Seed World

Feed the World, Help the Environment and Make Great Beer: Cool Beans Can Do It All

Imagine a crop that can be used to help secure sufficient food for a growing global population, benefit the environment and brew fantastic beer. There is one – several in fact: pulses. The James Hutton Institute has joined forces with Barney’s Beer in Edinburgh and Abertay University in Dundee – through joint PhD student Kirsty Black – to create the new ‘Cool Beans’ Faba Bean IPA.

Dr Pete Iannetta, an agricultural ecologist at the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences group and leader of the EU-funded TRUE research project, said: “Crops such as faba or field beans are high in what we call resistant starch or ‘slow energy release’ carbohydrate to help improve gut-health via their pre-biotic capacity and so lower blood-sugar levels, or glycaemic index, to help tackle diabetes and safeguard good cardiovascular function. This can prolong good energy levels and offset feelings of hunger. Beans also offer high levels of protein, without salt and cholesterol, plus essential minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium. They are also gluten-free.

“Beans foster sustainable food production, as they require no synthetic nitrogen fertiliser – half the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser which is applied to other crops is lost to pollute water systems or contribute to greenhouse gases. Crops like beans can access (or ‘fix’) atmospheric nitrogen into biologically useful forms, an ability they derive from a unique symbiosis with a certain type of soil bacteria found in their roots.

“Some of the fascinating possibilities offered by pulses are the subject of close study by scientists at the James Hutton Institute, from their use to improve soil qualities to health foods for humans and feed for animals and fish, including novel uses.”

To mark the launch, Barney’s Beer posted on their Facebook page: “‘Cool Beans’ Faba Bean IPA is an environmentally sustainable beer which also happens to be our first gluten-free product.

“You may recognise the concept from our previous prototypes ‘Fe Fi Fo’, ‘Tundra IPA’ and ‘Jack IPA’; and that’s because us, the James Hutton Institute and Kirsty Black on behalf of Abertay University have been working on perfecting this brew for the past 6 years”.

“We’ve brewed with faba beans because they’re doing magical things for the sustainability of the food and drinks industry. These little legumes are nitrogen-fixing, meaning they can create their own nutrients and leave them behind in their soil, reducing the need for unsustainable synthetic fertilisers.”

Dr Iannetta added: “Bean products go beyond great beer and sustainable farming. We aim to be more efficient with our natural resources and enhance the value of the brewing co-product, or spent-grains, which are greatly enriched by the high levels of protein which is isolated during the process.

“The co-product is now being developed for novel food and animal feed applications, and the approach is drawing a lot of attention from businesses at home at abroad for the high sustainable economic development that home-grown beans offer.”

Sunday 10th February 2019 will be the first-ever World Pulse Day, a global event to celebrate pulses worldwide and continue the important gains made with 2016’s International Year of Pulses. For more information, visit the Global Pulses Confederation website.

Source: The James Hutton Institute