Halesworth - Films/Festivals

Science Cafe – Celebrating Pulses (March 2016)

Delicious food was prepared by Imogen Tempest using Josaih Meldums Hodmedods ingredients (which can be found in Focus Organic shop in Halesworth), including Chocolate cake made with Fava beans.

Mike Ambrose
Manages the John Innes Centre, (Norwich), Germplasm Resource Unit (= seedbank),  where, for 39 years, he has worked with peas. The purpose of the Germ Plasm Resources is to build up a collection, (conserve, maintain) as well as provision of verified, well characterised germplasm resources (information/seed) essential in underpinning the UK and international bioscience community and related industries.

How many seeds can a person take outside the EU into the EU? None of us guessed 5 packets.

The pea collection is the most active with 3,500 varieties, most originating from the fertile crescent, HIndu Kush, Ethiopia, Yemen etc, and Includes pre-domesticated varieties. John Innes Centre – adopted 130 year old study of peas. Pioneered from Mandel has his peas.

Dr Claire Domoney
Head of Department, Metabolic Biology (JIC), specialising in understanding genes and processes involved in determining seed quality traits in Pisum sativum L. (pea).

There are 3 reasons pulses and in particular peas good for us

  1. Economic

For food markets, visual traits can have a large economic impact in terms of return to the growers.

Human and animal. The UK market small on both counts and has not caught on as Canada has to embrace new markets eg India shortage.

  1. Environment

Fixes nitrogen. Provides an important and valuable break crop in rotations.

A much more healthy form of protein and starch. Can replace imported soya and wheat as animal food source.

  1. Health

A more healthy diet to counter obesity and diabetes. Resistance starch in pulses, digested more slowly, no rush of sugar.

Traits of importance to industry include overall composition, where sugar, starch and protein are of primary importance.

Research into inhibitors – which inhibit take up of starch

Visual trait – retention of green colour important

Josiah Meldrum Co- founder of Hodmedods
Born out of Transition Norwich, who wanted to find nitrogen fixing vegetable with good protein source.  Why is the FAVA and PEA exported and not eaten here?  Trail community groups – we are one.  Post cards flooding back with feedback. Fantastic store of winter protein. A staple 400 years ago. Why not now? Like China, stigmatised as poor persons food. Fava beans have a higher status.

Pulse snacks – easier and better for us than peanuts. Shiraz peas

Not without problems – they require a long growing season – so the East Anglian fields of clay not so accessible in the autumn when ready for harvesting.

Fava – some evidence it has elements like Il Dopa for Parkinson disease.

Questions and Answers

How long can you keep them?

2 years (Josiah), a farmer 8-10 years in controlled dry cool conditions. Or 25 years in controlled lab conditions.

Pea flour

extremely useful alternative to wheat. Better nutritional values.

Pea Sick Fields – FARMER could only grow peas 1 in 7 years, to prevent Pea Sick Fields which can take 30 years to recover. Why?

Yes Peas


An organisation of farmers who grow peas – recepies, facts, books, newsletters etc.

Difference between Fresh Peas and Dry Peas

Fresh are sugar pops, low in protein, but ok in vitamins

The dry mature seed, as between 25-40% protein. Good vitamins

Pound for Pound- animal to pulse

Yes, well known but contentious comparison of resources for protein. But also water usage is important – meat production uses 18 times more protein than pulses. And the Pea uses 5 times less than soya

Feed comparison rations x tones of feed for x tones of protein.

Poultry are the most efficient with a 3-1 ratio.

Beef and sheep are roughly 10 to 1. However sheep effectively convert grass on land which is inaccessible and x to a human being. And then there’s the feedling stock.

For further information, Claire recommends we read Zero Carbon Britain, publication 2013 from CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology)


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