East Coast USA Bulk Food Sources Part 2: Dry Beans
East Coast Dry Bean Sources—As in edible dry beans for humans…not animal feed.
This is part two of three. Part one covers wheat berries and flour. Part three still to come will over USA organic rice sources.
When I started this search I didn’t even understand why the word “elevator” kept popping up in my grain and bean searches. As far as this city native knew, elevators were for tall buildings…apparently it’s also the name for the structure that houses dry food…shows how little I know about where my food is coming from. That’s part of the reason why I did this search, I wanted to be more aware of where my food was coming from, how far it traveled to get to my grocery store shelf. The other side of that was wanting to buy more staple ingredients in bulk…avoid excess packaging materials and keep myself out of the mad-dash to clear the grocery store shelves before a snow storm. A few months ago I shared my findings of East Coast Grain Sources. Now here’s a source list for edible dry beans. My focus was to find sources closest to my east coast state of Maryland. While I was really surprised by the number I found, you’ll see that to encompass more types of beans I also went all the way to the west coast. However, these are all USA sources. If I’ve missed any, add them to the comments below or send me a message!
Why Dry Beans?
It’s not like the canned beans are expensive right? You’re right, but what they lack in price they make up for in sodium (and what to do with that can?). Dry beans ARE still cheaper than canned beans too, about 1/4 the cost.
Bare with me here for a minute:
1 can of store brand beans on sale= $1
1 pound of store brand dry beans on sale= $1
Once you drain the liquid a can is about 1cup to 1.5 cups of precooked beans
1 pound of dry beans measure two cups when dry BUT measures about at least FOUR cups when cooked.
TaDa! So for $1.00 I can either have 1-1.5 cups of beans or I can have 4 cups of beans. Buying dry beans offers rougly 3-4X as many for the same price. Minus the sodium, and minus 3-4 cans.
Don’t they take forever to cook?
Yes they do, and here’s the secret to cooking them right…let them take “forever”. Try to skip a step or raise the heat to speed up the cooking time you’ll get gritty under-cooked splitting beans. So step one: soak them in the fridge overnight (meal planning is an excellent way to save on that grocery bill anyway) OR boil for two minutes and then let them soak in the hot water for an hour. NEXT (because you’re only half way there) I drain/rinse, put in a pot, and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring water and beans to a boil and then keep the heat on LOW. I simmer with the lid half off. Stirring occasionally is a must! Start tasting at one hour onward and you should have cooked beans by 2 1/2 hours at most. This cooking time will vary depending on bean type, and probably even sources. Save yourself some patience agony by making big batches at a time and freezing what you don’t need in reusable mason jars (I fill with beans and then top with the liquid from boiling leaving about 2 inches of space…be sure to use wide-mouth jars so they don’t crack). Now next recipe you have “canned” beans (move to fridge the night before, or the counter the morning of, to thaw).
Who eats enough beans to buy in bulk?
As of 2012 we don’t eat much meat anymore. Why? Health and environmental reasons. If you’re a visual learner then check out these documentaries I recommend, and if you’re a reader than pick up a copy of The China Study by T. Colin and Thomas Campbell. Oh and before you even say it, YES beans DO have PROTEIN, some even higher amounts than meat, but YES you DO also have to eat the rest of your food that day (veggies, maybe some grain, etc) to get the complete set of essential proteins your body needs. Your body is pretty smart like that. So what do you eat? Glad you asked. Here’s a growing list of our favorite vegan and vegetarian dinner meals from various awesome food blogs. In some of those recipes you’ll find beans. I find dry beans very easy to store. Keep them dry and cool and they’ll keep just about indefinitely. My 25-50lb bags that I buy will last for years. One less item to repeatedly ship and repeatedly pick up at the grocery store in small amounts.
What about shipping costs?
I’ve gotten more than one email reply from companies warning me that the shipping cost will probably rival the cost of the product. They are absolutely right, but here’s the funny thing, even with the shipping costs incorporated the price is still the same or lower than the grocery store. I also have the comfort of knowing WHERE the beans are grown (not just distributed from) and I saw an improvement in bean quality (few-none cracked or moldy). I also feel better about the reduced packaging, as one 50lb bag can be reused as a trash bags, as opposed to 50 small 1lb bags just being thrown out.
East Coast Dry [Edible] Bean Sources
Located in Caledonia, New York they sell black, light red kidney, and cranberry beans in bulk (all grown in New York). I got the impression that most of their orders are large commercial and local but I reached out to the manager via email and he worked with me to order 50lb bags to my residence. I mailed them a check (they don’t take credit cards) for the total cost including shipping and once the check went through my order was promptly on it’s way. I ordered 50lbs of each from them and was completely satisfied with the purchase from start to finish (to cooking!). You have to give the beans a good washing (as you should any you buy) as they have the dust of the field on them, but the quality was noticeably better than what I had been buying from my local major grocery store. Prior to reaching out to them I had never even heard of Cranberry beans but now I am a fan. They can be substituted for both white and pinto beans. I even successfully used them to make refried beans.
Quick Price Glance: 50# bag is about $0.60/lb
Shipping: $75 for 150# (that’s three 50# bags)
Final price per # with shipping= $1.10
A small company located in Colorado selling light red kidney and pinto beans grown in Western Nebraska and Northern Colorado. They have excellent customer service so don’t hesitate to email them (I believe parts of their website is under construction). When talking with them they shared that they recently began selling to the public after repeated requests from the locals knocking on their factory door. When I spoke with them in January of 2016, they assured me that all the currently selling beans were from their most recent 2015 crop. I look forward to ordering from them in the future.
Quick Price Glance: 50# bag ranges from $0.44-$0.52/lb based on type.
Shipping: 50# bag is about $38.80
Final price per # with shipping = As low as $1.22
You may have seen this company in the health aisle of your grocery store. An all organic ( and therefore non-gmo!) company located in Michigan that sources beans from the midwestern states. You can buy organic Aduki, black soybeans, black turtle, dark red kidney, green lentils, green split peas, navy, pinto, small red beans in 25# bags on their website. I gained a lot of respect for this company after hearing the company president share his story about his determination and dedication to package his products in BPA-Free cans after studies revealed toxicity concerns. You can read the story on their website HERE but basically he dropped 3 can suppliers that refused to share information on their can’s lining and and joined forces with Ball Canning company to provide BPA-free cans to their customers. Despite the higher cost Eden Foods said “Eden Foods knew that this was not a numbers issue, but a moral and ethical one. After all, they were feeding this food to their children.”
Quick Price Glance: Beans: 25# bag = $1.40-3.80/lb depending on bean type and occasional sales
Shipping: $9 flat rate when you spend $65.
Final price per # with shipping: Varies due to how much you spend.
This Vermont based company sources most of its beans from North East states of Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York. Occasionally orders may also come from Michigan. Order online or locally they sell Black Turtle, Jacob’s Cattle, Marafax, Red Merlot, Solider, and Yellow Eye beans. I really like how when you select a bean description (like this one of Black Turtle beans) they list all the possible farms the beans were grown and when you receive your beans their package will be more specific. I did not inquire if they would sell larger amounts, but their website states they sell in just 1 pound bags.
Quick Price Glance: Beans: ranges from $2.75-$4.00 per pound.
Shipping: $12.00 (looks to be a flat rate)
Final price per # with shipping: Varies greatly depending on bean type and amount ordered to keep shipping lower overall.
A farm in Massachusetts that’s been growing heirloom and specialty beans for the past 25 years. They have 20 different types! Ready? Here they are: Bert Goodwin, Black Coco, Black Turtle, Boston Roman, Bumblebee, Calypso, Cannellini, Flageotet, Italian Cranberry, Jacob’s Cattle, Light Red Kidney, Marfax, Money, Otebo, Peregion, Scarlet Beauty, Soldier, Sulphur, Vermont Cranberry, Yellow Eve.
Quick Price Glance: Unfortunately they don’t list prices on their website, but more information and purchasing can be done by contacting them via email or phone.
A small family farm in Freedom, Maine that’s been growing New England heirlooms for forty years. On their website they welcome anyone to stop by 365 days year and check it out/lend a hand. I positively love how they provide personal descriptions of each of their beans, like why they grow it, the history, cooking recommendations, etc. They grow Yellow Eye, Jacob’s Cattle, Solider, Marafax, King of the Early, and Vermont Cranberry beans.
Quick Price Glance: Beans range from $3.50/lb (if ordering 20#) to $6.00/lb (if ordering 2#). The type of bean doesn’t change the price. Can pay online or mail.
Shipping: It appears that shipping is included in those prices.
Final price per # with shipping: Between $3.50-$6.00/lb depending on amount ordered.
Located in Western Maine this 2300 acre farm grows several crops including these New England heirloom beans: Jacob’s Cattle, Soldier, Red Kidney, and Yellow Eye. You can conveniently buy them in 2# or 50# bags directly from their website. You can also find a recipe for Maine Baked Beans on their website…yum!
Quick Price Glance: A 2# bag will cost you $3.25/lb and a 50# bag breaks down to $1.70/lb. Not including shipping costs.
Shipping: Approximately an addition $30 to a 50# bag
Final Price per # with shipping: Approx $2.30/lb when buying a 50# bag.
200 acre organic farm in Michigan. They sell a variety of crops including grains, and their website clearly labels which are Michigan grown. For bean they grow and sell Adzuki, Black Turtle, Kidney, Navy, Pinto, and Soybeans. They can be bought in 5# or 25# bags with the exception of soybeans that you can also get as 50#. There’s no purchase page, so you’ll have to contact them through their website about ordering.
Quick Price Glance: Prices vary with bean type, but 25# costs roughly $1.36-$2.04/lb not including shipping.
Shipping: Contact company for purchase and shipping information.
Final price per # with shipping: Contact seller.
A 5 generation family farm in Washington state. They are on the opposite end from the east coast, but worth mentioning. They are the only bean company I found that offers Garbanzo beans, Lentils, and Split Green Peas, (all certified non-GMO too!). They also have a right idea with their “Trace Your Food” page on their site. There you can enter the Lot Number on any product from them and you’ll learn exactly what field those beans came from. I wish more large companies would adopt this idea! Even if you’re not ready to buy from them yet, you can catch some great bean recipes by subscribing to their mailing list (homemade hummus anyone?!). Easily purchased on their website, they offer several buying options; trial packs, gift packs, bundles, subscriber discounts, hummus kits, or individual beans ranging from 3#-100# (in 25# increments).
Quick Price Glance: With so many ways to buy, you’re best bet is to check out their online shop. When buying a single bean type however, 3# will be about $4.30/lb and 50# about $1.74/lb INCLUDING shipping.
Shipping: Included in the above prices, regardless of pounds ordered.
Final price per # with shipping: Between $1.74-$4.30/lb depending on amount ordered.
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.