Friday, July 25, 2008

The Magical Fruit

My garden is finally producing abundant beans. This year I did not plant enough in the sunnier part of the garden, so bean abundance has been a bit late. (Beans are so productive that they produce even in partial shade. Many garden vegetables do nothing at all in partial shade.)
Beans are one of the foods that were developed in the Americas. Other American-developed fruits and vegetables are tomatoes, corn (maize) including sweet corn, potatoes, squash and pumpkins, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. European diets were pretty boring before Columbus.

Green beans are best when picked young and tender. We prepare them by steaming them. Some people like them al dente; I do not. If steamed too long, they get mushy. When we have abundance, we have more beans than we can eat at one meal, and then I can eat them cold for lunch the next day. After many summers of fresh green beans, I have a hard time eating canned or frozen green beans. They are just so inferior to fresh beans.

If you let green beans ripen, you can harvest the seeds and used them as dried beans, which are an excellent source of protein. In fact, dried beans were once used as an example to illustrate the economic concept of inferior good, a good which people used less of as their incomes rose. As people got richer, they could afford meat, so they dropped dried beans from their diet.

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit. Eat lots of vegetables and then you can survive many desserts.

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