Food and Culture: Nutrient-Rich Black Beans

Food and Culture: Nutrient-Rich Black Beans

By Tim Hazell


Cultural universals may represent any fundamental characteristic shared by diverse groups, with minor variations from one society to another, such as modes of behavior. Universals include gender roles, religious rituals, the gift of language, or our innate need for music and art, fulfillment, love, and companionship. Their existence may date from the Upper Paleolithic, as much as 50,000 years ago, along with the emergence of behavioral modernity.


Ancient Epicureans recommended pleasure in moderation as the ultimate state of well-being. Overindulgence and suffering were intrinsically linked. Attainment of deep satisfaction involved self-control with pleasures of the mind taking precedence over mere physical gratification. When it came to the palate, choosing the right person to eat with was of greater importance than the menu, as illustrated by this quote from Epicurus:


 “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the existence of a lion or wolf.”


Connection and inclusion are a fundamental human need. Isolation in modern societies has become a leading contributor to depression. Combining our need for social interaction with the chance to share a simple meal together creates an equilibrium of psychological and physical well-being.


Food anthropology is the analysis of food in culture. While food’s primary purpose might appear to be nutrition, it also has an intellectual dimension. The choices we make about culinary ingredients, preparation, and presentation are influenced as much by status, religion, economic and environmental factors as they are by flavor and nutritional value. 


Cooking is chemistry, experimentation, personal growth, and a global journey! Food science offers us many opportunities to explore the ways in which we go about our daily lives.


Black beans are incredibly healthy, providing multiple vital nutrients with minimal fat and sugar. Their antioxidants, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates make them nutritionally powerful. A diet rich in beans can reduce your risk of serious medical conditions while helping your body process calories more effectively.


Recipes come in many forms, but defining elements have universal implications when they resonate deeply enough. These excellent vegetarian burgers are loaded with black bean nutrients and intense flavor!


Best Black Bean Burgers



1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp. ketchup or mayonnaise

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 cup breadcrumbs or Panko

2 large eggs

Optional: ground cumin, paprika, chili powder to taste, chopped fresh herbs 



In a food processor, pulse black beans, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and/or mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and optional ingredients to your taste. Mixture should still have texture. Transfer to a large bowl. Add breadcrumbs and eggs. Mix well. Form into patties of desired thickness, about 1/2 cup each. Heat olive oil in a skillet until hot. Add patties, browning 5 minutes on each side until firm. Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.