Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beans Beans, They're Good for Your Heart....

I'm having an lentils conundrum this morning. On my last trip to the grocery, I purchased bulk lentils rather than canned. I was doing a good thing, I reasoned, since the bulk lentils didn't require any packaging, (yes, I put them in those little plastic bags to be weighed, but I'm reusing the bag and the twisty each time I go to the store) and cost WAY less money per pound.

As I simmer the suckers on my stove for an hour, however, I'm not so sure. Canned lentils are soft already, they don't need to be soaked and boiled. Does this mean that someone already did it in production? Or is it because they were packaged while they were still soft? Are lentils ever soft to begin with? Where to they come from, even? I haven't a clue.

It strikes me I don't know ANYTHING about the foods I consume daily. I legitimately don't know which is the greener choice: Dried beans or canned. How far did they have to travel to get in my tummy? Does the aluminum trump the plastic bag in the ever-constant waste war?

I plan on growing some of my own beans starting this spring, but it's early March! I have to eat something until then! I don't eat meat, and think legumes are important to my nutrition. I just wish I knew what type was most environmentally responsible...

After considerable (ok, half-assed) internet research via the awesome Squakfox and some GreenOptions Blogs , i have the following info to share:

~if you're going to do the dried bean/legume thing you should definitely soak them first! It cuts down on the cooking time (and therefore energy expended) as well as making them cook more evenly and be more digestable.
~dried beans require less energy expenditure in production and packaging, as well as recycling! Woohoo!
~ They are MUCH cheaper, as we've gone over already
~Some bean cans are lined with a plastic polymer called BPA.... which freaks me out! Plus there has to be SOME sort of preservative in there, even when you buy organic canned veggies.
~ When you cook the suckers, use an energy-efficient slow cooker to lessen the impact (I don't have one of these... but will investigate further to see if it will make my possible purchase list.)

Ok, phew! I don't feel so guilty now.

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