Poverty and Pulses

Things are getting tight what with the pandemic and all.  We need to channel our former student selves and remember how we coped without five fresh fruits and/or veggies every day.  

In the sixties, it was cool to be poor. Not boho chic but flat out cool.  Arlo Guthrie cool.  Student housing wasn’t Mom and Dad paying for an apartment and you complained about having to have a roommate. It was everyone chipping in to the sweet guy that could afford an apartment because everyone who rolled out a sleeping bag there chipped in for rent. 

It was cool to be brilliant and everyone tried to be that person with varying degrees of success. Everyone played an instrument and sang songs of woe while some nice girl collected everyone’s laundry and ran it through at the laundromat across the street in the middle of the night. Poetry was a thing, and song writing. The economics and political science majors held epic debates in the kitchen hoping to capture the attention of the girls who parted their long, blonde, ironed hair in the middle and squinted because they hoped to capture the attention of the singers of the songs of woe without admitting  to myopia. 

If anyone had money, they would never have admitted it. Sprouting young men grew their hair long and prayed that their beards wouldn’t be sad and patchy because it was important to publicly proclaim that they were too poor for a shave and a haircut while peering into the mirror hoping that James Taylor would miraculously peer back. 

Yes, it was cool to be poor.  To live on KD at ten cents a box with or without the “gourmet” addition of a hot dog. My particular claim to glory was that my father had worked for DelMonte so I was a bit of an expert on which “dents” were safe and which were dubious out of the pile pitched out back of grocery stores. 

And yet, in spite of all this ostentatious poverty, we also possessed the arrogance of youth.  Youth is strong. Youth is invincible. Youth is lightning in a bottle. We may not have had anything else, but we had that and all the promise it contained. We had the world by the tail and we were going to give it a shake!

It was all nonsense, of course. But we didn’t know that then.  

Fast forward fifty years or so and all that’s left is ashes. But it may now be time to sift through those ashes and see if there’s anything to be gleaned. 

Well, perhaps we still have remnants of that pride in our ability to survive on a dollar a day. As we see prices rising as our ability to pay falls, we hanker back to those days when we were young and strong and discovered dried beans and interesting grains. In the meantime, we have been told that we will surely perish without five fresh fruits and vegetables a day shipped post haste in plastic clamshells from Peru, and a lolloping great slab of meat at the center of things. But those of us who survived the sixties can light a candle and lead the way. Let’s think about pulses. 

“Winter Power Bowl + Vegan Green Goddess Dressing (pulses.org)



1 cup lentils, black, cooked

1 cup millet, cooked; or any other grain

2 cups squash, butternut, cubed

coconut oil

salt, pink and sea

pepper, black; freshly ground

1 bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed, and thinly sliced

olive oil

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 small radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup almonds, sliced, toasted

pickled onions, for topping

hemp hearts, for topping

VEGAN GREEN GODDESS DRESSING: (Ok. Or whatever dressing you want). 

1 small clove garlic, grated

1/2 cup white kidney (cannellini) beans, cooked or canned. 

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 cup parsley

3 tbsps chives, chopped

2 tbsps tarragon

2 tbsps lemon juice

salt, pink or sea

pepper, freshly ground

water, to thin, as needed


1 small onion, red; thinly sliced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, raw

2 tsp maple syrup

2 tsp salt, pink or sea (Ok or just salt)



Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the butternut squash in coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 – 30 minutes or until squash is cooked through and turning golden.

Add the kale to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Massage gently, until kale is wilted. The kale, that is. 

Assemble the bowls by dividing the lentils, millet, and some squash into two bowls. Add a generous handful of kale and a big scoop of squash. (You will have leftovers of both you can use throughout the week.) Top with avocado, radish, pickled onion, sliced almonds, pepitas, and hemp hearts. Serve with lots of green goddess dressing.


Combine all ingredients together in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add water to thin to your desired consistency, one tablespoon at a time. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.


Add onions into a medium jar along with the rest of the ingredients. Pour one cup of very hot water over onions and stir well. Let cool to room temperature for about an hour before using. Store in the fridge for a few weeks. (Even better if made a day or two ahead!)”

It is truly a pity that we don’t make better use of pulses.  “Pulses are also known as lentils, dry peas, beans and chickpeas. Canada is the world's largest supplier of pulses, with Canadian pulses being exported to 130 countries around the world.”

Silly really to export a most excellent, low-cost food source to the world, while importing extravagant products simply because we don’t know that can actually be cool to be, not poor, of course, but at least not hysterical. It might even be time to dust off that old harmonica.