Ark of Taste
O'odham Pink Bean
The O'odham Pink Bean is a bush bean native to the desert borderlands of Sonora and Arizona. This bean has been an important resource for the O'odham people since the early eighteenth century. Reports from the early 1900s indicate that, as a staple crop of the Tohono O'odham, nearly two million pounds were produced annually. Unfortunately, this highly cherished crop?that was once widely cultivated across the southwest?has few remaining producers.
The bean is a medium-sized, uniformly colored, pink bean that is moderately drought resistant and heat tolerant. When the late summer rains come across the Southern Arizona desert, this tasty, creamy-textured bean ripens and is ready for harvest. A traditional harvest includes uprooting the entire plant, leaving it out to dry and then threshing the plant with sticks to remove the pods before they are winnowed in the wind. Once harvested, the protein-rich beans are boiled or baked with meat or other animal fats.