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On any given day, nearly 14% of the U.S. population eats beans, according to government statistics. Many West Virginians, particularly those from the southern coalfields, are probably already starting to chuckle at the percentage. Multiple that maybe by seven (98%) if counting supper plates in the mountain state and while you’re at it, change that “given day” to every day.
To say that “brown beans”–the typical reference for pinto beans, actually–are a staple is understating it. The prevalence on plates in the mountains even defies comparison or relevance to other regional foods. To wit, folks in Philadelphia aren’t eating cheese steak sandwiches, nor are Buffalo natives gnawing on hot wings daily. Maybe (but I doubt it) South Carolinians are eating grits as often as we eat beans but I’ll put our consumption in pounds (tonnage ?) in beans against theirs in grits any day of the week.
So how did something not grown to any significant extent in West Virginia evolve into “our food?” Like many things for mountaineers, we got them from the Indians but not the ones that readil…
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