2016—Year of the Pulses
Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser
No need to check your pulse, it’s about pulses, also known as legumes. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has declared 2016 as the Year of the Pulses. That means seeds like peas, beans, lentils and related pulses commonly consumed by mankind (as opposed to those used for animal fodder).
Indeed, such seeds are grown and consumed in large quantities all over the world and they are nutritious and tasty—by most accounts.
A President’s Palate
President Bush is quoted as saying he didn’t like broccoli. Now, really, everyone is entitled to have his or her preferences in that, last not least the Prez.
Of course, broccoli may not be the most desirable veggie for your palate either. What about peas then? No, they are not your most favorite choice of pulse either? Then, I guess, it must be lentils.
Lentils are my favorite pulse. Perhaps that’s it because I grew up on them, apart from potatoes. And there was no choice of variety at the time, just one kind of lentil namely the brown one. By now though, lentils in your neighborhood super market come in numerous varieties: in brown, orange and green colours, small or large and so on. Honestly, I like lentils, any size or colour—but not because the FAO wants me to eat them.
Lentils store well, are easy to prepare and provide a healthy meal with carbohydrates and protein. That’s also why the market for lentils is quite steady. Particularly in regions that have little animal protein at reasonable cost, legumes in general and lentils specifically are important nutritional staples.
In recent years, legumes have become a major crop grown in the Canadian prairies. Lentils are the newest addition to that and Manitoba and Saskatchewan are major producers with growing well over 50% of the world’s consumption. Over a short time, Canada has become the world’s main lentil producer.
Those areas in Canada used to grow mostly wheat until a few years ago when their pulse-minded agriculture took off like a rocket from Cape Canaveral and they have not looked back since. Most of that produce though is being exported, largely to Asia, where lentils are more appreciated than on this continent.
However, the folks there eat lentils and other legumes largely for their nutritional value and relatively low cost. That’s why the FAO is keen on promoting 2016 as the Year of the Pulses but it’s not just for those reasons alone. As it so happens, the UN’s drive to stigmatize animal-type protein for “climate protection” reasons certainly is another cog in the wheel.
And therein lies the problem: You may consume all the legumes you like but it would not affect the earth’s climate.
The earth’s climate is controlled by two major parameters, namely the amount of radiation received from the sun (energy input) and the amount of water evaporated from the earth’s surface (energy transfer). Both are orders of magnitude larger than any effect that carbon dioxide could possibly have on the climate.
In other words, eat not just your veggies but the steak too!
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts
Dr. Kaiser can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org