Moscow, ID (PRWEB) February 07, 2014
The Agricultural Act of 2014, recently passed by Congress and signed today by President Obama in Lansing, Michigan, includes two new initiatives that will provide funding to explore and research the nutritional benefits of pulse crops in American diets, while also establishing criteria to place pulse crops on the lunch trays of American school children.
“Pulse” crops, including dry peas, lentils, chickpeas and dry beans are gluten-free crops that have been around since biblical times, says Kim Murray, a Montana pulse grower, and the Chairman of the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. “But in this day and age we need scientific research and human studies to quantify just how healthy these crops promise to be.”
The Pulse Crop Health Initiative (PHI) will provide $125 million over 5 years to conduct research into the health and nutritional benefits of pulse crops, while the school Pulse Crop Products Program will allocate $10 million dollars over 5 years to the USDA to purchase pulse crops, and establish a delivery chain to introduce dry peas, lentils, chickpeas and dry beans into school food programs.
The initiatives were first introduced to Congress by the American Pulse Association (APA), an organization formed jointly by the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and the US Dry Bean Council, established to increase pulse crop research and consumption in the United States.
“The PHI was designed to accomplish three goals,” says Tim McGreevy, CEO of the American Pulse Association. “The first goal is to address obesity and chronic disease in America, and through research on pulse crops we hope to offer solutions to address those major health issues.”
The second goal is to address global hunger and functionality. “One-third of the world starves today,” states Greg Johnson, Chairman of the American Pulse Association, and a pulse crop exporter based in North Dakota. “So we need to increase our production of pulses, manage these crops better and get them into the mouths of people that need it as their source of protein and energy.”
“We know that pulses are some of the highest sources of dietary fiber, vegetable protein, and potassium that you can have in your diet,” states Dr. Janice Rueda, APA Director of Health and Nutrition. “The problem is we haven’t invested in the research to increase productivity and ensure food security around the world. The PHI addresses this oversight in funding.”
The third goal of the Pulse Health Initiative is to increase the sustainability of agricultural production. “As we increase production,” says Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Bean Shippers Association and an APA board member, “we’re going to need to grow crops that are low cost, sustainable, demand less water, and actually put nutrients back into the soil.” Byrum adds, “Pulses are truly the only crop that can achieve this level of sustainability.”
The primary goal of the Pulse Crop Products Program is to introduce pulse foods into the diets of our school children to help battle chronic health issues, like obesity and type-2 diabetes present in today’s population of American youth.
“The USDA determined that dietary fiber and potassium are some of the most needed nutrients missing from school meals,” McGreevy states. “Pulse crops are a super food that promise a low cost, high concentration source of fiber, protein, folate, potassium and iron.”