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Stories from the valley

South America to Sutter County

Contributed by Jim Morris

It has so much going for it, yet the humble dry bean is often not given its due. Packed with protein, energy, fiber and antioxidants, beans are fantastic nutrition for those willing to invest a little time in the kitchen.

Beans HOME

Dry beans are the hallmark crop for Chris Capaul in the Sacramento Valley community of Meridian.  He has a lot to live up to – his grandfather started the farm in 1915, and didn’t waste much time before beans became their staple crop. A horse-drawn harvester on the property offers one glimpse at their history. So does his father’s first car, a 1915 Model T Touring, which Chris labored for 13 years to restore.

Beans 1

If you love refried beans then you must try his Peruano Beans.  Originating from Peru, these beans are lighter in color than Pinto Beans (a preference of the Mexican consumer).

Beans 2

They also have a terrific creamy flavor. Prepare them with a little olive oil and seasonings then add a little shredded cheese for a fantastic treat. These tasty beans don’t need lard to excel.

He also grows Baby Lima Beans, which are largely exported to Japan. These beans are ground into a paste, then seasoned and used for Mochi, a rice flour pastry. Baby Limas are a big crop in our valley, as evidenced at Colusa Produce – which processes millions of pounds of dry beans. Many steps are taken to ensure premium quality demanded by the Japanese consumer. In visiting with Jim Wallace who keeps everything running, I was impressed by all of the steps it takes to maintain a consistently high quality product for consumers at home and abroad.

Beans 3

If you’re a novice to dry beans, here are a few suggestions:

  • The California Dry Bean Advisory Board has history, bean varieties, the nutrition breakdown and lots of recipes.
  • Make preparation simple and eliminate the potential for missteps by using the EZ Bean Cooker.
  • Make sure you buy your beans fresh. It makes a huge difference! Chris sells his direct. You can reach him at or (530) 632-7761. Yes, he even sells on Craigslist!