Foreword to The Power of Pulses

Posted January 06 2016

I have been growing and talking about the value of pulses—dried peas and

beans, chickpeas, favas and lentils—for 30 years, and remain more convinced

than ever that they could help renew the health of our planet.

   Pulses are tried and true—people in temperate climates have been

growing and eating them for more than ten thousand years. Nutritional

powerhouses, pulses are still the most essential part of the diets of billions

of people worldwide.

   Belonging to the amazing and prolific legume plant family (Leguminosae

or Fabaceae), pulses can snatch nitrogen out of the air and add it to the

earth. Because of this powerful ability to increase the fertility of soil by

simply growing in it, they are the epitome of renewable energy.

   Easy to grow and prepare, dried peas and beans, chickpeas, favas and

lentils can be cooked in a seemingly infinite variety of simple and delicious

ways and offer much culinary delight because of their diverse tastes and

textures. Cultures around the world have created special dishes for all of

the pulses, and this book contains 50 inspired recipes that borrow from the

best of them.

   The surprising news is that even though most North Americans don’t

know beans about beans, our farmers grow vast acreages of pulses to export

to millions of people who do appreciate them. And while Canada is the

world’s largest exporter of pulses, Canadians consume less than 10 percent

of what their farmers grow. It is time for Canadians and Americans to realize

that pulses—flexible enough to be prepared in hundreds of memorable

ways for breakfast, lunch or dinner—could and should comprise a much

larger portion of our daily diet. And in addition to buying pulses from our

local farmers, we can grow them ourselves easily . . . and organically.

   Of all the thousands of years seeds have been handed from farmer to

farmer, it’s only in the past 50 or so that poisons have been used to grow

food. We are at a crucial moment in our story when it is absolutely vital that

we return to feeding everyone with clean food and water instead of continuing

to play havoc with the health and well-being of ourselves and all the

earth’s creatures. Pulses can be easily grown without herbicides and pesticides

if we size down the North American model of industrial agriculture.

   To this day, millions of small farmers grow beans without chemicals. And

I have been growing beans myself successfully for 30 years without ever

resorting to poisons. Pulses are also light on water, increasingly important

on this planet where drought is becoming more and more a daily concern.

   Being the nutrient-dense and easy-to-grow foods that they are, pulses

can point us in the direction of a safe and sustainable agriculture that gives

everyone access to clean food and water, along with the possibility of living

in health, harmony and mutual benefit.

   Renewable energy is everywhere, every day for the celebrating. Pulse

plants can show the way by enabling humans to be renewed by our daily

food. Like the pulses within our bodies, they are slow and deep and at the

heart of things.

   Pulses require between 20 to 40 times less fossil fuel to produce than

meat, yet they provide incredible nourishment. And meanwhile, these same

pulses regenerate our earth, nourishing the soil that nourishes our food.

   I hope this book shows how much power there can be in a handful

of beans, and how much delight there is to be had in growing and cooking


—Dan Jason