Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sprouts and civil disobedience

I get really fired up when the topic of seed patenting comes up.  I can't believe we live in a world where governments allow companies to patent life.  With these patents, companies are able to stop farmers from saving seed - a practice as old as agriculture, and force growers to be financially enslaved to one more thing (another "thing" being big oil) buying new seed year after year.  Don't even get me started on Monsanto.  There's a pretty decent article here that talks about their shining example of  unconscionable corporate greed.  How do we let this happen?

While I was looking up some information on the benefits of eating sprouts, I found articles about legal battles over sprout production.  Do you know about the Broccoli Sprout Saga?  In brief, some Dr.'s from John Hopkins University were granted sole rights to broccoli sprout production.  They formed a company, Brassica Protection Products, and set out to exercise their dominion over all things broccoli sprouts (evil laugh, heads tossed back, finger tips drumming together).  They sued independent growers, intimidated others out of production, and a whole legal battle ensued.  Finally, after years of litigation and appeals, the independent growers won and now broccoli sprouts can legally be grown by sprout people over the world.  What?  Of COURSE they can!  Doesn't it seem absurd that this conversation is even happening?  It defies basic understanding of the laws of nature to think that companies should have control over such things.  But they do, and the conversations and legal battles ARE happening, and it's important that we pay attention - especially when it comes to the right to produce our own food.

No Patents on Seed has some good information on important patent cases.  Check it out.

I digress.  The point I'm getting to is that the closer we can get to the production of the food that we put into our mouths, the better off we are.  Nobody wants to support abuse with their food choices, and yet many of us do so by remaining disconnected from the reality of where our food comes from.  And while lots of us don't have the time or the resources to grow our own gardens, we can all grow sprouts in our kitchens.  It's easy, it's satisfying, it puts a tiny bit of food production into our hands, and it introduces all kinds of goodness into our diets.  In a world where corporations want to have control over who grows what, when, where, and how, it's exercising a basic human right that may actually be under threat.  Sprouting as activism!

Sprouts are living foods, buzzing with enzymatic activity that can help re-vitalize sluggish digestion,  while supplying us with a wide array vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.  Click here for a look at the nutritional value of a cup of sprouted mung beans.  Click here for more general information on the nutritional benefits of sprouts.

General instructions for bean sprouts.  
Mung beans and lentils are nice and easy - a good place to start.

1.  Rinse well and soak the beans 
(mung only need to be soaked a few hours, bigger beans take more time)

2.  Once soaked, keep them moist.  You can do this in a shallow bowl, no fancy equipment required.  Just rinse and drain twice a day, and keep out of direct sunlight. 

Alternately:  Get a nifty jar like the one in the pictures, it has a perforated lid and a kick stand that makes it easy to drain.
Or:  Use a mason jar, a piece of cheese cloth, and a rubber band.
What matters is that you keep them moist and well rinsed and aired.  If they stay too wet they could mould or spoil.

3.  Watch them grow!  Some will start to grow in a few hours, some will take a day or so.  I eat them at any stage once they've started to grow, but some say they're ready when the sprout is longer than the bean.

These can be eaten raw in breakfast cereals, on salads, in wraps, on sandwiches...
They can be steamed, or tossed into soups.
Err on the side of light cooking as you want to keep them alive.

Experiment and have fun!  I'd love to hear about your results.

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