As pulse crop farmers continue to face market uncertainties because of ongoing trade disruptions with key export markets like China and India, growing demand here at home is at least providing some support.
And some of that support is coming from Montana State University-Bozeman students who have a growing appetite for food made with pulse crops.
Everyday Montana State University’s Culinary Services feeds over 10,000 students in campus dining halls like the Rendezvous Dining Pavilion. And during Montana Pulse Day in Bozeman, attendees heard from Executive Chef Jill Flores about her effort to serve more food on campus made with Montana pulses.
“I think it's really important for them to get to see how we are integrating pulses into the food service and the process that it takes from the quantity, to ordering, to the cooking and the delivery” said Flores. “I think it helps give them an idea on their end what they can produce for us or what items we can use in the dining hall in order to collaborate with each other.”
For pulse growers like Sam Arnson from Williston, North Dakota, who also farms in Montana, it’s really good to see in person where some of the pulses they raise actually end up.
“A lot of times when the stuff leaves the farm you never know where it's going or what the end product looks like” said Arnson. “And it's good to see the young kids, especially the rural Montana, kids coming here and they're actually eating what maybe their family grows on the farm. So, it's really good to see this.”
Executive Chef Flores says they try not to utilize pulses like peas, lentils and chickpeas in their basic form when preparing recipes and meals.
“So, you won't just find boiled beans by themselves, but you'll find lentil pizzas and blended lentil burger” said Flores. “And we have several different flavors of hummus. We do several different types of pilafs with blends of lentils, with rice and those type items.”
Pulse growers agree that this is just another great example of some of the education being done on their behalf by organizations like the Northern Pulse Growers Association and USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council to increase consumer demand for pulses.
Montana and North Dakota continue to lead the nation in pulse crop production and farmers are hoping that 2020 will bring higher prices for the peas, lentils and chickpeas they’re raising.