Beans for Breakfast

Written by: Paul Thompson

Primary Source:  Thornapple CSA

After racking my brain for several hours trying to think of something funny having to do with cucumber beetles, I finally gave up. Bing tells me that there are two kinds of cucumber beetle, one with stripes and one with polka dots. There is apparently nothing funny about either of them because once they have gotten established, you might as just forget about all that bok choy you were hoping to stir fry up with some tofu about this time of the year. The robot on my computer does not think that bok choy is a word, which goes to show how “smart” robots can be of a time. Bing is telling me that picking off the cucumber beetles by hand and throwing them into soapy water is an effective way to control them, but I think that this advice is pretty much in the same category as thinking that bok choy is not a word. So much for the robots this week.

Since there isn’t anything funny about cucumber beetles, let’s change the subject. Let’s ask Bing about having beans for breakfast. I should start out by saying that this query does not please Bing. Bing offers some helpful suggestions:  “Beans for chili?” “Beans for diabetics?” “Beans for protein?” Then Bing goes back to the diabetes thing again, just in case you overlooked it the first time before deciding that you are just off your rocker and trying “Bean Ford West Chester” I didn’t click on that one. Even the best crazy tangent has to stop somewhere.

However, if you persist, you will discover that “Beans for Breakfast” is, in fact, a food song by Johnny Cash. We should be setting this blog aside for the next food songs month, I suppose, but I’m too deep into it to give up now. The general thrust of it is that a no-good man who won’t listen to his wife winds up eating beans for breakfast. This suggests that beans are not an appropriate breakfast food.

Bingo, Bing! It looks like we hit a food ethics vein that we can mine for a least another couple of paragraphs!

So why, you are asking I’m sure, did you and Bing get off on this peculiarly off beat tangent this Sunday? Well I’m sure it has something to do with cucumber beetles, but more to the point it was because I had beans for breakfast this morning, along with a fried egg, toast, some broiled tomatoes & mushrooms, a sausage, some streaky bacon and a black pudding. An English breakfast, you say. Actually it was Scottish, but their other differences notwithstanding, the English, the Scotts and the Irish have some similar breakfast habits, and they all include Heinz baked beanz. You might also be eating beans for breakfast at some taqueria down in Texas, but they wouldn’t be beanz and you probably would not have any black pudding with them.

So if there’s supposed to be some wrap up here, I’ve got nothing. Maybe it was flying all night and eating breakfast in Edinburgh. But I’d prefer to blame the cucumber beetles. It just goes to show that neither Bing nor Johnny Cash are particularly global when it comes time for breakfast food.

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Paul Thompson
Paul B. Thompson holds the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He formerly held positions in philosophy at Texas A&M University and Purdue University. His research has centered on ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food, and especially concerning the guidance and development of agricultural technoscience.
Paul Thompson

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