Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Each variety of dried beans has its own set of merits -- that may be its adaptability in cultivation or evolution for the place it's grown, its culinary qualities and how it tastes, its nutritional profile, or other things.
What draws me in are the beauty of the beans and their poetical names.
I'm surprised how many dappled and broken-color beans are named for animals. Jacob's Trout, and its sister bean, Jacob's Cattle. Orca, named for its black-and-white marking that resembles a killer whale. An Appaloosa bean and a Dapple Gray bean will join the store after this year's harvest, I hope.
Many beans have names that suggest where they're grown or where they originated. Anasazi beans, now a trademarked name which comes from a Navaho word meaning "the old ones," are said to have been found in an abandoned cave dwelling. Colorado River beans, with their beautiful maroon and dark brown speckles on a tan background, suggest the deep colors of the Colorado River after a rainstorm. These beautiful heirloom beans have a creamy texture and rich nutty flavor that makes a spectacular soup.
Every bean provides superior nutrition and good eating. Left to my own devices, however, I'll pick a beautiful bean every time.