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The Link between Healthy Eating & Agriculture

Beans - Ontario's overlooked local food. Beans may be one of the original functional foods. Unfortunately, Canadians are not noted for their bean eating. It is a shame, we don't eat more beans. The low domestic consumption is reflected in the overall statistics which show less than one quarter of our crop remains in Canada.

Ontario is the top bean producing province. On average, Ontario plants and harvests over 160 million lbs. of white beans per year (that would be equal to13,000 full-grown, adult elephants) and well over 100 million lbs (that would be equal to 9,000 full-grown, adult elephants) of coloured beans.

Not only are beans grown and harvested right here in our backyard but they are canned in Southwestern Ontario with minimal disruption to the environment. The bean crop is good for healthy soils, sustainable agriculture and food production. The bean crop reduces overall greenhouse gases by using CO2 from the air and by using less energy from non-renewable sources.

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. Canadian beans are shipped to more than 70 countries and are regarded as a gourmet delicacy in some countries.

In Britain, they are a staple where 60% of the population eats beans four times a week. The Brits eat 'beans on toast' for breakfast, 'bangers and beans', 'beans and mash' and then beans as a side. Something we, as Canadians, may wish to emulate.

The 'buy local' food movement promotes reducing the carbon footprint by decreasing the distance and time for food to get to our tables. Just 40 kilometres north of London lies the town of Hensall, the self-proclaimed White Bean Capital of Canada. 'Buy local' brings together local farmers and consumers, and creates benefits for the entire community. Half way between Hensall and the shores of Lake Huron, Ontario's West Coast, lies the community of Zurich. Here, every August, the Zurich Bean Festival brings together the community and reinforces the link between agriculture and healthy eating.

Beans along with peas, lentils and chickpeas, are part of a broader family of legumes also referred to as Pulses. They contain many heart healthy nutrients. Beans are high in dietary fibre, and a good source of protein and folate, with little fat and no saturated fat. Recent findings from Canadian clinical trials - PDF have shown many benefits of increasing pulses (such as beans) for the following: cardiovascular health; weight management; glycemic index (diabetes) and digestive health.

The iBEAN program seeks to raise awareness and educate students on the health benefits of consuming locally grown beans. The entire bean food chain is here in Ontario - from the farm gate to our plate. We can all agree that eating more Ontario grown products like beans is good for everyone. It's good for the environment, the farmers, the consumer and the economy.

 
 

Link: Get the Fact - facts about beans
Link: Read about nutrition information
Link: The link between healty eating and agriculture
Link: Take the quiz
 
 
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]