2016: International Year of Pulses

Scarlet runner bean

Otto Wilhelm Thomé: Prof. Dr. Thomé's Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz in Wort und Bild, 1886.
Caption, Taf. 454 (Bd. 3)

ETH Library provides specialist information on pulses. To mark the International Year of Pulses 2016, the following gives an overview of important works and holdings.

Otto Wilhelm Thomé: Prof. Dr. Thomé's Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz in Wort und Bild. Gera-Untermhaus: Verlag von Fr. Eugen Köhler, [1886]

Pietro Andrea Mattioli, Joachim Camerarius: Kreuterbuch desz hochgelehrten unnd weitberühmten Herrn D. Petri Andreae Matthioli. Gedruckt zu Franckfort am Mayn: [Feyrabendt], 1590

Basilius Besler: Hortus Eystettensis (…). [Nürnberg]: [s.n.], 1713

Pulses in archival holdings

The sporadic archival holdings on the topic of pulses reflect interesting shifts in ETH Zurich's focuses in the field of agricultural, food and plant science.

Until well into the post-war decades, pulses were primarily studied in connection with local agriculture and production optimisation. In the 1950s and 1960s, for instance, pulses were a permanent feature in the nursery of the Oberhof-Rossberg experimental farm, which was run by the Institute for Crop Science and Agricultural Engineering (see Arbeitsprogramm für die Versuche auf dem Oberhof-Rossberg 1953 (external link) ("Work Programme for Experiments at Oberhof-Rossberg 1953")). With the arrival of Markus Rudolf Bachmann, who was a professor of dairy farming and agricultural problems of developmental cooperation at ETH Zurich from 1970 to 1990, pulses then began to be studied in the context of development aid. For instance, they are used as an example in Bachmann's manuscript Lebensmitteltechnologie in Entwicklungsländern: Vor- und Nachernteverluste bei Grundnahrungsmitteln ("Food Technology in Developing Countries: Pre- and Post-Harvest Losses in Staple Foods"; ETH Library, University Archives, Hs 1408:7/1, see Findbuch Bestand M. R. Bachmann (external link)). The Swiss Centre for International Agriculture (ZIL), which was founded in 1993, also promotes several research projects on pulses in developing and emerging countries. 

However, pulses have not just been the object of multifaceted research. Researchers also regard them very highly as protein-rich foods. This is evident in a letter from the canning factory Conservenfabrik Lenzburg (formerly Henkell & Roth) to meteorologist Alfred de Quervain dated 9 February 1912, for example. De Quervain had ordered string beans as part of the provisions for his expedition across the central Greenlandic ice sheet. As they were out of stock, the cannery offered him Hero peas as a substitute, which were "unquestionably the finest peas around".   

Letter caption

ETH Library, ETH Zurich University Archives, Letter by the Conservenfabrik Lenzburg to Alfred de Quervain, 9 December 1912