Whether you enjoy a plant-based lifestyle or are simply a fan of the endlessly versatile legume (or the aquafaba that comes in its cans), chickpeas are something of a dietary staple. Which is why the news that a global chickpea shortage may be upon us comes as something of a blow to our menu rotation—and, of course, our tastebuds.
The historical little bean—chickpeas have likely been cultivated and enjoyed in the Middle East since the ninth millennium BC—could decrease by as much as 20% this year as a result of unfavorable (read: extreme) weather around the world, supply chain issues, and effects of the Russia-Ukraine War.
How Did This Chickpea Shortage Happen?
First, the weather. In the United States, drought discouraged farmers from seeding the legume—resulting in 5% fewer acres, a number already down from a previous drought year—while in Australia, the disinclination was due to flooded fields. Meanwhile, the starts and stops in the supply chain and the container crisis have combined to ramp up shipping costs.
As for the war, according to Navneet Chhabra, director of Global Garbanzo (one of the largest exporters of chickpeas in the world), Russia accounts for 25% of the chickpea trade. Because of sanctions, Russia’s exports have been reduced to 5,000 tons per month—well below its previous 20,000. In Ukraine, the realities of war have prevents farmers from planting this year, which will lead to a plummeting in chickpea exports in Europe and a general shake-up of the market.
How to Prep for the Chickpea Shortage
Curbing our dietary addiction to chickpeas will be tough, but it’s certainly not impossible. Here are three ways to prepare for the chickpea shortage.
1. Discover Alternatives
From black bean hummus to sweet potato falafel, this is your chance to get creative in the kitchen! Chickpeas are a legume, meaning that for most recipes, another of your preferred beans could suffice. Test-drive different flavor profiles, cooking methods, and pairings—you may discover a new go-to snack.
2. Freeze Your Aquafaba
The uses of aquafaba are many—the liquid is essentially a vegan egg replacement—so save it while you can! Rather than using it immediately, freeze your chickpea water in ice cube trays so you can cook with it at a later date.
3. Enjoy Chickpeas While You Can!
This is your invitation to step into the present moment. Savor those falafels! Polish off the hummus! Shifts in crops and accessibility are likely a part of our environmental future, so enjoy your favorites while they still exist in abundance.
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