Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beans

Red Baron not only loves beans but all sorts of pulses. My love for beans is some sort of atavism for I remember well 1946, the year of malnutrition when my father came home with a sack full of colorful horse beans. So we had beans as a soup, mashed, and as a side dish and I loved them. My favorite dish is fava beans with bacon while black beans are best in any form.

The other day I read an article in Freiburg's Sunday paper Der Sonntag about soybeans. This rang another bell. As a graduate student in Munich I frequently listened to the American Forces Network (AFN) and learned that soybeans are a traded commodity and Mickey Mantle is a baseball legend.

©dpa
Soybeans are high-quality fodder and the basis for bean curd (tofu) too. Those magic protein-rich beans are an American export hit world-wide. Here in Germany US soybeans are mostly known for being genetically modified. So farmers on the Upper Rhine saw a market-niche satisfying an increasing number of vegans who are looking for Biotofu (organic bean curd). Demand exceeds the supply although areas under cultivation have doubled over the past two years to 7000 hectares (17,000 acres). Only beekeepers are pouting for soybeans provide no nutrition to bees.

Soybeans love warm weather, need temperatures of at least 6 °C, have a vegetation period of 150 to 180 days, and require soil temperatures of at least 10 °C while germinating. With climate change the Upper Rhine Plain is becoming an ideal region for soybean cultivation. Where grapes grow, soybeans grow too. While young plants have problems fighting weeds herbicides are taboo in organic farming. Instead of labor-intensive hoeing and plowing the trick is to seed soybeans together with rye, the latter serving as a shield against weeds. It is like mulching, a farmer explained.

Be assured friends, America remains first, we are not going to export our beans.

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