, contributing to sustainable food production by protecting and improving soil and water resources. The bean crop reduces overall greenhouse gases by using CO2 from the air and uses less non-renewable energy inputs. As a legume crop, it fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere and returns it to the soil rejuvenating the fields for the next year's crop.
 
 

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This website is brought to you by Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC), Ontario (White) Bean Producers Marketing Board, Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc., and  Residence Dining at The University of Western Ontario

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Last Modified on March 1, 2016 2:46 PM, by [DR]