one green planet
one green planet
Beans: The Quintessential Sustainable Suburban Staple

Beans are a tremendously nutritious food source and have an incredible array of benefits that make it one of the most valuable natural food products in the world. One cup of beans or lentils counts as a serving of vegetables, and contains anywhere from 200 to 230 calories. In addition, beans are a great source of folate, a B vitamin important for red blood cells, as well as iron, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide a strong non-meat source of protein, and increase the amount of fiber in your diet.

As was the case in antiquity and for generations prior, what makes beans so useful as a staple of suburban living is not just their nutritional value but their ability to sprout in virtually any condition. All around, the bean is one of the best things you could consume on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at the nutritional qualities of five particular kinds of beans:

Black beans

What is it? The antioxidant-rich black bean is notable for its short vines and white black seeds and white hilum. It has always been a regular part of the South American diet and was first domesticated in Peru.

Why we love it: Like most beans, it is great addition in a plant-based diet because of how much protein it contains. Black beans are also high in fiber, folate, and the trace mineral molybdenum and helps with a variety of bodily functions, including blood pressure regulation and digestion.

Where to use it: In pretty much any meal, the black bean adds a delicious a nutritious punch. It is especially tasty with guacamole, hot sauce and tortillas.

Kidney beans

What is it? A type of field bean harvested as mature dry seeds that require minimal care-taking after their harvest, making them typically free of pesticides.

Why we love it: Kidney beans contain 22% protein, 5% fiber and a rich variety of vitamins and minerals.

Where to use it: Incorporate into a delicious chili, or use for the standard red beans and rice.

Garbanzo beans

What is it? Sometimes known as the chickpea, this legume is one of the earliest cultivated vegetables.

Why we love it: They are full of zinc, folate and protein, low in fat and can help with insulin sensitivity and diabetes.

Where to use it: In a variety of Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, most notably as the main ingredient in hummus.

White beans

What is it? Also popularly known as the navy bean, white beans are found in both short and long vine variety and require fastidious care-taking

Why we love it: Because of their high levels of protein, iron, and zinc navy beans are a natural meat alternative. They are also extremely high in fiber, have a low glycemic index, and are chocked full of vitamins and minerals.

Where to use it: Like black beans, the white bean can be used in a variety of dishes. Maybe cook them up in a creamy pasta sauce, or in a raw salad with tomatoes.


What is it?  This East Asian legume native is classified as an oilseed rather than a pulse.

Why we love it: Considered by many to be a complete source of protein which contains all the essential amino acids, soybeans are one of the healthiest, most rejuvenating foods in existence.

Where to use it: Soybeans can be used as textured vegetable protein, as a meat substitute, as a fermented bean paste, as a vegetable oil, and even as a protein for animal feeds. Some chefs use it as a standard base ingredient.

The above legumes also provide a sustainable way to stretch out any short-term food storage you accumulated in case of an emergency. By opting to buy several pounds of beans and lentils when preparing for the worst, instead of spending money on freeze-dried and canned items, you save money while also ensuring such a large food source will be sustainable. As far as emergency food storage goes, beans are a must-have.

Without a doubt, incorporating a variety of homegrown beans into your diet is one of the most sustainable ways to live. Given the multitude of bean types and the fact that bean-based recipes are nearly as endless as a homemade bean supply itself, not to mention the limited about of work that goes into harvesting beans, there’s no reason those serious about sustainability aren’t making homegrown beans a central component of their diet.

Fran Constigan -- Contributor, One Green PlanetJenna Smith is a college student in the heart of the Midwest, Saint Louis! She believes that “going green” isn’t a phase, fad, or trend. Instead it is something to invest yourselves in because the more people who are truly green instead of those “going green” the world will be a better place. When Jenna isn’t writing or studying you can find her near the Saint Louis Arch or Forrest Park.

Image Source: Cookbookman17/Flickr

Help keep One Green Planet free and independent! Together we can ensure our platform remains a hub for empowering ideas committed to fighting for a sustainable, healthy, and compassionate world. Please support us in keeping our mission strong.