Beans are a food item that is often the butt of many a joke (pun only slightly intended - it's late on a Thursday night and I'm feeling a little punchy). But the truth is they are a dietary staple for much of the world, being an inexpensive and available source of vegetable protein and fiber for millions of people in nearly every country on the planet. Beans come in a rainbow of colors and flavors with different cultures making use of different varieties - think of Mexican black beans and rice, or Southern black eyed peas, or even a French cassoulet. The thing the all have in common is the unpretentious bean.
In Native American culture, beans were one of the "Three Sisters" along with corn and squash - one of the oldest examples of "companion planting" in which plants are intermingled to the mutual benefit of each.
Read more about The Better Bean and the small business start up assistance they received from Portland Community College Recipe to Market Program
From Better Bean Proprietor, Keith Kullberg
1) What types of products do you specialize in? The Better Bean Company is pioneering freshly prepared beans as an alternative to canned beans. They come refrigerated like salsa not canned as so have a gourmet flavor that is not mushy and overcooked like canned beans and without the BPAs. We make Refried Red Beans, Refried Black Beans and a Caribbean Style Beans. We have a two step cooking process. We first boil the beans and then sauté them in central Oregon safflower oil and spices. The sautéing makes the same difference as barbecuing a steak vs boiling it in water and gives them the authentic flavor found south of the border. Our black beans come from Oregon’s Snake River Valley and our red beans from Idaho’s Magic Valley. We have additional product planned for the future.
2) What are your biggest challenges in operating a farm/business? And what makes it all worth it? The biggest challenge is creating customer awareness for a new product category. What makes it worth it is the smile on our customer’s faces when they taste how good beans can be.
3) What food policy issues do you think are critical to the future of agriculture in Oregon? Supporting small family farms, non-GMO produce and preventing Monsanto from monopolizing farmers seed supply.
4) Why do you chose Montavilla Farmers Market to sell your products? We understand it is strongly supported and popular in the neighborhood. We think it is a progressive neighborhood and are looking forward to being part of the market.
6) What food/agriculture related book, magazine or movie would you recommend? Food Inc., Beans, a History by Ken Abala.