A lentil is an edible pulse (legume) that grows on a bushy plant of the same name. There are a number of varieties of lentils and these come in different colors such as yellow, red, orange, brown and black. Lentils have been eaten for thousands of years and it is believed that they were domesticated at least 9,000 years ago. Lentils remain an important food source in many parts of the world due to the high level of protein and important vitamins and minerals that they contain. Let’s find out where lentils come from.
How do lentils grow?
We already know that lentils grow on a plant. The lentil plant is a small bush and only reaches 40 cm (16 in) tall on average. The edible lentils are actually the seeds of the plant and these grow in pods that usually contain 2 seeds each.
Where did lentils originate from?
Archaeological evidence has shown that lentils originated in the Middle East where the plant was also first cultivated. Lentils were one of the first crops domesticated in this region and this is thought to have occurred sometime between 13,000 – 9,000 years ago.
Where are lentils grown today?
From the Middle East the lentil spread around the world and today they are grown on every continent on Earth, with the exception of Antarctica. The largest producer of lentils is Canada at 1.5 million tonnes, followed by India with almost 1 million tonnes. Other large producers of this crop include Turkey, the United States, Australia, Ethiopia and China.
Did you know?
Lentils are a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), B9 (folate), iron, phosphorus and zinc.
In 2006 lentils were listed as one of the five healthiest foods by Health magazine!