Institute for the Protection of Natural Health Legumes and bacteria, a symbiosis that works!

Dear friend, dear friend,

Whenever Homo sapiens invented agriculture, he adopted legumes, those plants from the Fabaceae family.[1]

And at the time, the human groups of hunter-gatherers who settled down did not have the Internet to communicate with each other!

In China, soy was chosen. In India, the chickpea. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, peas, lentils and beans. In America, beans and peanuts. In Africa, different varieties of cowpea.[1]

Legumes provide many services to humans, animals and plants…

Even today, pulses are grown on many surfaces around the globe. In all, 78 million hectares are dedicated to them for a production of nearly 70 million tons of seeds per year.[1]

Other legumes are used for pasture such as alfalfa or clover or sainfoin and help improve the soil.[1]

These plants are known as green manures.[2]

And the Romans, the Incas and the Chinese already used them for this reason.

But we now know that this virtue is due to the fact that these plants bring nitrogen to the earth.[3]

Legumes are nitrogen fixers in the soil

How does this nitrogen come?

Marc-André Selosse, professor at the National Museum of Natural History, tells it in detail in his fascinating book Never Alone published by Actes Sud. [1]

He explains that at the end of the 19th century, German agronomists grew peas on soil that was low in nitrogen, sterilized or not.

They realized that the pea grew much faster in the non-sterile soil than in the sterile soil.

And this non-sterile soil contained much more nitrogen… Where did it come from? Bacteria !

They are hidden in nodules with which legumes are endowed.

The nodules are like threads associated with the roots.

But bacteria do not work alone.[1]

They are fed by the nodules which give them carbonaceous substrates, in particular sugars.

This feeding deforms them and makes them able to fetch nitrogen.

The bacteria that do this work are called the rhizobium.

It is a symbiosis between plant cells and bacteria that fixes the nitrogen present in the air.

This is a characteristic ability of legumes.[1]

There is cooperation in the air (and underground)!

Added to this association between nodules that provide material from photosynthesis to bacteria is that of mycorrhizal fungi.

These provide the plant with the water and minerals it needs.

This operation is not without difficulty for the plant. It represents a high cost in carbonaceous materials resulting from photosynthesis.

As a result, the plant is full of nitrogen but lacks carbon. She is therefore delighted to have at her side another plant that does not fix nitrogen but provides carbon.

And the non-carbon-fixing plant will be delighted to benefit from the nitrogen provided by the legume.[1,3]

And here is another cooperation!

This is how ecosystems work: by multiplying the links and cooperation between their members.

Bacteria, fungi, animals and plants work together and this allows the ecosystem to be sustainable.

What matters is the balance between the different populations of protagonists.

The farmer has every interest in taking advantage of ecosystem services without trying to upset it completely.

How should you prepare legumes?

Now that you know all the services rendered by these exceptional plants that are legumes, I am sure that you will not put them in the same way on your plate.

However, before cooking them, it is a good idea to soak your broad beans, beans, lentils or chickpeas.[4]

You can let them soak overnight or, failing that, for a few hours.

This neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors present in legumes that prevent the proper absorption of nutrients.[4,5]

The vitamin and mineral content should also be increased.[4]

In addition, this soaking allows a “pre-digestion” of foods which will make them more pleasant to your intestine.[6,7]

Some cooks even recommend adding salt to the soaking water to further tenderize your legumes.[7] Enjoy your lunch !

Naturally yours,

Augustine of Livois

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