It Does Amount to a Hill of Beans

I never knew I cared about dry beans until it became possible that I would have to live without them for a year. Dry beans (and their cooked cousin, canned beans) are a cheap, ubiquitous staple. If you’ve got any.


When I started the 250-Mile Diet, I only had about a cup of black beans and a cup of white navy beans in the pantry. A fellow CSA member said “No worries, you can get them at the Grand Army Plaza farmers market in early fall.” So I forgot about beans for a while.

Then early fall came and went and no local dry beans were to be found. I searched online. I asked around at the farmers markets. I asked my CSA farmer. I started stockpiling shellbeans, cooking some of them fresh but letting others dry in their pods to be shelled later as dry beans. By the end of the season I had maybe a pint of locally grown dry beans, with the next potential harvest not until late-August.

In December I went to the one day only Wintermarket. It was snowing hard and the vendors and farmers, bless them, were standing outside under the awning of the former Fulton Fish Market. And there on one of the tables were white beans and pinto beans and black beans. Yay! I bought some of each and got the name of the grower, Cayuga Pure Organics. I emailed them that night thinking my bean woes were past.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with Shamus at Cayuga Pure Organics ever since trying to figure out the most cost effective way to get me some locally grown beans. They are a wonderful company, very supportive of my local eating commitment, and eager to find places to sell their beans in New York City. But it’s tough because beans are ubiquitous and cheap and heavy (think shipping cost) and nobody really thinks about them until, well, until they do.

These are delicious beans, by the way, with a shorter cooking time than those dusty bags of Goya pebbles on your supermarket shelf. In case you didn’t know (I kind of did, but hadn’t really thought about it), the older dry beans are the longer they will take to cook, even after an overnight soak. After soaking my first batch of local black beans overnight I had to run to work and didn’t get around to checking on them until the following evening. They had sprouted. We’re talking fresh, people!

three bean salad locavore style

Today I made a three bean salad using two kinds of Cayuga’s beans, a jar of my dilly green beans, and some of my home-canned corn relish, plus homegrown dried chile pepper for kick. Delicious!

P.S.-If you live in New York City and would like to go in on some locally grown Cayuga beans with me, we could split the shipping cost and save a bit. Let me know.


Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

5 responses to “It Does Amount to a Hill of Beans”

  1. acmeplant says:

    Count me in! I’d be happy to share those shipping costs. Seriously, I have about a cup of Jacob’s Cattle beans left so I’m ready for more!

  2. Trace says:

    I looked and looked and looked for 100 mile dry beans, and all I could come up with was black eyed peas. Good enough for one season, but I want kidney beans and black beans and soup beans next season…

  3. ledameredith says:

    I understand your frustration! My newly found bean farmer is 170 miles from New York City, so that might not help your 100 Mile search. Where did you find the black eyed peas?

  4. rosasharne says:

    Cayuga’s website mentions that their beans can be purchased at Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg. I’ll check it out and get back to you.

  5. saragardens says:

    Leda, there’s a new food coop/buying club forming in Bed Stuy (Kalabash – info at and one being talking about in my neighborhood (Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill). That could be some buying power boost. I’ll keep you posted on the FGCH one – Kalabash has just found space in a community center and is pretty new.

    p.s. I thought “wolf months” meant the wolf knew our pantry was empty, and was coming for us 😉

    p.p.s Thinking of putting a cold frame for greens out front (my only winter sun) – if it works out, you can come forage here (but don’t tell a soul).

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