American farmers plant nearly 2 million acres of edible beans annually. Kennelly Farms, near St. Thomas, North Dakota, contributes about 900 acres to that total each year.
Tom Kennelly operates the 100-year-old farm with his parents, who started growing edible beans in the early 1960s. They currently grow pinto, navy and pink beans. Other crops include corn, soybeans, sugar beets and wheat.
Kennelly says edible beans favor a well-drained soil and require careful rotation management because of chemical restrictions.
The farm utilizes two rotation systems: 1) sugar beets/edible beans/wheat or potatoes, 2) wheat/edible beans/sugar beets.
Kennelly serves as president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, an association of the Minnesota and North Dakota dry bean councils. The organization promotes edible beans and connects bean growers across the region.
He says his edible beans could end up anywhere in the world, depending on the year.
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“They could be in a can of Bush’s beans or in Europe. Our pink beans go to Wendy’s for their chili,” he explains.
For more information about edible bean production, visit www.northarvestbean.org.
Creamy White Bean Soup:
January is the month of the “New You.” Instead of deciding to lose 2 pounds in two weeks, maybe try incorporating more healthy foods into your diet, such as beans. Legumes are a great way to get more protein in your diet. Add a fresh garden salad for some extra health points, and congratulate yourself on a dinner well done. Happy Healthy New Year!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
3 strips center-cut bacon, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1 (19-ounce) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained
1 teaspoon fresh chopped herbs, such as sage or thyme*
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
1. In a stock pot, cook bacon over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and celery; stir and cook until onions become translucent (about 8 minutes).
2. Add chicken stock, beans and herbs to pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Skim off any foam that floats to the top.
3. Working in batches, ladle soup into a blender. Remove vent cap (do not remove entire lid) from blender; use a thick towel to secure, allowing steam to escape while keeping soup inside the blender. Blend until smooth; repeat with remaining soup. (You can also use an immersion blender to puree soup directly in the pot for this step.)
4. Stir in heavy cream for an extra creamy soup, if desired. Top with extra fresh herbs and olive oil for serving, if desired.
*Fresh herbs are best, but if you use dried herbs, use ½ teaspoon instead.
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