Beans and cornbread—a Saturday night staple in many parts of the country. But who really cares beans about this homely, low-cost food? Well, many of us do. As Americans have become more health conscious, we’ve consumed more beans. Today, we eat almost 8 pounds per person each year. Pinto and navy beans account for 5 of those pounds, eaten mostly as refried beans (pintos) or as canned pork and beans (navy).
In all, U.S. growers harvested over 3 billion pounds of edible dried beans in 1998, worth over $600 million. But despite beans’ familiarity and popularity, few of us are aware of the surprising amount of science to be found in an inexpensive can full of convenience and nutrition. Key players in this science are the plant breeders who painstakingly work at developing new varieties with characteristics important to growers, processors, and consumers. North Dakota State and Michigan State universities have the two largest such programs in the country, both breeding varieties in all market classes of U.S. beans. But they are two of just a few bean breeding programs.
Dr. George Hosfield, from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, imparts his knowledge from over 24 years of research in some excerpts from the “Bringing you Better Beans” article from the Agricultural Research Magazine. To read the full article please click below.