Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is touting new Farm Bill programs that promote pulse crop nutritional research and inclusion in school menus.
Crapo recently teamed with the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council to meet with a health class at Jennifer Junior High School in Lewiston, Idaho.
Crapo and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., worked to include support for pulse research and marketing in the new Farm Bill.
The research effort looks further into the values and benefits of pulses like peas, chickpeas, dry beans and lentils.
“These are incredibly important foods in terms of health sciences in terms of their high fiber and high protein content, and the other various vitamins and minerals they contain,” Crapo told the Capital Press. “This research will help us to better understand their value and their uses in our federal nutrition programs.”
Crapo said producers will see an expansion of markets for the programs, which translates to a stronger industry. Idaho is one of the top pulse-producing states in the nation, he said.
“Already, we’re seeing significant increases of the utilization of peas, chickpeas, lentils and dry beans by people across the country and the world,” he said, pointing to the use of chickpeas in hummus, an increasingly popular dip.
The new bill also includes a pilot program for pulses in school meals and increases availability of pulses for school lunch programs, Crapo said.
Crapo and the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council provided a sample of a cake using pulse crops.
Crapo felt students received the products favorably.
“There was very broad acceptance and appreciation, and an indication that they would love to have that as part of their menu,” he said. “I think there would be a very strong reception of this product, of this food, and it would be a very healthy improvement in support of our school nutrition programs.”
Crapo also tried the cake.
“It was very tasty,” he said.
The programs have been authorized in the Farm Bill. Crapo said the next step in Congress is appropriating the funding for the research programs as the budget for the year is implemented.