Could beans save the world?
The humble legume is already a staple on dinner tables around the world.
But a coalition of environmental groups say doubling the consumption of beans could help protect the planet and tackle the cost of living crisis.
The new “Beans is How” initiative – coordinated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG2) Advocacy Hub – promotes the foodstuff as a “one size fits all” solution to the climate, health and economic challenges facing the planet.
“Everyone is worried right now: how can we prepare nutritious meals for our families when money is tight? How can we help tackle the climate crisis? says Paul Newnham, Executive Director of the SDG2 Advocacy Hub.
“How can we do something about the 3 billion people on this planet who are malnourished?”
“Beans are how we do it.”
If you’re looking for an excuse to make yourself a plate of Beans on toast, read on.
What are the environmental benefits of eating beans?
Global food production is responsible for a third of all global warming gases emitted by human activity.
But not all foods are created equal. Meat accounts for 60% of total food-related gases, with just one kilo of beef creating 70 kg of emissions.
Livestock grazing is also a huge driver of Deforestationespecially in vulnerable ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest.
Beans release 90% less greenhouse gases than some animal proteins. They also improve soil health, bringing nitrogen into the soil and reducing the need for fertilizer.
However, on average, only 21 g of legumes are consumed per person per day compared to 112 g of Meat.
Reversing this imbalance could reduce stress on the planet, Beans is How campaigners insist.
“I love beans – I cook beans, I grow beans, I eat beans. I’ve never come across a bean I didn’t like. They’re little nuggets of greatness and they have the potential to grow. ‘improving the lives of people around the world,’ said Sam Kass, former White House chief and senior policy adviser for nutrition.
“If we collectively focus on this product that we know is good for us, we can really make a difference. To do this we will need everyone’s help – we will need chefs to put more beans on their menus and make beans sexy,” he added.
Are beans good for cost of living and hunger attacks?
43 million people in 38 countries around the world are at risk of famine or severe hunger crisis, meaning the slightest shock to food systems could rob them of their livelihoods.
But beans are a cheap and protein-rich product alternative to meat. Dried beans cost on average only $1.00 (€0.96) per 500 grams.
New varieties of beans are also constantly being developed. In recent years, bean breeders at the Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) have developed more than 500 new varieties, increasing the nutritional value of the humble legume.
Almost a fifth of the population of Rwanda now eat iron-fortified beans, which provide 80% of the iron needs of young children and non-pregnant women
“Beans, legumes, legumes and peas come in thousands of varieties. Beans are a great crop for farmers, and they are high in protein and iron,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President, former Special Envoy to the UN Food Systems Summit and Beans Champion. .
“Beans are good for you – every time you eat beans you are helping a family have a better income and better nutrition and you are help the soil to regenerate. It’s a super crop in every way,” she said.
The Beans Is How campaign convenes an expert bean science and innovation advisory board to determine how to measure and achieve the goal of doubling consumption.
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