Friday, November 20, 2009

A Bean's Birthday - O Feijão Carioca


This year is the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the carioca bean ( feijão carioca), Brazil's most popular bean. Brazil is the largest produce and consumer of beans in the world - each year approximately 3.5 million tons of beans are grown in Brazil. According to Brazil's Agronomic Institute - Centro Apta de Grãos e Fibras do Instituto Agronômico (IAC) - 85% of the beans eaten in Brazil today are of the carioca variety, 10% are black beans, and the all other varieties total 5%.

A recent article in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper commemorated this anniversary in an interview with Sérgio Augusto Morais Carbonell, the director of the Agronomic Institute. According to Dr. Carbonell, prior to the development and introduction of the carioca bean in 1969, Brazilians ate a wide variety of beans, which varied regionally and seasonally. Common varieties included black, white and red beans, along with roxinho, rosinha, jalo, mulatinho and bolinho. Because the new carioca bean had high nutritive and flavor qualities, as well as a 40% greater yield per hectare (which made it cheaper to buy) than other varieties it was quickly accepted by the Brazilian market and became the dominant bean.


Nearly all Brazilians eat beans daily, along with rice. Normally beans are cooked simply, often in a pressure cooker to reduce the time and energy required to put the beans on the table. In the poorest families, rice and beans may constitute the entire meal; those who are richer eat them alongside some form of animal protein, fruits or vegetables, and salad.

It has long been known that beans are an extremely healthy food. The major health benefit of common beans is their rich source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, and they are high in protein and complex hydrocarbons.Beans are also a good source of phosphorus, iron, protein, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

In a country where poverty and hunger are real concerns, beans are thus an essential part of the nation's diet. So it's only proper that Flavors of Brazil wishes the carioca bean a Happy 40th Birthday!

2 comments:

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