by Jamie Cross
On February 10, 2019, the United Nations recognized the first annual World Pulses Day. This day built off of the success of the International Year of Pulses (IYP) 2016 and is used each year as an opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of growing and consuming pulses. Pulses are more than just a nutritious addition to a healthy diet; they promote sustainable food systems and help contribute to a #ZeroHunger world.
What are pulses?
Without realizing it, you are likely incorporating pulses into your diet already! Pulses are the edible seeds of plants from the legume family. There are 11 categories of pulses but hundreds of varieties to choose from. Some common varieties include black beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.
Pulses are packed with nutrients and have a high protein content. They are also low in fat and high in soluble fibre which all combined makes them an excellent choice to include in your regular diet.
Pulses also have many environmental benefits. Their nitrogen fixing properties improve soil fertility, increasing and extending the productivity of farmland. They can also help reduce the dependency on synthetic fertilizers which are used to introduce nitrogen artificially into soil.
Pulses in Canada
Over time, Canada has developed a multi-billion dollar pulse industry. In 2017, Canadian famers produced more than 7.1 million tonnes of pulses, making pulses Canada’s fifth largest crop overall. Canadian pulses meet the needs of 130 markets around the world and Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of lentils.
How does GlobalMedic use pulses?
When we were creating our Emergency Food Program, one of our three guiding goals was to create a meal that would contribute to a nutritious diet. In our Emergency Meal created for our response in Syria, green lentils are a primary ingredient. They provide the meal, Mujaddara, with an excellent source of protein, are a familiar ingredient to the families receiving the meals, and simply taste great.
This World Pulses Day, GlobalMedic volunteers will be packing Emergency Food Kits to support Syrian families affected by ongoing conflict. Since December 2019, increased aggression has caused the displacement of an additional 586,000 people. 200,000 people were displaced between January 26, 2020 and February 2, 2020 alone. The number of people in need is growing, and the Emergency Food Kits packed this World Pulses Day are an important aspect of GlobalMedic’s ongoing response in Syria.
Whether the idea of pulses is new to you or they are already a part of your regular diet, we encourage you to celebrate World Pulses Day on February 10, 2020. Perhaps try a new recipe which includes a bean you haven’t tried or grab your favourite crackers and some hummus. While you’re eating pulses of your own, consider donating to GlobalMedic to help support our Emergency Food Program and get nutritious meals that include pulses to the people who need it most.