Sunday, July 04, 2010

Some runner beans and a fine dose of phytohaemagglutinin - a warning!

I tend to eat healthily at home, cooking a good meal every night and including a lot of fresh vegetables and plenty of wholefoods.

I recently got to know the people who work in the greengrocers around the corner from my flat which turns out to be a family business, selling vegetables from their own garden. I've been buying my food from there for a while but after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma recently I wanted to know more, and so spent an enjoyable evening finding out about where all the produce came from, about the seasonality, and the disbelief of most locals that you can't get potatoes in the summer and the fact that perhaps it's better to have a few bugs in your lettuce than a layer of pesticides - this was a surprise given that Galicia is a province whose people are historically tied closely to the land. It turns out that I was the first person who had ever asked about where anything comes from in their store - a rather depressing state of affairs.

So, I left with a great big bag of locally grown produce to create dinner with and set about making a lush salad with a sesame and honey dressing (the honey also being produced locally).

I knew that eating raw kidney beans was bad for you, but having no kidney beans I thought nothing of the runner beans, that had come directly from the garden to the shop that morning. So I chopped up the bright, crunchy beans and threw them in the salad for a bit of texture and the flavours that you only get from produce this fresh.

A Chinese friend was passing by and on seeing the preparation warned me that eating raw beans was bad for you - I took it as a bit of Chinese folk-lore, having eaten plenty of raw legumes before and dismissed the warning.

Well, lesson now learned - after turning distinctly pale, shaky and nauseous for the last two days and having a few other symptoms, which I shan't go into here, non-stop yesterday, A) I shan't be making this mistake again and B) I wanted to post a little warning to everyone else!

The omnivore's dilemma is ever present, and the dangers and pleasures marking the fine line which is dictated by science, culture and folk-lore make for exciting possibilities - in all directions! Be warned!


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