“Pulse crops are the unsung heroes in the realm of food and agriculture production, and much additional education regarding the basic and inherent properties of pulses is required to further the adoption and utilization of these commodities. We hope our book can provide that.”
In 2012, Muhammad Siddiq and Mark Uebersax published the first edition of Dry Beans and Pulses: Production, Processing, and Nutrition. Since then, the book has become required reading for everyone involved in the pulses industry, from nutritionists to growers. With the popularity of pulses ever-increasing and our knowledge ever-expanding, the second edition of Dry Beans and Pulses: Production, Processing, and Nutrition, out February 2022, provides a comprehensive, up-to-date look at the industry as it stands. Kirsten Provan spoke to Mark Uebersax, writer and editor of Dry Beans and Pulses, to get his thoughts on the new release.
The first edition of Dry Beans and Pulses: Production, Processing, and Nutrition was published ten years ago; what was it like to go back to it all these years later? What has changed in the world of pulses since 2012?
So much has changed in the industry, from the types of pulses grown to the types of people buying them. A greater number of processed pulse products has become available to consumers in the last ten years or so. Gluten-free and sustainably produced options now appeal to more than just vegetarians. There is now increasing emphasis from nutritionists and public health officials on the regular consumption of pulses as a healthy food choice. It’s an entirely different landscape from what we saw in 2012; pulses are a staple in so many people’s diets.
What would you say has led to these changes? Why are pulses more popular than ever?
The United Nations officially declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, with a mission to get the world to eat more. This is significant given that the UN had already designated 2013 as the Year of Quinoa, which resulted in the exponential growth of quinoa and quinoa products around the world. This same surge in popularity has been seen in all kinds of pulses.
In addition to this, government and non-government agencies are providing increased funding for pulse processing and nutrition research. For example, in 2018, Michigan State University was awarded US $13.6 million by the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) to lead global legume research. Moreover, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation has even granted funds for legume-based nutritional intervention strategies for pregnant women in Africa. So, clearly, awareness has increased massively over the last ten years. Consumers are more engaged than ever in the pulses industry, though they still require additional education about the uses and nutritional value of pulses.
Do you think the industry will continue to grow in the same way? Where do you imagine we’ll be in another ten years?
Recently, plant-based products have taken the world by storm, with companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods leading the charge. Sustainable, plant-based meals made primarily with pulses are absolutely coming into the spotlight. Pulses, being high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates, are attractive choices as ingredients for consumers looking for meat alternatives. With such a focus now being placed on the planet and sustainable living, as well as the number of people becoming more health-conscious, this is a trend that I can see continuing.
What was the most interesting thing about writing and releasing the second edition? Were you surprised by anything during the process?
The openness and intensity of the authors. We worked with over fifty contributors, and each one was willing to address important issues. The chapter authors are well recognized and have drawn from their focused expertise and practical experience. The book is broad in scope yet rich in content; I’m proud of that.
That sounds inspiring. Given that pulses are constantly evolving, what innovative practice do you find most promising?
I’d say the answer to this is the increased economic feasibility of pulse ingredient processing because of both broad and niche market opportunities. Pulses are increasingly in demand, and consumers are seeking diverse products made from them; that leaves a lot of room for innovation. We cover this heavily in the book, touching on topics such as the processing of dry bean flours and fractions (including extraction of major bean fractions and extraction protocols for protein, starch, and dietary fiber) and the extrusion processing of dry beans and pulses (including extrusion technology and nutritional benefits).
What was your favorite thing you learned this time around that didn’t exist when the first edition was published?
It was interesting to learn about the increased focus of consumer interest in all things sustainable. Sustainability is a trendy topic right now, and something a lot of consumers want to be involved in, which is very positive because pulse crops contribute significantly to establishing sustainable agricultural practices. They are inherently more sustainable than, for example, many cereal crops, as they require less water, contribute to soil fertility and nitrogen fixation and they can survive at relatively high temperatures. Dry beans and pulses also play a vital role in global food security. The fact that many consumers care about these things now will only help the pulses industry grow.
The pulse industry now operates worldwide, and your book offers vital information on production, processing, and value-added practices; how important is it to distribute this knowledge as far as possible? Do you think there’s ever an issue of gatekeeping knowledge in the industry?
The active sharing of relevant information in a dense fashion is the most important thing for making advances in the field. Pulse crops are the unsung heroes in the realm of food and agriculture production, and much additional education regarding the basic and inherent properties of pulses is required to further the adoption and utilization of these commodities. We hope our book can provide that. In this second edition, we’re offering a contemporary source of information that brings together current knowledge and practices in the value chain of production, processing and nutrition. The book is unique in the sense that it includes coverage on production/post-harvest technologies, processing and packing technologies, the significance of pulses for nutrition and human health, quality management and global food security. This value-chain approach to the topic is an important feature of the second edition.
This comprehensive sharing of information is definitely a positive step. What are your thoughts on the role of pulses in emerging economies?
Very positive! Pulses are crucial for economic and social wellbeing. Nutrition and food security will only intensify, and pulses will play a major role in this improvement; it’s a very positive situation. This growth should come from both indigenous production and import markets, both of which will help to create a strong, significant industry. We discuss both the opportunities and challenges for dry beans and pulses in global food security in the second edition of the book, with a focus on topics such as malnutrition and child undernutrition, water crises and climate change, as well as pulses in community development and economic growth for small stakeholders. There are lots of things to consider in this industry, and we hope the book will prove an effective resource for people at every stage of the process.
Pulses are sustainable crops in themselves but do you think there’s enough pressure on big corporations to be sustainable in every step of the process? How does research into the value-added use of pulses help that?
Customers are increasingly driving this need through requests for information and transparency. This is occurring on both the retail and wholesale levels of distribution. Suppliers and processors need reliable third party sources of information that can be trusted; this is rapidly becoming a currency within the business. The industry will need to respond to enable optimal development.
Randy Duckworth, the GPC’s Executive Director, features in the book. What do you think of the work we do here at the GPC?
The GPC is a most professional organization and is conducting work that is essential for improved trade in pulse commodities. Cindy Brown, the current GPC President, is also extremely well respected throughout the world.
This year, we’re hosting Pulses 22, an in-person convention in Dubai. What do you see as the benefits of people from across the industry coming together at an event like this?
The pulse community is a tight-knit group that generally openly shares information. The ability to secure public data about the value and benefits of pulse-based foods is essential for market growth. I’m sure the conference will be an interesting and enlightening experience.
The second edition of Dry Beans and Pulses: Production, Processing, and Nutrition will be out in February. What is it about the release that you’re looking forward to the most? How do you hope the book will aid those in the pulses industry?
This book required significant writing, editing, and coordination. It will be rewarding to view the response to this densely resourced and comprehensive approach to the topics outlined across the twenty-one chapters. In the rewrite, we added some new content, which is presented in various new chapters, including Hard-to-Cook Phenomenon and Other Storage-Induced Quality Defects in Dried Beans and Pulses; Quality Assessment of Raw and Processed Legumes Using Innovative Technologies; Utilization of Dried Beans and Pulses as Ingredients in Diverse Food Products; Faba Bean Production, Processing, Products, and Nutritional Profile. We hope these chapters, and the book as a whole, will prove a fundamental resource for those involved in the pulses industry.
Dry Beans and Pulses: Production, Processing, and Nutrition will be published by Wiley in February 2022; the full details can be found at https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Dry+Beans+and+Pulses+Production%2C+Processing%2C+and+Nutrition%2C+2nd+Edition-p-9781119777113