Beyond The Princess & The Pea —

The True Skinny about Garden Peas

by SeedGal, — all rights reserved. January 1, 2018
SeedGal’s Garden Journal History on Bush Peas and Snap Peas

Pea Prelude

Even if peas weren’t spectacularly healthy, peas would naturally appear as a common side dish for dinner in America. You can easily grow and enjoy your own garden harvest of tender light crunchy snap peas and bush peas. Sweet tasting rewards in every stage of the pod formation. Gardeners typically dig up plants after harvest and replant peas in the same season. Gardeners who keep the plant through expiration see the bush and vine delicately transition to pale yellow; now it’s time to save dried peas for use in soups or replanting for the next harvest.

Busting Fake Stories About Peas

Untruth and ignorance appear on various websites on the subject of peas; let’s review the falsehoods
1) Peas ‘cause infertility’ and are ‘like oral contraceptives’ — FALSE.
 No, there isn’t any proof to substantiate this¹ in fact claiming peas as an aphrodisiac is more plausible. Let’s take a look at estrogen approximations in the following examples: 
One birth control pill is approximately 35,000 nanograms daily of synthesized estrogen.

Almost all edible plants and common foods contain common hormones² like natural forms of estrogen:

2) Lectin in peas is bad for you. — FALSE. 
 Lectins are beneficial to humans. Scientists believe that Lectin is a type of (carbohydrate, sugar binding) protein⁴ naturally found in many vegetables and easily diminishes by cooking. Lectin is so fragile in common foods⁵ that traces amounts break down quickly when introduced to heat.

3) Peas weren’t eaten by humans until recently. — FALSE.
 Neolithic humans consumed peas and other legumes, with indications of food storage.⁶

Mendel — Peas and genetic concepts

Peas in Early Civilization

Archaeologists discovered peas were a food source very early in human existence one discovery included gardening of peas in Switzerland since about 8000 BC. By at least 4000 BC, early civilization in Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, the Balkans, and all of Europe used peas as a food source. Hot pea porridge during the winter was common in medieval Europe, an easy to grow and delicious staple for everyone. In dried form, peas were safe to store for cooking and consuming during winter months. Eventually, peas enjoyed high status with royalty (Georgian period). A hot topic for young princes and princesses, eating peas for dessert or just before going to bed seemed like a craze among the youth of royalty. Perhaps aristocrats shared flatulence among the affluence? Basically, peas became a standard fair, common to peasants at first and later adopted widely.

Fast forwarding in time to the United States, peas where a standard for gardens and small crop growers. Big money interests in food storage and distribution changed the way crops were grown. The craft and soon technology behind canning vegetables lead the market demand in growing certain crops like peas.

Canned Peas

During gold rush days, faster transportation of food (and the storage of it) needed to keep pace with populations of boomtowns. In California, many canners profited from serving gold rush communities; some of the larger canners merged⁷ under the brand name Del Monte. Both Del Monte and Pennsylvania’s Heinz Company solicited farmers to grow more peas for example among a limited vegetable selection for the purpose of canning. Soon farmers with large acreage became dedicated to ‘canning crops’ supporting market demand. Idaho, Washington, and Oregon crop farmers entered into agreements with commercial canning companies at this time.

Frozen Peas & The Ghost In The Machine

The American Clarence Birdseye is typically accredited for the invention of quick freezing food methods and had over 100 patents. Clarence Birdseye moved to Massachusetts in 1925 and he sought investors to support his inventive activity.

Clarence Bird Eye was a great inventor; however, contrary to many authors the business engine and true visionary for modern refrigerators including freezers for general consumers belongs to Marjorie Merriweather Post.
She funded Clarence Birdseye to keep inventing, and she significantly financed the marketing of the flash-freeze technology. Marjorie Post grew up learning about America’s food distribution from her father’s successful Postum Cereal Company; she became one of America’s wealthiest and most influential people in America. How it happened is she met with Clarence Birdseye on the subject of frozen foods and his inventions. Soon after, Marjorie Post acquired most of Clarence’s patents for flash-freeze technologies in 1929. It was Marjorie Post who directed marketing funds on the creation of cold food storage appliances suitable for mass production. Promoting safe storage of fresh frozen foods for Americans and eventually the world, Marjorie Post made it her mission. The dream for the common American household to have the technology of storing fresh foods safely and conveniently was futuristic.

Marjorie Merriweather Post

Using her newly purchased patents, she concentrated on developing business partners supporting the manufacturing process for mass production of home freezer appliances. Consumers liked the idea of a fancy new freezer as advertised in the newspapers, but the cost of purchasing a freezer instead of using a simple icebox was difficult to rationalize; most Americans just couldn’t afford it. Ice delivery service was still common in most cities; people bought ice blocks for their icebox or used cold cellar storage for fresh food.
By the 1940’s basically everyone could afford modern refrigeration. Finally, with years of refining the process, factory production of refrigerators with a frozen food compartment became a top selling appliance and common in most households. Peas (just like canning crops) became a choice vegetable to introduce as a frozen vegetable in the beginning of this new shift of American agriculture responding to business demand. In the USA, as of the year 2017 Montana and North Dakota are the top producing states for peas. The UK is the largest producer of fresh peas in Europe, growing roughly 86,500 acres annually.

Check out the Farmer’s Almanac —

Growing Garden Peas

Bush peas are easy to grow from a packet of seeds. Try to sow exactly at the depth described on the package; when you water be careful not to jet stream with the nozzle and displace your seeds. Using a watering can is the best way to start sprouting peas in a container; never let your sprouts dry out. Near maturity peas needs less water. The ‘Little Marvel Bush’ variety is a prolific, sturdy rounded upright plant. 
A pretty plant (almost weed resistant around it) forms pods soon after flowering. These are really sweet tasting and hard to harvest without snacking; no pests seem interested; pollinators will love the pea blooms. 
Snap peas have an edible pod by design but bush pea pods are also delicious and sweet if picked early. Experiment with both in your garden and see what you like best.

Peas are a cool season crop with multiple ways to harvest -
Bush Peas: Harvest and use the entire young small pods in place of snap peas. Or harvest when the pods are bright green and visibly have 6 to 8 peas inside pods, enjoy these as petit pois. Let the plant mature further, you’ll see the bulging row of peas inside each pod case. Mature green pods easily pop open and the perfect peas fresh from your garden, ready for use in your next dish or canning endeavor to enjoy later. 
Sugar Snap Peas: Sow snap peas during consistently sunny days (50–70 degrees) once they flower, begin to watch for pods and harvest on time. — bush peas sprout typically in 1-2 weeks

Pea Power

Peas and Nutrition: 1 cup of cooked green peas has over 8 grams of protein, high in fiber, calcium, zinc, folate, vitamin C, E, K, B & A. Review the full nutrients listed from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database⁸. Peas are an anti-oxidant and may have additional benefits like lowering blood pressure, balance cholesterol levels and digestive function.

Grow your own delicious fresh peas

Traditional Irish Cottage Pie Recipe with Peas
A fabulous recipe from the past try this Irish Cottage Pie recipe. Vegetarians can use beef substitutes for this recipe (keep the meat substitution on the dry side; you want the texture to have enough ability to absorb the juices of everything else). Also substitute fresh bush peas if possible, instead of frozen in this recipe PBS Parents Kitchen Explorers Cottage Pie
A Season for Everything

Of course fresh food is always better! Protein powders are processed, the peas goes through a dehydration process to extract the protein. Many new protein powders are pea-based and have gained in popularity. For busy lifestyles, the modern convenience of protein powder offers a wonderful boost to health and saves time.

The Great Pea Shake Up

Nutritional pea powder gained momentum with market demand, proven benefits, plus a solid athletic community following. Below are links to consumer reviews and complete lists without flipping through pages or annoying pop-up ads:
26 Vegan Protein Powders — PETA

10 Best Tasting Protein Powders — Bodybuilder

Of course it’s always best fresh but when peas can no longer grow in your garden, try adding small amounts of unflavored pea power to creating sauces or simply add a few spoonfuls to your baking creations. Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein is affordable for baking breads, cookies, and preparing vegan sauces.

The bottom line is peas are a wonderful food source enjoyed by most cultures, a healthy choice for every day meals and easy to grow fresh.


Worried About Hormones? University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Bruce Treffer, UNL Extension 2013
Can Peas Really Cause Infertility? 
Dr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc 2014
Hormones In Beef Myth vs. Fact 2015
 Know Your Lectins (MayoClinic) 2016 
Lectin-free diet: Is it good or bad? 2017

Princesses, Pottage, Posterity, and Peas
Rebecca Rupp, Ph.D 2014

Agriculture, Food, and the Environment

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History 2016

8. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
 9.Easy Pea Sey’ How To Plant Peas

Additional references:

Hillwood Museum
 Colonial Williamsburg, That the Future May Learn From The Past