Pulses – the healthy waste “less” food

Do you know that every year approximately one third of the world’s food production goes to waste?1 Besides representing a waste of money, time and energy, wasted food ends up in landfills and serves as one of the main sources of greenhouse gases.2 So what is one of the strategies we can use to reduce the amount of food waste? Buy and consume more pulses!

Pulses_Food Tank2016 just so happens to be the International Year of the Pulses. However, do you know that pulses actually have a low food wastage impact? Well they do. Compared to other commodities such as cereals, vegetables and starchy roots, pulses have one of the lowest carbon and water footprints, making them an environmentally friendly source of vital nutrients. Why is their impact on the environment so low? The main reason is that pulses are highly water efficient; in other words, pulses do not need as much water to grow, produce and/or consume, especially in comparison to other sources of protein.3 For instance, one kilogram of cooked beef requires 10 times the amount of water than one kilogram of daal.4 Pulses also require a minimal amount of processing and no refrigeration so there is limited natural resource consumption during the latter stages of the food system. Pulses are also shelf stable, so they can be stored for a lengthy period of time and not spoil or lose nutritional value.

So why are we telling you all this? Besides all the health and environmental benefits from pulses, production of pulses is one of the lowest compared with other commodities including cereals and vegetables. Raising awareness of the benefits can help to increase production, reduce overall food waste, and provide a more sustainable food system.

The Food Waste Challenge of the Month

Purchase a different pulse each week of March and create a meal of it at least once during that week. Share your recipes with us!

1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2015). The food wastage footprint of pulses. www.fao.org/pulses-2016/news/news-detail/en/c/357534/

2 David Suzuki Foundation (2014). Help end food waste. www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/help-end-food-waste/

3 FAO. (2015).

4 FAO. (2015).