How the Humble Bean Went Global

Q. Are there more varieties of beans than there used to be?

A. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture preserves the seeds of nearly 40,000 bean varieties, many of which were first domesticated through wild types thousands of years ago inside tropical fresh World.

Only a few of these varieties, however, are in wide agricultural production. Like many fruit varieties, including several types of apples, beans in many older forms have been lost in recent times in addition to are no longer cultivated.

although agricultural scientists are actively developing fresh varieties, notably beans in which are resistant to disease or drought, or have higher levels of nutrients like iron in addition to zinc. These are especially important in Latin American countries, where beans are a staple of the diet.

The common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L., was introduced to Europe inside late Middle Ages through what are at in which point Mexico, Central America in addition to the Andes, bringing another cheap source of protein to long-established legumes like lentils in addition to broad beans.