Dark Red Cowpeas Beans

Cowpeas provide a rich source of proteins and calories, as well as minerals and vitamins. A cowpea seed can consist of 25% protein and is low in anti-nutritional factors. This diet complements the mainly cereal diet in countries that grow cowpeas as a major food crop.

Cowpeas are popular in the Southern US, Africa, and Asia. They originated in Africa, and tolerate heat, drought and humidity much better than common beans do. They are great picked young for use as green snap beans, and stir-fried or boiled. They also make a great cover crop, sown in spring or summer and tilled into the soil when flowers begin to appear. Plant seeds about an inch deep after frosts have ceased and soil is warm. Most types “run,” meaning they grow long vines, and so 3-5 feet should be allowed between rows.

Nelson Mandela famously described cowpeas in his book Long Walk to Freedom. For this reason they have gained cultural significance in Africa and remain staple to millions there. It may not be easy to find African red cowpeas, but black-eyed peas are a closely related variety and could easily be substituted. It makes a great one-dish meal on a cold or rainy day.

They can be served over rice as in the southern tradition of ‘peas and rice’. But with a bit more broth they make a great soup too.

Cultivation

Cowpeas are grown mostly for their edible beans, although the leaves, green peas and green pea pods can also be consumed, meaning the cowpea can be used as a food source before the dried peas are harvested. Cowpeas thrive in poor dry conditions, growing well in soils up to 85% sand. This makes them a particularly important crop in arid, semi-desert regions where not many other crops will grow. As well as an important source of food for humans in poor arid regions the crop can also be used as feed for livestock. This predominately occurs in India, where the stock is fed cowpea as forage or fodder. The nitrogen fixing ability means that as well as functioning as a sole-crop, the cowpea can be effectively intercropped with sorghum, millet, maize, cassava or cotton

Nutrition and health

Cowpeas provide a rich source of proteins and calories, as well as minerals and vitamins. A cowpea seed can consist of 25% protein and is low in anti-nutritional factors. This diet complements the mainly cereal diet in countries that grow cowpeas as a major food crop.

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