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The Bean Scene
June 21, 2007

Northarvest at N.D. State Capitol

At Ag Day held during the N.D. legislative session at the state capitol in Bismarck, dry bean growers Mike Beltz (middle), Hillsboro and Don Streifel, Washburn, assisted Northarvest home economist Lynne Bigwood in handing out educational materials to state lawmakers.  The days events were coordinated by the North Dakota Agriculture Department and included a lunch featuring products from each of the exhibitors, including baked beans from Northarvest.

Beans have major role in WIC program

The Women, Infant, and Children program serves low income, pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk. Nationally, WIC serves over 8.2 million mothers, infants and children, with nutrition services  the centerpiece of WICs program mission.

In fact, the Minnesota Department of Health even has a FAQs section on its web site, with bean cooking and nutrition information (

Lynne Bigwood represented Northarvest at the Minnesota Department of Health WIC
Staff Conference held this spring in Brooklyn Center, Minn.  She helped people seeking information and ways to help their clients learn to use dry beans, sharing Northarvests new pinto and dry bean class posters along with 250 of the ever popular bean cookbook.

Bigwood also represented Northarvest at the National WIC
Staff Conference in Pittsburgh this spring, distributing educational materials.  She notes that over 2,000 cookbooks were ordered after the conference to be used at local sites.

One of the National WIC leaderships goals has been to change the basic USDA food package, including canned beans rather than just dry beans.  They believe that their clients would be more likely to purchase and use canned beans.  Lifestyles have changed, and canned beans would be more in line with the food products that a majority of the
U.S. population uses.

Beans for breakfast?

The importance of breakfast is often stated, but exactly what you eat for breakfast is understated, and was an issue discussed at the N.D. Nutrition Council and N.D. Dietetic Association spring meeting, in which Northarvests Lynne Bigwood participated.

For example, eating a cereal breakfast with 1 cup of Wheaties or Cheerios, ½ cup skim milk, ½ cup strawberries, 1 cup orange juice equals 280 calories.  A bagel breakfast consisting of ½ of a large bagel, 1 tablespoon cream cheese and 1 tablespoon jam is also 280 calories.  The cereal breakfast delivers the same calories, but is rich in nutrients and fiber in every food, while the bagel breakfast has very little fiber, no fruit and is higher in fat.

It was noted that in
China and Israel, it is common for veggies to be eaten at breakfast.   Fruit is more likely to be eaten at an American breakfast compared to veggies, yet Americans eat an average of 1½ servings of fruit a day, less than half of whats recommended.

Nutrient rich foods help start the day off right.  In fact, Live Well!  Enjoy Nutrient-Rich Foods is a message that has been developed by a coalition of nutrient-rich food promotion groups to help interpret the message of My Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines to everyday eating.  It is a consumer-friendly way to describe nutrient dense foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts.

The term nutrient dense has been used by nutrition educators in the past to define food quality, but hasnt really registered with consumers.  Nutrient rich, however, is a change in semantics that registers better with consumers.  Expect to see more references in the future to nutrient-rich foods  which include beans  that pack nutrition and make calories count.

RRV Living Ag Classroom attracts over 2,000

The Living Ag Classroom held this spring at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo was attended by over 2,000 fourth graders from 42 area schools. Ginger Knutson, retired elementary teacher, assisted Lynne Bigwood with a Bean Crazy game directed at kids.

Branston baked beans enhanced with omega-3

Premier Foods, the UKs biggest food producer, recently gave a line of its canned baked beans a makeover, enhancing the products healthy profile by adding omega-3 fatty acids.  According to the American Heart Association, Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of  or who have  cardiovascular disease.  Omega-3 is one of the fastest growing areas of nutritional product development. reported that Premiers launch of a new line of its branded Branston baked beans with fish oils will be called Branstein baked beans, a nod to the supplements benefit to cognitive development, amongst other benefits.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the European omega-3 market is expected to grow at rates of 8% on average to 2010.  The packaged goods market has been left wide open for health and wellness trends to make their mark following the demise of the low carb trend in recent years, according to ProductScan Online.

Branstein baked beans taste like the regular version of the product, but a 210g serving contains 17% of
UKs recommended daily intake of omega-3. An entire can of Branstein beans contains 34%.


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
Ph: 218-334-6351 | Fax: 218-334-6360 | Email: