The superfood: a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. By this definition, the garbanzo bean is most certainly a superfood. An excellent source of plant-based protein, the beloved legume goes by many names—chickpea, Egyptian pea, chana, and ceci bean—and can be roasted, fried, blended, baked, mashed, you name it. No matter what you call it or how you cook it, most will agree that its gastronomic lure lies in the nourishing, nutty flavor and easy preparation.
We also love the garbanzo for its myriad health benefits, including high percentage of insoluble fibre; the kind of fibre that travels all the way to the end of your digestive tract and provides fuel to the cells of your intestinal lining (supporting gut health). Not only does it benefit your digestion, but this overachieving protein source also helps balance blood-sugar levels, ward off cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and can help strengthen bones and combat inflammation. All this is due to a high vitamin and mineral content. On the roster: vitamins B6 and K, magnesium, folate, iron, phosphorus, copper, choline, manganese, and selenium. With a resume this impressive, it is quite clear why we choose to weave garbanzos into our One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted O’s cereals.
Equally as impressive are Dr. Raul Figueroa of Natural Food SRL and Emanuel Monchietti of Agroshad SA farm. As part of our dedication to total food transparency, we travelled to Cordoba, Argentina to speak to them about their food and farming philosophies and growing organic chickpeas.
“I started with my brother five years ago because a friend of ours suggested we start a business,” recalls Raul, who also works as a local physician. We really enjoy every day… I’m always working with preventative medicines—more of the same.”
“There is a new movement in the world; a need to change,” adds Emanuel. “Conventional farming is causing lots of damage to populations, to the soil, and to the environment. We need to start working in different ways—without GMOs and without chemicals to control insects and weeds.”
The chickpea growth and harvest cycle can be long, unique, and temperamental. The beans grow in dry climates and require little water compared to other crops, but timing is of the essence; over ripened crop may result in a lower yield, while harvesting too early can affect the quality of the bean. Luckily, Emanuel and Raul have it down to a science. “One hundred per cent of the health of the crop we owe to the soil,” says Emanuel. “The first and most important thing for me is the crop rotation. It’s the most important thing we do while farming, and we analyze the soil a few times a year to help us see if the rotation is working and if we need any kind of fertilization in the soil.” Chickpeas and other legumes lend themselves well to crop rotation, as they tend to drink up only the shallow water in the soil, allowing grains and other crops access to deeper reserves on off years.
“We produce with our own farmers,” explains Raul. “But we also work with associated producers. In some cases, we provide them with seeds, but the most important thing to us is to work together. We aren’t the classic traders who go only at harvest and buy the beans. We always work towards long term relationships. We learn from our producers, and the producers in turn can learn from our experience.”
We are proud to work with experienced, passionate farmers like Raul and Emanuel who see value in every step of the cultivation process and are proud to use their delicious garbanzos in our One Degree Organics foods.