Beans vs Legumes vs Pulses

Happy Year of Pulses! The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2016 the Year of Pulses, so I've decided to do a blog series discussing what pulses are and why they are important. This is just one of many posts discussing the magical world of beans and other pulses. To learn more check out some of my other posts here.

Legumes are nitrogen fixing plants in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) that are generally used for human or livestock food or as green manure.  Fabaceae is an incredibly diverse family with almost 20,000 species worldwide. A couple of these species that are considered to be legumes include beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, alfalfa, clover, soybeans, peanuts, and lupins. Legume comes from the Latin word Legere meaning “to gather”.

The word pulse refers to a subgroup consisting of the dried edible seeds of plants that are in the legume family. Common pulses include dry beans, dried peas, chickpeas,and lentils. Soybeans, peanuts, and fresh peas and beans are not pulses. The word pulse comes from the ancient Roman porridge like bean dish called puls.

Beans consists of the large seeds of several genera in the family Fabaceae. There are two types of beans: old world beans and new world beans.  Old world beans consist of favas, chickpeas, lentils, vetches, soybeans and lupines. These were all domesticated in Europe and Asia (aside from the lupines, which were domesticated simultaneously in Latin America).  New world beans are all in the genus Phaseolus and are often what people associate with beans. These beans were all domesticated in the Americas and include tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius), common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), and runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus). New world beans will be the focus of this series as they are the most common and most diverse beans here in the United States. All new world beans were once domesticated by the native peoples of the Americas, although some have been altered by European breeding. For this reason, new world beans are of particular cultural importance.  

Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. 

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