Finger on the pulses

Today 28 January is the UN International Year of Pulses Launch Gala Dinner held by Pulse Australia at the Melbourne Museum. It’s true. And may the gala dinner be a top night because pulses are important.

So who or what are pulses? According to Pulse Australia, grain legumes are generally referred to as ‘pulses’.  The six major pulse groups grown in Australia are chickpea, faba/broad bean, field pea, lentil, lupin and mungbean. In addition, there are a number niche market crops such as azuki bean, navy bean, cowpea, vetch and pigeon pea. Soybean and peanut are leguminous plants and as oilseed crops are not regarded as pulses. Who knew??

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) knows all about pulses and then some. The FAO reports they are an indispensable crop for vulnerable communities in developing countries where they make up 75 percent of the average diet, compared to 25 percent in industrialized countries. Pulses are an affordable alternative to animal protein, containing 20 to 25 percent protein by weight,compared to wheat at 10 percent and meat at 30 to 40 percent. Pulses are also an increasingly important crop for smallholder farmers, particularly female farmers who hold a larger share in the labour force in pulses farming.

Not only that but, pulses production is highly water efficient. Production of daal (split peas or lentils) requires 50 litres of water per kilogram.One kilogram of chicken requires 4325 litres of water, and one kilogram of beef requires 13000 litres of water during production. Their small water footprint makes pulses production ideal in areas prone to drought.

I am now very keen on pulses which is why my wrap is an homage to these crops. I shied away from stock photography – really didn’t do the pulses justice. – and frankly the lentils looked sad. I have used a textured paper to reference the pulses instead. I laboured over the embellishment but finally settled on a charcoal coloured ribbon. Long Live Pulses!!

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