Save the world: grow beans and peas | Alys Fowler
Legumes are not only good to eat, they’re great for the planet, too
Legumes might just save the world. Stuff all this lab-grown meat and those cricket burgers: legumes are what we should be banking on. The protein-rich seeds of beans, peas and lentils are nutritious, easy to grow and leave the world in better shape, thanks to their relationship with soil bacteria.
These bacteria are known as rhizobia. They take atmospheric nitrogen, which is useless to plants, and turn it into forms the plant can use, such as ammonia. They also make the phosphate in the soil, which is essential for plant vigour, soluble, and produce hormones that help the plant develop and fine-tune its pest defences. In return, the plant houses the bacteria and ensures there is a good supply of oxygen and plenty of raw ingredients such as carbon and nutrients.