Mar 16, 2016 • By

The pulse of the food world

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently announced that 2016 would be the International Year of Pulses. Perfect timing, in hindsight, for the Research Chefs Association to put pulses center stage at this year’s 2016 North Central Regional RCA event last month.

But you might be asking … What’s a pulse?

“Pulses are the dry edible seeds from potted plants that are part of the legume family,” explained guest speaker Julianne Curan from Pulse Canada, at the event February 24 at Surly Brewing in Minneapolis. “They include beans, peas and chickpeas.”

Pulses have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries, but it wasn’t until more recently that some of the health and environmental benefits were discovered.

“Beans are packed with protein, fiber, iron and zinc,” said Lisa Garretson, a food scientist at General Mills. “Some beans even contain twice as much protein as fellow superfood, quinoa. 

They’re also extremely water and energy efficient to produce.”

Beans require a small fraction of the amount of water that would be necessary to produce the same amount of beef pork or poultry, making them appealing to environmentalists and food scientists alike.


General Mills’ Charlie Lucas and Colby Darling, RCA North Central Regional Co-Chairs, helped organize the pulses event.

Participants had the chance to enjoy some “pulse-ified” fare by Surly’s own Jorge Guzman, executive chef and recent winner of the 2016 Cochan competition. The menu consisted of salmon with split-pea fritters, guinea hen cassoulet with cannelini beans and a curry roasted squash with chickpeas. The event drew more than one hundred participants, who had the opportunity to network with fellow food enthusiasts, listen to speakers and indulge in some local brew.

“It took months of planning,” said Erica Darling, RCA lead event developer. “But it was so great to see everything come together.”

The RCA is a professional organization comprised of a diverse community of chefs, food scientists and other food industry leaders that focus on combining food science with culinary arts and its application in today’s food environment.

Or as Catherine Proper, RCA national president explained, “a group of people with a dynamic passion for everything food.”

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