I may have gained a little insight into the dried bean market, or lack thereof. After shelling all my dried beans I put them in a bowl where I assumed they would just hang out and be dried beans; forever. Not the case. I went to pull some kidney beans out of the bowl to make chili (trying to figure out something to do with the tomatoes that are starting to aggregate at an alarming pace) and there was an odor problem. Which is to say, the bean bowl had turned stinky. The beans had turned fuzzy. Crispy dry, they were not, apparently.
To say I was devastated may further contribute to the problem of strong language losing its impact because of a tendency these days to exaggerate for satirical or dramatic effect. Actually, I’m guilty of doing that all the time, so I am going to say it: I was devastated. There was my entire crop of beans, rotting. Now I know what those people who suffered through the Irish Potato Famine felt like. Ok, now that is going too far. All right, so I was disappointed.
I tried to separate the good beans from the bad beans, but then I realized a lot of the beans were soft and may in time become bad beans so I just scrapped them all. I dumped them on top of the plant carcasses from which they came. As I looked at an entire garden that was pretty much wasted, I tried to remind myself of the circle of life, of the principle of matter conservation, of the ability of legumes to fix nitrogen, of how this year is just supposed to be a learning experience. But really, I just wanted my bowl of shiny beans back to run my hands through. I’m thinking about dumping the bags of dried beans I have in my pantry into a bowl and doing just that to make me feel better. I think if scientists studied bean handling the same way they have fish watching, they would find similar results.
Gardening lesson learned: Tending a garden requires specialized knowledge all the way through to harvest. Or as the insidious self-help I read in my past life as a pseudo-business woman put it: "Begin with the end in mind." If only I had listened to Stephen Covey, I'd have a bowl of homegrown beans to my name. But alas, I don't. Maybe next year.
**Follow up: The chili was a great success, even with the outsourced dried beans. However, while cooking the chili, I discovered rather uncomfortably that it is not a good idea to cut up Tobasco peppers and not wash your hands afterwards. (So far my peppers have managed to survive my gardening abilities.) Twenty minutes after preparing the chili in the crock pot, I was mopping the kitchen floor and it felt like someone lit my hands on fire. I cannot account for the delayed reaction, however. It makes me wonder if the chili itself will similarly evoke a delayed painful reaction. Time will tell.
I like to throw things.