I listen to public radio.
On the 7/16 episode of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! there is a discussion of peas and legumes. I was surprised and thrilled by this moment because it wasn’t just a one-liner. The banter on this topic lasted about two minutes and though not strictly accurate, it was a great gateway to some food education.
The discussion is in the first ‘chapter’ of the show, starting about 5 minutes into the podcast if you care to listen. Peter Sagal (mis)names a very official sounding organization that I believe is the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council.
So here we go, based on information from Wikipedia and the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council. The term ‘legume’ is interchangeable with pea, bean and pulse. It refers to any fruit of the Leguminosae (aka Fabaceae) family. These are flowering plants that develop their fruit in –sometimes edible– pods. The fruit is released when the pod dehisces, which is to say opens along the veins on the side of the pod. The fruit is what we eat. Examples include sugar snap peas (we eat the pod and the fruit), peanuts (we eat just the fruit, and have to help the pod dehisce by cracking it), chickpeas, black beans etc.
Legumes are great partner crops because they fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants.
Legumes are great for you because they are gorgeous:
So go earn your 9 points in Scrabble (R) and remember it’s leg-yoom.