Considered one of the most traditional dishes of Brazilian cuisine and consequent, a cultural component, beans deserve focus and attention from researchers and scholars from the most diverse scientific areas.
From an anthropological point of view, beans can raise numerous studies and interpretations about their symbolic, cultural and historical dimensions. It is not by simple reference that the anthropologist Roberto Da Matta emphasizes that beans and rice are a synthesis of the Brazilian style of eating.
A gastronomic study, in turn, recognizes in the legume its excellent protein source, its many contents and vitamins, minerals and phenolics that even give it antioxidant properties and help to reduce the incidence of diseases.
A more economic bias points to its economic and social importance, mainly due to the large contingent of labor employed during the cycle of culture and also to its demand and accessibility to a large part of the population, especially by the economically less favored classes.
In this sense, recent studies reveal that Brazil is the world’s largest producer of beans with currently more than 3.4 million tons, in a harvested area of just over 4.1 million hectares (AGRIANUAL, 2008). This data is important for the agricultural sector not only because of its expression, but, above all, when taking into account the fact that the largest percentage of production is in family farming.
Produced and consumed from the north to the south of Brazil, despite the latest estimates pointing to a tendency for a reduction in the planted area due to issues related, mainly, to low prices, beans continue to be a central product in discussions on food sovereignty and security; for this reason, government programs and policies, such as Zero Hunger and especially Mais Alimentos and the Food Acquisition Program (PAA), can be motivators for the expansion of the main technical indices of culture and even encourage the increase and interest in its production.
Finally, considered in the most diverse aspects, the bean raises, drives and almost refers to the interdisciplinary study, to the critical and systematic look of research and rural extension, to the study of the daily details of the farmers who deal with the production of such valuable food.
AGRIANUAL, 2008. Anuário da Agricultura Brasileira. FNP, São Paulo, pp. 378–386