Monday, June 5, 2017

Jared and the Wild Bean

 A modern version of "Jack and the Beanstalk"
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

A modern day Jared, the boy scholar who popularized the wild bean. Wild Lima Beans or patani (Phaseolus lunatus) was first domesticated by the natives living on the Andes mountain of Peru some 2,000 years BC.
On the the slopes of the Andes mountains, lived a family of indigenous origin. People would describe the region as "far from civilization," as if only those living in town are regarded civilized. 

There was this boy, the only child of that family who wished to live in town.  "No, you are a stranger there." his parents would say.  "Beside it is very expensive to live in town." For indeed up on the slope, everything is free that land, water and air can give. And there is peace and quiet no town can provide.  

Until one day the boy stumbled on a kind of plant that grows up on trees. There it bore pods, plenty of them, green when young and on maturity split open and spill the seeds to the ground. The seeds germinate and produce more pods the following season. The family soon learned to cook it as part of their diet, specially when there was little food around.  

Then a year came when the rains did not arrive as people expected.  It was due to the effects of El Niño - a period of drought that starts at the lower part of Peru.  

The boy's parents by experience knew the grave consequence.  Even if you have money you cannot buy anything.  So people looked for alternative food. On hearing this the boy brought the wild beans to town. At first people did not know what it was, until they learned how good it is to eat the beans with their own recipes.   

Secretly the boy brought more of his secret beans. And he made a lot of money. 

After the great drought which lasted for three years, the boy left the slopes to live in town. His parents followed to live with him. 

People wondered where the bean that saved them from hunger came from. The search was far and wide but to no avail.  

Until a boy scholar was able to trace the trail leading to the upper slopes of the Andes. There in a clearing among trees he saw the secret bean, a liana with pods dangling from the trees it made into its own trellis. Jared, the boy scholar took some mature seeds and studied them in school. 

He popularized the bean we know it today as Phaseolus lunatus, or Lima bean, after the capital of Peru. And lunatus for its moon-shape seeds.  Its native name patani survives to this day to places it was introduced which includes the Philippines.   

As to the boy who brought the wild bean downtown, no one had ever heard of him again. But the people in town remembered him whenever the cyclical El Niño struck. 

And Jared, the boy scholar? The one who tamed the wild bean. To them it's a fairy tale. ~ 

NOTE: Today, Lima bean is one of the important legume in the world. It is a good source of dietary fiber, and a virtually fat-free source of high quality protein. It contains both soluble fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which aids in the prevention of constipation, digestive disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis.

Like other legumes Lima beans harbor symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobia within the nodules clinging on their roots.  These bacteria convert N2 or free Nitrogen into Nitrates (NO3). Nitrates combine with other elements to form compounds needed by plants and other organisms. Wikipedia

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