The Many Benefits of Hummus
Once only found in Middle Eastern restaurants or ethnic food stores, hummus has become a surging business for food companies here in the U.S. and abroad. The chickpea (garbanzo) bean spread is no longer a secret and limited only to those who were fortunate enough to have a Lebanese restaurant in the neighborhood. Hummus has now gone corporate, with brands such as Tribe and Sabra (a Strauss Group and PepsiCo partnership) enjoying popularity and impressive sales: $325 million at last count in 2010.
But the growing affinity for hummus is more than just another food trend. As global production of hummus increases and with it, the cultivation of chickpeas, this simple spread could benefit people, and the planet, in various ways. Think about better managed farms with higher yields and resilient soil, another tool in the kit to fight global hunger, a key to better nutrition and a food that can fight obesity are among the reasons why hummus can help with the transformation of both people's diets and global agriculture.
It is hard to walk out of a Whole Foods and spend less than 20 bucks. But at a time when fast food companies are still relentlessly trying to convince us that a dollar menu or combo meal is a great deal for lunch, you can walk into a Whole Foods or other supermarket, grab an eight ounce tub of hummus and have a meal for $2 to $3. Before you even add the bread or vegetables to go with that dip, those eight ounces already offer the base for a nutrient- and caloric-rich meal. With a serving (two tablespoons) offering anywhere from 60 to 80 calories, that small tub has close to 500 calories. Then add protein, folate, B-vitamins and iron—not to mention that hummus is relatively low in fat, save for the oil.
Walk into a Costco, and you will see the Sabra brand taking up valuable shelf space. Quite often it is one of the food products the warehouse retailer offers at its demo tables. Listen to the pitches: You do not hear workers talk about how hummus is ground up chickpeas or garbanzos—that would ruin the sales pitch. Folks who are at first dubious of what looks like a tub of tile grout, are willing to try the concoction when they hear they are about to sample a "dip." So say good-bye to the onion and spinach dips of yesterday. Compared to the processed foods available in cardboard coffins within supermarkets' frozen food aisles, hummus is a healthful option.
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Hummus image via Shutterstock.