BeanCon 2023 - US Dry Bean Council - Beans Colombia

Celebrating Beans at BeanCon in Colombia

BeanCon is a global bean event where people (aka bean enthusiasts) from around the globe gather to discuss the best topic ever – BEANS! BeanCon23 was held in the beautiful city of MedellΓ­n, Colombia and was a huge success, not to mention an absolute blast.

Naturally, I wanted to share some of what we learned about beans because beans are too cool to not share. πŸ™‚ So, here we go!

BeanCon stage - 1

What Did We Learn at BeanCon?

We covered so many great topics, it’s hard to summarize them briefly. Here is an overview of the event.

BeanCon – Day 1

Rebecca Bratter, the Executive Director of the US Dry Bean Council, kicked off the event. She is an excellent bean advocate!

Rebecca Bratter - BeanCon Medellin Colombia

Casey Bean, an Agricultural Counselor, also provided welcoming remarks. Am I serious that his last name is Bean? YES. Am I (more than just a little) jealous that he has the coolest last name ever? You better believe it.

Casey Bean - BeanCon

Then, Nick Buettner with Blue Zones delivered the welcome keynote, and he provided food for thought about the importance of healthy diets and lifestyles in enjoying long healthspans (healthspan meaning the length of the lifespan for which we are healthy). Wondering what one of the primary cornerstones of diets in regions and populations around the world with the greatest percentage of centenarians and very low rates of chronic disease is? Spoiler alert: BEANS. Around a cup a day (and honestly, based on the research coming out, I would argue even more than that to help optimize health).

During networking breaks, we got to visit with exhibitors. CIAT (the International Center for Tropical Agriculture) had a booth and shared about their work on beans.

CIAT - BeanCon Colombia

Next was a great panel outlining production, supply, and demand. It’s fascinating to watch the global dynamics!

BeanCon - production panel

Chef Brad Barnes facilitated an informative panel with panelists from the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Kids Collaborative, the military, and Bold Bean Co. My only complaint about this panel was that I didn’t get to try any Bold Beans! I’ve been following their company and work for a while and really want to – I guess I’ll have to make the trip to the UK sooner rather than later to enjoy a jar. πŸ™‚

Next up was a panel that addressed sustainability, facilitated by Root the Future. We heard from experts such as a dry bean specialist, the Director of External Affairs and Sustainability of Bush Beans, and the president of the Global Pulse Confederation and co-owner of Chippewa Valley Bean (if you haven’t tried their fudgy kidney bean brownie recipe, I very highly recommend it!).

BeanCon - Sustainability

The last panel of the day we discussed more about how beans are trending and play such a critical role in cuisines that are both delicious and sustainable.

Beans in delicious and sustainable cuisines

It was a packed and wonderful first day at BeanCon23!

BeanCon – Day 2

The first panel of the day was on mythbusting. There are so many myths out there about beans, it’s crazy (and upsetting)!! During this panel, we went through some of the main myths one-by-one and addressed them with science. I was honored to be a part of this panel along with Alyson Greenhalgh-Ball, Dr. Michael Greger, and our awesome facilitator, Jessica Hegarty.

BeanCon Mythbusting Panel - presenting
BeanCon Mythbusting panel

A fascinating panel on bean flours followed us, and we learned lots about the functionality of bean flours, potential challenges, and exciting opportunities.

BeanCon - Bean flours panel

Before the closing speech, we heard from several entrepreneurs, including the founders of BeanVIVO, PNuff Crunch, and Boon Food Concepts. It makes me so happy to see how people are using beans in tasty, accessible, and innovative ways!

BeanCon - Beans Is How - Paul Newnham

Paul Newnham was the BeanCon closing keynote speaker, and he nailed it! He summarized the event perfectly, shared about the wonderful new(-ish) campaign Beans Is How, and motivated us to all eat more beans and spread the word!

What Does the Bean Scene Look Like in MedellΓ­n?

I’m not pretending to know everything about beans in MedellΓ­n, by any means. However, I wanted to share what I saw with you all to hopefully peak your interest and also encourage you to share back what you have seen or know about beans in Colombia!

Bean Dishes We Enjoyed at BeanCon

The night before BeanCon began, there was a press event at the rooftop bar of El Cielo, a beautiful boutique hotel.

Press event - BeanCon - Medellin Colombia

Not to make you too jealous or anything, but not only were there delightful bean snacks, there was a PINTO BEAN COCKTAIL. Now, I have tried beans in a looooot of different ways, trust me. But, this was new for me! And it was absolutely delicious!

Bean snacks at press event for BeanCon - 1
Bean snacks at press event for BeanCon - 2
Pinto bean cocktail - BeanCon

At BeanCon, one of my favorite dishes was this killer bean soup. It looked and tasted to me like it had cargamanto beans, which are very popular in Colombia.

Bean soup at BeanCon

Other Bean Dishes

This was a short trip to Colombia to participate in BeanCon, so I sadly did not have the chance to eat my way around the city as much as I would have liked. That being said, I of course made sure to have beans for every meal. Here are some of the bean dishes I got to savor. Plus, I guess it just means I’ll have to go back to try more beans!

Bean soup for dinner in Medellin Colombia
An absolutely delicious bean soup

The photo below shows the closest I got to the traditional Colombian dish of bandeja paisa. The arepas had a delicious smokey/grilled flavor, and the beans and rice part was exactly how I liked it – less rice, more beans. πŸ™‚ I thought the texture of these beans was amazing – super creamy with thin skins, a good size that made for a satisfying bite of bean, and great flavor.

Beans and rice for breakfast at El Cielo in Medellin Colombia

Okay, so this next one cannot technically be classified as a “culinary delight,” but it was still pretty good! I needed something to eat during BeanCon rehearsal day so went to the restaurant at the hotel and asked for a side of beans to go. They looked at me strangely and clarified that was all I wanted, which of course it was because I am literally powered by beans. And ta-da! The benefit of always looking for beans on the menu, or asking for them – whether they are actually written on the menu or not!

To go beans in Colombia

Beans at Plaza Minorista in MedellΓ­n, Colombia

Plaza Minorista - Medellin Colombia

I hate to break it to you, but if you Googled “Plaza Minorista Medellin Colombia” and somehow landed on this blog, I only have eyes for one thing: beans. So, consider yourself fully warned that you may want to look elsewhere. If you’re here for the beans though, then read (or look) on! This part is essentially just an excuse to share photos of lovely beans and a bustling, vibrant market full of delicious produce and other goods.

Inside Plaza Minorista Medellin Colombia

Can you spot the beans in the next two photos below?

Plaza Minorista Market in Medellin - 2
Plaza Minorista Market in Medellin - 5
Fresh cargamanto beans in Medellin Colombia

Look at all these beautiful beans!

Dry beans at Plaza Minorista in Medellin Colombia

Now let’s zoom in on some of those beans…

Shown below are cargamanto rojo beans – beautiful and delicious! These were one of my personal favorites.

Cargamanto rojo beans in Colombia

Next up is bola roja beans, which one vendor also called radical beans. They look like little red gems!

Radical or bola roja beans in Colombia
Cranberry beans in Colombia market

Bean in Grocery Stores in MedellΓ­n, Colombia

What about beans in grocery stores? Here are some of my bean and bean product finds in the stores I had a chance to visit.

Beans products in a grocery store in Medellin Colombia

So, which of these did I actually try? Well, I stashed up on beans for the trip home, and I ate all of the products shown in the photo below. After all, sampling (read: devouring) bean and other pulse products counts as research, right??

Bean based products in Colombia

I love roasted chickpeas so of course enjoyed those. I also really liked the rice crackers that had garbanzos mixed in – what a great idea! I thought the garbanzo and quinoa snack mix was also an intriguing concept. I wish we had more of these products in the United States!

I want to pause on the next photo because technically I didn’t find this one in the grocery store. I met someone at BeanCon who wanted to show me that beans are also sold like this, so she literally had them delivered to my hotel room that night! A shout-out to Lili with Comiagro. Thank you. πŸ™‚

Frijol verde - Colombia

Yes, you can get the pods with the beans inside, before they have completely dried down (frijol verde en vaina)! I sat there in my hotel room happily opening them to reveal these truly gorgeous beans.

Fresh cargamanto rojo beans

I Hope to See You at the Next BeanCon!

I would love to see you at BeanCon! If you haven’t partied with bean people yet, then trust me – you haven’t partied. πŸ˜‰ Thank you to the US Dry Bean Council for hosting this incredible event and inviting me to be a panelist to help bust myths about beans!

BeanCon stage - 2

Looking for more info and photos from bean travels? Check out this post about beans in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous Bean Lover

    Hi Chelsea,

    Just discovered your page, and I am THRILLED to learn about so many different ways to incorporate BEANS into my meals. I am so happy to have found like-minded individuals passionate about beans like myself. Have you tried pinto bean coffee? Also love vanilla black bean tea. It’s one of my favourites. #beanie4lyfe

    Best,

    A Fellow Bean Fanatic

  2. Hi Chelsea,

    Am grateful that I found your page. I was searching on the web to know more detailed information about bean consumption in the Central America. Specifically I want conference and exhibitions on beans. Through reading your posts I found out there was Beancon2023. Unfortunately I missed it😞. I hope you will inform me some bean events.
    I enjoyed reading your posts.

    Regards

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