Rambling through the countryside of Kent and Essex in the spring and summer months, one gets to know a lot about what crops are grown. In addition to the fields of wheat and rapeseed, there are many fields devoted to growing the fava bean, 170,000 hectares in the UK as a whole. The enterprising walker may well stop and pick a few because there are so many of them!
Most of the pulses we eat in the UK are imported. The fava bean is one that has been grown here since the Iron Age. Delicious, nutritious and good for the soil, fava beans are a variety of broad bean, Vicia faba, left to ripen and dry before harvest.
So why don’t these beans feature in our markets and shops? The answer: they are exported to Egypt where they feature prominently in many key dishes, or else are fed to livestock in the UK!
The seminar being held on Tuesday July 28th will be looking at land use in the UK. We know that 70% of land is used for agriculture and the majority of that for raising livestock or growing crops to feed livestock. With the need to reduce land for livestock for ecological reasons it seems that growing the fava bean for our direct consumption would make a sensible and sustainable use of land. It will also help with achieving food sovereignty. A good idea?