Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Lentils; lovely legumes

I forgot to write a post yesterday. My apologies to any of you who noticed. Fortunately, it appears that the world did not come grinding to a sudden halt.

I was going to blog about chickpeas today but apparently I already did that last year. So, lentils it is. Lentils are part of the bean/pulse family. Did you know that Canada is the world’s largest exporter of lentils? The majority of our lentils are grown in Saskatchewan. There are a number of varieties of lentils: red, green, black… Split red lentils will cook very quickly and become quite mushy while whole green lentils take longer to cook and tend to retain their shape quite well. You don’t want to add salt to the cooking water as this will make your lentils tough.

175 ml of (generic) cooked lentils contains 170 calories, only 0.56 g of fat, 13.21 g protein, an impressive 6.2 g fibre, 28 mg calcium, 4.88 mg iron, 53 mg magnesium, 540 mg potassium, and 265 mcg folate. Not too shabby for an inexpensive little pulse.

Lentils are a great addition to soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. While I’m not sold on this website, it was the only link I could find to the simple, delicious, and nutritious Spicy Red Lentils with Spinach recipe from the Nutrition Action Newsletter. I also love this recipe for curried lentil potato soup from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.

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Galen Weston doesn’t care about small farmers

As you may have heard, Galen Weston really put his foot in it at the Canadian Food Summit 2012 yesterday. He made an off-the-cuff comment about how some day farmers’ markets are going to kill people. Naturally, that enraged many farmers in the room and others of us who support local food and community food security. I found it especially ironic as Maple Leaf Foods was one of the conference sponsors. Sure, people might get food poisoning from foods sold at a farmers market but that’s going to have a far less widespread effect than an outbreak in a food distributed by a national supermarket chain. Moving on…

Another thing that Galen mentioned was that Canada could become the world’s leading producer of pulses if we undertake a strategy like that of Brazil in cornering the orange market. I like that he recognized that we’re a major producer of pulses. I also like that pulses are an affordable and nutritious food; a high-fibre, low-fat meat alternative. However, I’m concerned about putting all of our eggs (or legumes/pulses) in one basket. Do we really want to be financially dependent on one crop? Personally, I think it’s better to diversify. Mixed farms are far more sustainable and efficient than large scale mono-crop farms. Growing one type of food is not the answer to Canada’s agricultural industry.