Let's be real.
Food media recently went into a generationally biased frenzy. The culprit? Starkist, who blamed their 42 percent sales drop on millennials not owning can openers. We kill everything, so I guess it makes to blame us instead of, say, more seafood options in grocery stores or shifts in dietary trends. (For the record, we are fully aware that canned tuna is versatile and cheap.)
But I’m not here to talk about tuna. I’m here to talk about the great staple in most every millennial’s diet: canned beans.
Protein is one of the most precious nutrients we can put in our bodies. However, animal protein isn’t always our best option. Compared to legumes, it’s pricey, and for all we know it could be carrying some horrible virus. Fresh meat doesn’t last as long as what you’ll find in a can, and despite how good it tastes it’s not always all that good for you. The meat industry has a hefty carbon footprint, and eating too much red and processed meat increases your risk of heart disease and colon and breast cancer, just to name a few. Canned beans, on the other hand, don’t carry those burdens.
Canned beans are packed with protein and fiber (another most precious nutrient!) and simple to cook. You just heat them up! Even if you don’t necessarily need them, it’s never a bad idea to pick up a can of beans; in case of an emergency or bare pantry, those beans will have your back. They’re the fledgling cook’s non-scary, vehicle into the world of meal prep. And what’s the easiest, non-pasta meal you can cook on the stovetop? Beans and rice.
WATCH: Supermarket Smarts: Canned Beans
The catalog of legumes feels endless: black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, red beans (both dark and light), Bush’s baked beans, refried beans, lima beans, white beans, beans specifically seasoned for chili, field peas, black-eyed peas, green beans, beans mixed with other catalysts for substantial meals, specifically any variety of tomato. And outside of beans lies the vast canned empire: Cans of soup and broth and chili and non-legume vegetables (Artichoke hearts! Beets! Corn! You name it!), important mixers like canned coconut milk, maybe even some canned fruit for a casserole. And yes, canned tuna too. Those cans are not just for aesthetics—they’re here to sustain us through times both good and bad, up until the distant day when they finally expire. And don't forget that we're the aquafaba generation.
So how can we not own can openers? You know, the analog, non-electric, way less terrifying can opener? It’s likely one of the first pieces of kitchenware we bought. I recently broke my can opener, and even though I’m a lazy millennial, I went out and bought a new one, because a contemporary kitchen just isn’t complete without a device to open one’s cans. And yes, cans with ring pulls exist, but a canned good is a lot like a bottle of cheap wine: You can’t expect every item to include an easy opening—it’s best to be prepared.